RL Key Skills
This section provides details of the key skills required to be a top rugby league footballer. The Wildcats Squad work on these key skills day in and day out to improve and become better players, by studying the skills and practising hard, you could become a better player as well.
KEY SKILLS 1: TACKLING
This is one of the most important fundamentals of the game. Before a player can become a good footballer he must be a good tackler. The main problem to overcome is the fear of being hurt. But if you follow these instructions you cannot possibly hurt yourself.
Tackling may be divided into three types: Side tackles, straight on tackles, Diving tackles
It is advisable to try and position the ball-carrier on the side (left or right side), lining him up and keeping your eyes fixed on the area between his hips and legs. When you are two or three yards away form you opponent, either accelerate or ease pace. Watch his feet.
When he lifts the leg nearest to you that is the time to drive home your tackle, placing your head behind his rump, arms grasped around the legs tightly. By doing this, no real energy is required because you have positioned your opponent off balance, and you have also protected yourself for the fall by using him as a cushion when hitting the ground. Always hold your arms around his legs tightly. If you don’t you may receive a kick from his legs as he sprawls on the ground.
IMPORTANT THINGS NOT TO DO
Don’t place your head in front of the ball-carrier you are tackling because when you come in contact with the ground you will be underneath and more likely to be injured. Don’t drive home the tackle if the feet are in the opposite position to that stated above because your opponent has distributed all his weight to that side with the purpose of using his hip to bump you away. For this reason, it is most important to watch his feet when making contact for the tackle.
Straight on Tackles
These are generally very rare; the most common place to strike them would be around the ruck’s. The best method possible is to move quickly to the ball-carrier, thus not giving him any chance of gaining momentum. This is where the element of surprise comes in. Bending low in a crouching position and watching his legs, move your head to the side opposite the knee that is being lifted, drive hard with the should blocking the knee coming up. Fix your arms around his legs tightly and follow through.
These are generally executed in desperation. You must hit the ball-carrier from behind from the hips down, placing the head to one side so as to protect yourself from the feet of the opponent. The arms should be placed around the legs tightly.
KEY SKILLS 2: CATCHING
In most sporting games there are certain basic requisites all players must conform to. Rugby League has requisites which we shall call fundamentals. We will go through each fundamental and show how each is played and how you can increase your skill. A most important feature of Rugby League is for you to be able to catch the ball – this phase of playing the game is too often overlooked by players. It is simple enough to learn the correct way of taking the ball and you must remember that on the field you may be called upon to catch a kick at any time.
Should you fail the result is often worse than if a pass has been dropped, because the opposition is following the ball through in the hope that you will drop or fumble it.
The following are the main points to be remembered when gathering a kick: Watch the ball – from the time it leaves the kicker’s foot, travelling through the air to your arms. Put your hands through the air as if searching for the ball. As the ball comes to you, bring your elbows together almost in front of your body. Cup your arms so that the ball will fall into them and can be pulled into your body. Hug the ball to the body with the forearms and hands. Your body should “give”, or move downward, so that it will not be rigid and bounce the ball out of your grasp. The chest should be drawn in and the shoulders rounded. This keeps the chest out of the way and also prevents the ball from bouncing off it. The ball is taken more on the forearms and drawn in on the chest
How to practise your catching
Good practise for youngsters is to have someone throw you a ball high in the air. Later on practise catching under pressure – have one player throw you the ball with the rest of the team charging down. After you have learnt how to catch the ball, it is an idea to turn your hip (left of right) to make it harder for would-be tacklers to tackle you.
KEY SKILLS 3: PASSING AND HANDLING
The object of Rugby League, apart from the fun in playing it, is to cross the opponent’s line and score more points than the other team. The most effective way of crossing the try line is to pass the ball from player to player, at all times taking the play forward.
For handling, a cradle is made with the hand, having your fingers widely spread under the ball and your thumbs on the upper portion of it; in this way you can achieve ball control. Don’t hold the ball too firmly; your arms should be relaxed with the elbows slightly bend and to your side. You should be able to pass to left or right. Your eyes should be directed to the player you are passing the ball to. As you pass your arms across your body and the ball is about to leave your hands, give your wrist a slight flick. The motion is complete with the arms following through and extending in the direction of the pass.
A pass to the left is directed as the right leg comes forward, a pass to the right as the left leg comes forward.
When you pass, pass so that the ball reaches the receiver as he runs into it – don’t allow a pass to go too low, too high, over his head, or in a difficult position as he could drop it, knock-on or lose possession. The only way to become good at handling and passing is practise, practise, practise.
When to Pass
The object is to pass to a player in a scoring position – of course usually this cannot be done. There can be no hard and fast rule as to when to pass the ball, but here are some examples: Often as soon as you receive and take one step, a well directed pass can give your team an advantage After drawing the man, so that he is virtually out of play. Sometimes all an opponent has to do is look at you and he is drawn to you.
You don’t have to run right up to a player to draw him. If you do this, often you are allowing the other side to move up onto your team, preventing a scoring movement. A pass to a player in a better position, either inside or outside, can allow your team to make more ground than you yourself would.
You may find that by “cutting-out” one or even two of your team-mates with a long pass, you can quickly and effectively put your team in a favourable attacking position. This method also overcomes the defender who is right on top of your supporting team-mate.
Taking the Pass
To take a pass expertly you must concentrate on the job you are about to do. As the ball comes along the line to you, keep your eyes on it at all times. Forget the defending player who is moving in to perhaps tackle you – this is a major reason why so many passes are dropped in school and International matches.
Prepare to receive the ball with arms and fingers extended. Use both hands when receiving a pass. It is recommended that both forwards and backs when running hold the ball in their hands, ready for quick accurate passing. The times for tucking the ball under your arm and racing for the try line are not often. The receiver should develop the ability to sense a gap in the defence even when looking at the ball being passed to you. Be prepared at all times for those unexpected passes – being alert often leads to tries being scored. Don’t overrun the passer (running in front of him) as a forward pass means your team loses possession
KEY SKILLS 4: KICKING
Concentration is most important if you want to be an effective kicker. Your eyes must be kept on the ball right until your boot makes contact with it at the required spot. Faulty kicks are usually the result of the kicker not watching the ball and generally faulty kicks give the other team possession. When you kick, follow through with your kicking leg. This is most important and cannot be stressed strongly enough.
The arms are an important point in kicking, as they help you to keep balanced. Your head should be kept down with your eyes on the ball. Don’t worry about distance – this will come later. It is as important to be able to kick properly.
An accurate punt kicker is an asset to any side. He can gain valuable ground with line kicking an upset a team that is standing up on his team
POINTS TO WATCH
Holding the ball (for the right foot kicker). The right hand is held under the ball slightly to the right of centre. Extend the fingers of the left hand down the left side of the ball to steady it. Keep your eyes on the ball until it makes contact with your foot. Point your foot downward and in the direction you want the ball to travel. As you make contact follow through with your foot and draw your arms in to help you balance.
The “torpedo kick”
The same as above but drop the ball so contact is made to the right side of your boot and twist your foot slightly towards the left. The “torpedo kick” can give you great distance.
The Drop Kick
Principals are the same as in the punt kick. The ball should be held with the fingers spread evenly on both sides; thumbs about 1 inch from the lacing. Your arms should be extended to a comfortable position (don’t strain) from the body and for the right foot kicker the right hand controls the drop of the ball to the ground to reach it at about 45°.
POINTS TO WATCH
Don’t try to kick the ball too hard. Make sure you keep your eyes on the ball, allow the ball to fall at about 45° and drop it at arm’s length. Once again the follow-through is important, with your arms out to the side to keep your balance. The straighter you drop the ball, the higher in the air it goes.
The Place Kick
A very important kick, as often it is a place kick that can win or lose a match. For any player who has a certain amount of kicking ability the place kick should not prove too hard. Practise is the key to successful place kicking. There are several methods of place kicking – you can try them all but the suggested method has proved itself over the years as being the most effective. Make a good place for the ball (a mound of earth dug with the heel of your foot) to rest on.
Place the ball so that if kicking for goal, you line the ball up with the centre of the goal mouth, to land beyond the goal. For lining up use the top of the seam as a guide. When you know you have the ball lined up take your paces back in slow, easy relaxed steps, keeping your eyes at all times on the ball. Come in at a natural run; don’t try any fancy steps as this will tend to set you off balance. At the moment of impact the non-kicking foot should be in line with the ball. After the kick has been made the kicking leg should follow right through in the direction of the kick; once again your arms are used for balance. Of course allowance must be made for wind, and this can only come with experience and practise.
POINTS TO WATCH
Don’t run up too close to the ball, as you will be put off balance. Keep your eyes on the ball at all times. Line up the ball properly and follow through with your leg. Practise and a great deal of concentration will make you a good goal kicker.