How To Improve Your Support Play! image
Posted on March 15th 2019 by Richard Hicks

How To Improve Your Support Play!

In a recent Coaches Education Meeting a really interesting discussion point was raised, the advent of Professional Clubs creating the role of a support coach. This role is primarily responsible for the coaching of players off the ball.

When looking at support, it’s clear that passing is a key measure of how we work off the ball. The ball carrier has to find support, other players around the ball carrier provide options for them.

The changes in the game has shown the increased importance of this simple aspect of the game: Run - Pass

Average number of passes per game in World Cups:

  1. In 1995 - 201 passes on average per game with the ball in play for 35%of the time
  2. In 2015 - 282 passes on average per game with the ball in play for 47% of the time or 37 mins

Therefore support play must be playing a large role in the modern game, especially at International level but how much are you focussing on it?

Here’s what a support coach could be looking to develop:

  • Support Shapes
  • Running Ability of Players
  • Catch & Pass Skills
  • Passing Skills
  • Off-load Skills
  • Tactical Understanding & Context

What we don’t do is develop our ball presentation, rucking or mauling skills – we are primarily looking at how our players work without the ball. Whether you are the only coach, head coach or assistant coach why not start incorporating some of the following exercises into your sessions:

Video: Support Lines - Trail Running

In this practice we look at the way we can develop players to support and communicate their position in support of the ball carrier.

Video: Passing and Support Lines

Pass and follow are key here in this practice session.

Video: Continuity - Keeping The Ball Alive

Howard Graham discusses the way we achieve continuity – without creating rucks or contact.

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