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Rugby/Tips for an 18 year old winger

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Question
Hi Nick,

I just started playing rugby for my college team and was put in the wing position. I'm a female, 5'3 and 120 pounds. I'm strong for my size with a small frame but a good amount of muscle. I'm also really fast.

I haven't had much experience with my position, but I really want to improve a lot over the next few months so that I'm a lot faster for the spring season.

Tackling is one of my biggest problems; I'm small and have a lot of trouble wrapping my arms around their waists and then pulling them to the ground.

Another problem I'm having is being able to stay steep when my line is moving up with the ball. I tend to run past whoever has the ball, and then have to stop and move back to get behind them, causing me to (usually) miss the pass in the game).

Also- any tips on gaining speed?

Thank you!

Answer
Hi Ariana ,

I'll put a copy of an answer from a previous tackling question below. The big thing is to not over think tackling. It doesn't nee to be perfect just effective. Even if you just hold on or grab an ankle until help arrives that'll work.

It seems like you are over running your inside player the simple fix is to get used to hanging back more. It might just take practice and getting used to the style of your team mate. Always communicate as well they might create a hand sign call system with you to run certain lines: -- close in, far out, hard right or left angle, skip or switch. If you are fast, it's better to run onto the ball at speed so hang back, count or focus on breathing to calm down. Also look across the field at what the opposition are doing look for hole to run into and always expect the pass - if you don't get passed to you will make a great decoy and draw defense.

To improve speed Google plyometric training drills and look on youtube. Get with team mates as well. At the very least do 5 x 5 20 yard shuttle runs for overall time. For explosive speed and power you might consider Cross Fit type training.

Tackling:

This link to You Tube is VERY good:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQJ39bbq2uU

Here is some tackling advice:

The aim is to make a tackle to stop the play/player. Drive in hard and execute the tackle forcefully and wrap the player up well with your arms. The game of rugby moves fast enough that this will be enough to give your team the advantage. Read on for good technique but remember it DOES NOT HAVE TO LOOK PERFECT!!!! Even if you just grab the guys kersey and hold on till help arrives that will do! If you van execute the perfect text book takle then great but if it is ugly and works the result is the most important. Just do your best and commit.

Below is a past answer to a similar question. If you focus on the line of the players shorts / jersey or the string of their shorts then size will not be an issue. If a player is really big then letting them go buy and tackling from behind and sliding down the legs will bring them down. A firm grasp around the waist then drop down with all your might while squeezing their legs together.

Your head should go to the side that is "out of the way". If the player is running at you going to the left you head should go to the right side and vice versa. If the guy is running directly at you it would be best to put you head on the side the guy hold the ball but really don't over think it on that angle. The big thing is to drive your shoulder into the guys gut or lower sternum.

When tackling from the side the rule of thumb is "cheek to cheek" face to butt.

Here is a simple method for improving your tackle. When a player is moving towards you (or vice versa) do not look at their body as a whole, instead focus on the point of center between their hips. Often a coach will tell you to "eyeball" the "string of their shorts". This focus will allow your brain to only register the runner's center of gravity: the "mass" of their torso or core. No matter what a runner's arms, legs or head does the torso is usually stagnant.

Keep your feet active, stay on your toes either moving towards them or running in place. Close the space between you and the runner swiftly but stay in control. This is to limit the runner's options as much as possible. If you over commit to running into the tackle the player has a better chance of stepping you.

Focus on the "string of their pants" and drop your center of gravity to set up the hit. Bend at the knees, eyes up, straight back, hips lower than your shoulders like a prop in a scrum. Aim the shoulder to that string."Punch" into the players core with your shoulder and wrap the player up with your arms. Drive hard with little punchy steps of your legs.

To summarize:

1. keep the feet active "live"
2. focus on the "string of their pants"
3. drive the shoulder through the "string of their pants"
4. wrap the player up and drive with the legs in short steps.

Don't try to pick the player up, this is dangerous and will probably get you penalized. Drive hard with the shoulder and legs  

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Nick Vujnovich

Expertise

I can answer most questions in detail but I am best used for "Forward" positions especially the "tight 5" and the scrum. I am a front row guy myself. I have good knowledge of game strategy and tactics. I cannot give detailed help with kicking myself but I can suggest general training applications and point you towards good resources. I am a New Zealander living in Southern California, USA. With regard to fitness or weight training: please understand that you are best going to a gym and getting first hand consultation from a qualified trainer. The risk of injury is too great for me to simply give you a program without being able to analyze your fitness or capabilities in person. I really suggest going through my previously answered questions as well. The most common repeat questions refer to tackling.

Experience

I have played rugby from the age of 5 (I am 41 now) I have played "Premier" rugby in New Zealand, London, California, Colorado. I have coached youth, Mens and Womens rugby.

Education/Credentials
College Degree

Awards and Honors
Forwards MVP 2004 Season Back Bay Sharks, Newport Beach Ca., Division 1.

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