Kicking is such an important tactic within modern day rugby, when armed with a cunning boot, gifted footballers can exploit gaps in defences, unseen by most.
As a result, it’s a requirement of all players to be able to catch a ball that has been kicked high in the air. The full back is the one who requires this particular skill and must possess the ability to catch a high swirling ball under great pressure.
This week’s Throwback Thursday comes in the shape of Scotland’s aerial magician Stuart Hogg. It is with no surprise that Hogg is almost certain to be handed the No15 jersey for the British & Irish Lions after showing scintillating form during this year’s six nations. It was a tournament that included many examples of Hogg’s exemplary handling abilities that also resulted in him being named 2017 Six Nations Player of the Tournament.
So how do we too become a high ball genius?
- Take ownership of the catch; Be loud, vocal and confident – whether it be you calling the mark or letting everybody else around you know that it is your ball no matter what.
- Concentrate on the ball at all times, resisting the temptation to glance at oncoming opponents.
- Judge the flight of the ball and move into position as quickly as possible, again keeping your eye on it.
- As the ball drops closer take little fast steps to initiate a dynamic powerful leap off your favoured foot.
- As you plant the foot to lift off, hold your arms out and up in a searching fashion, with fingers spread and allow the ball to land in a cradle formed by your hands, forearms and chest. Trap the ball as high as possible on the chest, round the shoulders and keep your elbows close to your body.
- Bring the opposite knee up when jumping and turn your body sideways to the oncoming opponents to protect yourself against the forthcoming contact and to ensure any dropped ball will go backwards.