How does the Principle of ‘Deliberate Practice’ apply to the coaching of Rugby Union…? Part iv

‘Principle of Defence’: ‘Back 3 Pendulum’ Defensive System

At the same time the other real challenge then of a coach is to design and plan ‘Deliberate Practices’ that provide players to work on the key areas, i.e. the 20%, that makes up the 80% of the results, i.e. the ‘Principles of Play’, skills and techniques, so that you create the best possible environment for your players to become that best that they can be…knowing that they are working on things that are going to have a really big influence/impact in a game…and make a difference against the players that they are playing against…

How do you design these ‘Deliberate Practices’…that provide players to practise the ‘Back 3 Pendulum’…in game-like situations…?

First let us take a look at what we mean by a ‘Back 3 Pendulum’ Defensive System:-

  • What do we mean by ‘Back 3’…?
  • What do we mean by a ‘Pendulum’…?
  • What do we mean by a ‘Defensive System’…?

What do we mean by ‘Back 3’…?

‘Back 3’ means that it is 3 players that are at the back of the defending team.

The key question then is: WHO are these 3 players…? Everyones’ answer is going to be the Full-back and 2 Wingers…correct…?

So I ask you this question: What qualities would you like to see in these ‘Back 3’ players…?

Do your “Full-back” and “2 Wingers” meet all your criteria…? If your answer is “NO” to this question then who should these players be…?

What do we mean by a ‘Pendulum’…?

Here is a video of a Pendulum swinging side to side:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZTaX4u-Z_k

  • A ball that constantly swings from one side to the other side in the same arc/shape.

What do we mean by a ‘Defensive System’…?

  • “Defensive” means our team does not have the ball and is defending.
  • A “System” is “a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole” (www.oxforddictionaries.com).
  • A “System” is “a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organised scheme or method” (www.oxforddictionaries.com).

So what does the ‘Back 3 Pendulum’ look like when we put all its component parts together into the system…?

The overall set-up looks like this:-

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 21.14.15

Some real examples can be seen on this short video here…(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQkv8paydKQ).

When the Attack break through out wide…it looks like this:-

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 21.13.57

Some EXCELLENT examples can be seen in the following video clips:-

When the Attack break through the middle…it looks like this:-

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 21.13.37

Some EXCELLENT examples can be seen in the following video clips:-

What does the evidence say to back-up why ‘Back 3 Pendulum’ Defensive System should be a ‘Deliberate Practice’ that you use in your coaching…?

  1. Try Scoring Stats: From the 1157 tries scored that I have analysed to date…from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres…from all types of competition…from club games to Provincial games to International matches…including the likes of The Rugby Championship, Super Rugby, the Heineken Cup, Autumn Internationals, the Top 14…58% of tries are conceded because of NO ‘Back 3 Pendulum’;
  2. Match Video Clips: Watch these video clips showing NO ‘Back 3 Pendulum’ in action…and see what the end result is each time:-

= TRYTIME…EVERYTIME…!

Now watch these ‘Back 3 Pendulum’ video clips to back up the reason by ‘Back 3 Pendulum’ Defensive System should be a ‘Deliberate Practice’:-

So how do you design these ‘Deliberate Practices’…?

  1. The Basic concept:-
  • Create the set-up in the diagram below:-

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 21.08.52

  • The size of the area and/or the distance between the players depends on:-
  1. The age of the players;
  2. The physical conditioning of the players;
  3. How hard you would like the players to work;
  4. How often you would like to question the players on their understanding;
  5. How much you would like to challenge their communication;
  6. How much running you would like your players to do.
  • The “coach” either grubber kicks the ball LEFT or RIGHT:-
Kicking to the left...
Kicking to the left…

 

Kicking to the right...
Kicking to the right…
  • The players then move in sequence:-
  1. “Openside” player moves up 1st to collect the ball;
  2. “Middle” player moves across to cover the “Openside” player…;
  3. “Blindside” players moves across to cover the “Middle” player….
  • Repeat the exercise on each side…

There are then 2 situations when the ‘Back 3 Pendulum’ Defensive System kicks in:-

2.  When the Attack break through out wide (left or right):-

e.g. Ugo Monye: Harlequins v. London Irish (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH-c3hYfU4k).

  • The size of the area depends on the factors mentioned above, plus how “FAST” or “SLOW” you would like your players to carry out the ‘Deliberate Practice’. (Slowing down the ‘Deliberate Practice’ is an excellent tool to help the players with communication, timing, patters, and getting used to the ‘Back 3 Pendulum’ Defensive System.)
  • The width of the channel again depends on all the factors mentioned above, e.g. if you are doing the ‘Deliberate Practice’ using WALKING then you will create a NARROW channel…if you are using SPRINTING then you will create a WIDER channel…;
  • The 1st defender crosses the dotted line once the 1st attacker has caught the ball;
  • The 2nd defender crosses the dotted line once the 2nd attacker has caught the ball;
  • The 3rd defender crosses the dotted line once the 3rd attacker has caught the ball;
  • The key for the defender is to TRACK the attacker correctly…by keeping INSIDE the attacker so that the attacker can not step inside…so that it forces the attackers closer and closer to the “Touchline”…allowing the defenders to use the “Touchline” as a 4th defender:-

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 21.09.29

  • Repeat the process in BOTH directions…by just swapping the “Touchline” and dotted line around.
  • To progress this ‘Deliberate Practice’ one stage further you could create the scenario where the attacking players could attack LEFT or RIGHT, creating some unpredictability…like the diagram below:-

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 21.09.43

 

To the left...
To the left…

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 21.10.07
To the right…
  • The distance between the 1st defender and the dotted line will depend on how FAST or SLOW you carry out the ‘Deliberate Practice’, i.e. the SLOWER the practice…the SHORTER the distance;
  • The key for the defender each time is to TRACK the attacker correctly…by keeping INSIDE the attacker so that the attacker can not step inside…so that it forces the attackers closer and closer to the “Touchline”…allowing the defenders to use the “Touchline” as a 4th defender.

Ben Cohen shows an excellent example of this against Australia in the 2003 RWC Final which can be viewed here…(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tk4TKS77dM).

     3.  When the Attack break through the middle:-

e.g. England v. South Africa (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B4p55PQhYQ).

Walking…(smaller area)
Walking…(smaller area)

 

Sprinting…(LARGER area)
Sprinting…(LARGER area)
  • Again the size of the area depends on the same factors as mentioned above;
  • The width of the channel again depends on the factors mentioned above, e.g. if you are doing the ‘Deliberate Practice’ using WALKING then you will create a NARROW channel…if you are using SPRINTING then you will create a WIDER channel…;
  • The starting position of the “Middle” defender, i.e. the distance between the player and the dotted line, will depend on your ‘Practice Design’, e.g. if the players are sprinting then the distance would be around 40m;
  • The starting position of the 2 “Wide” defenders is 5m or 10m behind the dotted line AND right next to the “Touchline” on either side;
  • The starting position of the attackers is in the middle of the “pitch” 5m from the dotted line near the “coach”;
  • The “Middle” defender can start moving once the coach has passed the ball to one of the attacking players;
  • The “Wide” defenders can start moving once the ball carrier has passed the dotted line;
  • The key thing in this ‘Deliberate Practice’ is for the “Middle” defender to TRACK the attacker correctly…by slowing the player down…allowing for the “Wide” defenders to catch up…by trying to force the ball carrier to weave in and out = longer distance ran + slows the ball carrier down…while the “Wide” defenders sprint as fast as they can in a straight = short distance ran + catch up ball carrier…meaning that there are now 3 defenders trying to stop the attacking team…rather than one solo defender, i.e. the “Middle” defender…thus increasing the chances of the defending stopping the opposition from scoring and the attacking NOT scoring a try!

NSW show an excellent example of this in action against the Auckland Blues in the Super Rugby competition which can be viewed here…(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l05Tgb6iGXA).

To highlight the importance and significance of the ‘Back 3 Pendulum’ Defensive System and I would go as far as to say that it is the most important part of the game because it is quite often the difference between winning and losing a match…

England RWC 2003 Victory
2003 Rugby World Cup Champions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *