Catching a bouncing ball

Catching a bouncing ball is a useful skill in rugby. You do not use it often but is good to have when you need it. Master this skill and you will benefit in the long run.

Controlling bouncing balls

When you need to catch a bouncing rugby ball you want to keep hold of it. That`s where handling skills come in. Make sure yours are good.

You may go further and faster knowing catching basics. before you actually learn this catch.

You catch a a bouncing ball - naturally

Use your experience of other similar things. Remember, eyes comfortably focused on the object - in this case the ball.

There are plenty of things to distract you during a rugby game. Stay with the task in hand. Focus your mind on catching.

How you catch a bouncing rugby ball

Be ready for anything. Making this catch follows naturally from the practice you do for maintaining and improving your handling skills.

When kicked by a skillful kicker the ball travels end over end rolling much of the time along the ground towards you.

The behaviour of the ball will vary depending on

  • how hard the ball was kicked
  • the place it first hits the ground

  • how skillful the kicker is in making the ball rotate
  • ground conditions, churned mud, hard grass, wet, dry

but more than likely is that every now and again it will rear up from the ground.

For the novice it will appear pretty random.

When you study this type of kick the movement of the ball appears more rhythmical and you can almost feel the high bounces coming.

The ball will be traveling towards you. Either straight towards you or at some sort of angle.

Always be prepared for the high, rearing bounce and aim to intercept the ball and catch it at that part of the cycle of movement.

Preferably when the ball has reared and is starting to descend again.

Ai this stage in the cycle it approaches you as a more or less gentle lob.

Catching a bouncing ball - be ready for anything Catching a bouncing ball

If you must take the ball urgently, take it early on, on the rise.

Stand in a similar way to this image. On your toes, ready for anything, to

  • move quickly to either side
  • attack the ball or retreat

  • jump up to cope with a rearing ball
  • turn and chase if it gets past

Your hands are raised

A good way to deal with this type of ball is to let it hit your body and simultaneously grasp it with your arms and hands.

It`s more a case of enveloping it rather than catching.

But it does depend very much on how hard and fast the ball is moving when you meet it.

Avoid taking the ball in the low, fast rolling phase. At this stage in the cycle of movement it tends to be quite "vicious".

When the ball stays low to the gound it is very difficult to take cleanly.

Trying to take the ball like that can easily result in

  • simple knock-on
  • the ball shooting up and striking you in the face
  • the ball simply bobbling past you


Circumstances will vary. You just have to do your best. The higher up you take the ball the more the catch will be like a "catching the high ball" catch.

That`s the one where you reach up for the ball and bring it back down, smothering it against your chest.

The lower down you take the ball the more the catch will be like a "catching a pass" catch - and probably a poor pass at that!

That`s the one where you trap the ball in strong, flexible fingers which mould to the ball and form a cage from which it cannot escape.

Usually the ball is travelling fast and liable to rear up at any moment so it is not an option to use your foot to stop the ball (unless it is traveling very slowly).

The ball could bounce off your feet and go anywhere This could cause serious problems for the defence.

Before you catch a bouncing ball study the ball as it travels towards you.

If you detect uneven rotation ( not exactly end-over-end) the ball is becoming more unstable and unpredictable. Be prepared, get on your toes as the ball may bounce sideways.

Coach yourself to improve catching

Use your spare time to practice alone. This catch may be a bit difficult because you have to simulate the ball bouncing towards you.

Just throwing the ball aginst the wall and dealing with the rebound would help you a lot and perhaps you can think of more.

Even spare minutes between doing other things make a difference when you use them to improve basic skills. Use them to rehearse the skill in your minds eye.

Experiments have proved that you can improve by doing this!

Look closely at most skills and you will see they are just a series of simpler skills performed one after the other.

  • break up the whole skill into components
  • do many repetitions of the difficult components

  • practice the whole skill again
  • repeat the process

In this way you get concentrated practice in the parts of the skill that are difficult and less practice on the parts that are easy.

You will soon master the skill.

Know the kick, better able to deal with it

This "catching the bouncing ball" skill is required because many players deliberately create bouncing ball problems for the opposition.

They use the bouncing grubber kick to create the situation we are dealing with here.

Learn the kick so you are more familiar with what the ball can do.

When others think about how to do it, you will deal instinctively with situations because of your wide experience.

You can find out about other catches by following the link below. Add as much as you can to your rugby skills toolbox!