Catching a rolling ball

Catching a rolling ball (or a squirting, skidding, bobbling ball) is a great skill you have to use from time to time during games.Especially in wet conditions.

Rolling, rolling, rolling

When you catch a rolling ball it`s very important you keep control of it afterwards.

Good handling skills are a must.

Rugby catching basics provides good foundations for tip top skills. You may go further faster.

Good catching is vital, coach yourself!

Coaching yourself will help the team.

You can be sure practicing alone will be valuable later on when you have time to practice with other players.

You have spare minutes so improve skills on your own.

That`s when you can make mistakes with no consequences.

Thats the time when you can experiment and find the best way or even new ways of doing things for you!

Just because I say this is how to practice it doesn`t mean it`s true!

Look at lots of ideas and methods.

Use the bits that suit you and seem to work. Play about with them.

Some may be useful in certain situations. Find out for yourself.

You don`t need to go to a rugby pitch and rugby coach to improve.

Improve anywhere, anytime all by yourself but you will have to be creative.

Catch a rolling ball - you`re a natural

You`re like a sponge. You are learning all the time. All you have to do is think what to do and your mind does the rest.

It controls your body and your body performs the task. But only because it knows how to do it because you have done it before enough times to remember and be good at it.

It`s all valuable experience. It`s simply repetition.

When we want to do something new we talk about practice but we don`t remember just how many times we have to do things before we can be considered skillful.

Use your experience. Keep your eyes wide open, concentrating on the ball.

Keep your mind on what you want to achieve.

How you catch a rolling ball

It`s a natural step from the basic skills for handling the ball.

I have called it "catching" because it fits the category. You could say "dealing with" or anything you think best describes it.

The ball is travelling along the ground. It may be rolling on the grass or hard mud or slithering on a muddy surface.

It`s maybe skidding off wet grassy areas of the field or possibly bobbling from side to side because of spin on the ball or from a slightly uneven surface of the pitch.

It may be squirting as it travels over first mud then grass or out from under a player trying to fall on the ball. But basically it`s rolling and keeping predictably low to the ground.

Guidelines are given to junior players to help cope with the complexity of the game.

They are just guidelines.

They are not laws that players must use all their career as some players may think.

What you do depends very much on the situation.

What is no good for one set of circumstances may be right for the situation you find yourself in.

How you deal with catching a rolling ball depends on where you are on the field and what is going on around you.

In other words what pressure are you under, what are the consequences of making a mistake.

What are the potential rewards for taking a risk - is it worth a try.

You have to weigh it all up and then you decide what to do.

Rolling ball situations

Situation A

The ball is rolling, slithering and skipping close to the ground and towards you.

You are standing five metres out from your own goal-line. No opposition - their nearest player is 40 metres away.

Little pressure. They are so far away you have plenty of time.

Huge consequences.

  • if you knock-on they get a scrum five metres out from the try line
  • their put in to the scrum and a push over try is possible
  • they would have an amazing attacking opportunity and that means big trouble for your team

The solution

  • you use your foot to trap the ball
  • you keep your hands well away so you can be certain you will not knock-on, even if it bounces up

  • you turn slightly sideways and simply pick up the ball
  • any fumbles, the ball goes backwards, everything is sweet

You are now carrying the ball, heading into the next situation.

Situation B

The same ball is rolling towards you.

You are 20 metres from their goal-line.

Loads of opposition - and your nearest support is far away.

Lots of pressure, they are so close - you have little time!

Minor consequences.

  • if you don`t go for it they are going to get it anyway.
  • you may knock-on, but so what - they will get advantage and play on

Catching a rolling ball - reaching down on the run Catching a rolling ball

The solution

  • you swoop in for a one handed pick up maintaining pace as much as possible
  • hand skimming the turf, palm up

  • your fingers touch the ball, your arm "gives"
  • just enough so that the ball sticks in your hand

You`re through, just the fullback to beat.


TRYEEEE!!! - in under the posts.

What a lucky pick up! - they all say

Only you know how much you practiced.

You make your own luck.

When you practice and practice you make difficult things look easy and become easier for you to do, including catching a rolling ball.

Of course, there are a million sets of circumstances which cover the ground between the two examples.

Do your utmost to prepare yourself.

Then you will have the experience to deal with most situations and you will act instinctively when other players have to think about what to do and how to do it.