Up and under

The up and under in rugby is mainly a medium length kick to apply pressure to the opposition. You aim for great height so you and/or your chasers can be there when it lands.

Kick it high

Basics for this kick

Aim to handle well and know your rugby kicking basics.

Why use the up and under

You use this kick mostly to get out of difficult defensive situations and/or where you are somewhat isolated.

Example: you have caught a high ball outside the 22 metre line, have few or no options to pass and are faced by a number opposition players chasing the ball.

You use it less frequently in attacking situations and usually when other options are reduced or non-existent.

Using this kick provides you with the potential to make ground rapidly and put the defense under pressure.

You kick the ball to a great height and when it descends from the clouds it`s difficult for defenders to catch.

This is especially true when you and your team mates are racing in to tackle!

You may also create chaos if the ball bounces, shooting off unpredictably and possibly being mishandled by players.

How you do this kick

You may notice some similarities between this kick and the spiral punt.

Knowing one means you know a lot about the other.

Player shows starting position for Up and under kick Up and under, start

Hold the ball lengthways across your chest, level with the ground.

Fingertips and thumb of the top hand each along a seam.

Fingertips/thumbtip of your other hand support underneath the ball.

Lift it to just above shoulder height and remove your hand from beneath the ball.

It's now at arms length, in perfect position for kicking.

As you position the ball you take a step with your non-kicking leg .

Player shows finishing position for Up and under kick Up and under, finish

Guide the ball downwards to meet your foot as you take the step forward and bring your foot through to strike the ball.

Avoid pointing your toes. Keep your toes pulled back, forming a 'U'-shaped bend at your ankle.

As your leg comes through, aim to kick the ball with the bony mass of the top of your foot.

BANG, up it goes!

Perfecting this kick

Up and under close-up, foot having struck the ball Up and under close-up

In the follow through ending to the kick, have a near 90 degree angle at your ankle, toes pulled back towards you.

Doing this encourages the ball to go high rather than long

Kick in a straight towards your target.

Kick right through the ball for maximum height.

The height / length of the kick will vary

  • more effort, harder strike, ball travels higher, further
  • leg high when striking ball, ball makes steeper climb
  • leg low when striking ball, ball makes shallower climb

  • leaning back, ball stays closer; too far, ball goes backwards
  • leaning forwards, ball travels further rather than higher

Choose a straight line on the field and kick along it.

Decide before you kick how far you want the ball to travel.

Seeing where the ball lands in relation to the palce on the line you were aiming for will help you improve rapidly.

First, aim to be accurate. Distance will improve over time.

Box kick is a variation, where, when, why

The box kick is used mainly by the scrum half.

You use it infrequently, but you want a complete set of kicks, don`t you? If you`re a winger, tell your scrum half about this one!

You use it more often after a scrum, sometimes after a lineout.

Sometimes used by design, sometimes simply to get out of trouble.

The idea is you kick the ball high (but not very high) into a particular area of opposition territory that is...

  • an imaginary box shaped area
  • immediately behind the opposition side of the scrum / lineout
  • extending perhaps 20 - 30 metres back from the set piece

  • side of the box is the touchline, you want the ball to stay in play
  • extending perhaps 20 - 25 metres in from touch
  • save this one for attacking situations, away from your 22m area

The area is sparsely defended and if the opposition is not paying attention they can be vulnerable.

Many players will be offside when the kick is made.They must not advance or take part in play until put onside.

If they are within 10 metres of where the ball is going to land, they must run back towards their own goal-line until far enough away.

The player most likely to take advantage of this kick having been made, is the winger closest to you, the kicker.

They would usually be in an onside position (behind the kicker), in a position to see what is happening and fast enough to take advantage of the situation.

You give the ball height to give chasers enough time to get to the ball with a chance to retrieve it or tackle anyone who catches it.

How to make a box kick

There are only small differences between the two kicks. The main difference is that you don`t give the box kick as much height.

You`re attacking rather than trying to get out of trouble. It`s a surprise. You want just enough time for your player to get there and as little time as possible for defenders to respond.

For the box kick you may be under pressure, being forced sideways or even backwards by approaching defenders or misplaced ball from the forwards

If this is the case you must simply adjust the direction of the kick to take your position into account.

If you are facing sideways, you have to direct your kick sideways so you make it travel in the right direction - forwards, towards their goal-line.

Same goes for facing backwards. You simply make sure you strike the ball when your foot is very high in the air.

You can reduce the height you have to lift your leg by leaning backwards as you kick. This will take the ball back over your head, into the box.


  • you must handle the ball well
  • guide the ball onto your foot
  • ball is positioned lenthways, straight across the foot

  • strike with bony top of foot, toes pulled back
  • follow through keeping toes pulled back

Finding out about all the different kicks will help you understand the game and help you master the positions that are best for you.

Know how you do them or know when to expect them so you will be ready.