The Art of Rucking in Australian Football-Advice for New Players

Here are just a few pointers to help young players learn the art of rucking and become successful.

Centre bounces and ball ups around the ground:

• The new ruckman must learn to use both hands separately, to palm the ball forward, to the left, right and backwards. Then he/she learn to use both hands and to punch the ball.

• The ruckman must learn to propel the ball into a space where his team mate will run.

• Most ruckman are right handed so the action of using that tends to push the ball forward and to the left in junior and lower underage football. So your defensive player should be positioned to take advantage of that should your ruckman not win the ball-up.

• If you have a winning ruck combination, you can set up so all your centre bounce players are facing their goal and the ball is rushed forward into space with all these players running in support. Punching the ball forward is a good option here

• The alternative when your team is losing most rucks is to have your players facing their opponent and moving towards them as the ball-up begins.

• If you are losing the ruck contests fly for the ball a little latter then your opponent using both hands to block the ball as the opponent hits the ball.

• Try always to get just under the ball where it is thrown up to keep your opponent as far from the ball as possible. It must not look like a shepherd.

Boundaries throw ins:

• Always position yourself on the defensive side of the contest.

• Try to get the front position as the ball reaches the contest.

• In the backline always hit the ball towards the boundary and forward towards your goals and into space for your rovers to run into.

• In the forward line, hit the ball towards the goals, again into space. Alternatively, hit the ball into space behind you for your rover to gather to run directly at goal for an easy scoring opportunity.

• Make sure you position your rover and other players telling them where you plan to hit the ball.

• A two-handed palm of the ball can be useful here.

Common errors:

There are two areas where players fail to compete well.

(a) Firstly, the player begin his/her run up to the rucking contest too far from the ball up.

(b) The second error is to not extend his/her arm to its greatest height to get to the ball at a higher level and before his/her opponent.

Around the ground tactics for ruckman:

• If the opposition is kicking for goal, you should be in the goal square ready to mark, spoil or knock the ball through the goals.

• When your team is kicking for goal, you should be in the goal square to either shepherd the ball through for a goal or mark the ball if the ball falls short.

• If the ball is up the ground from you, you should position yourself a kick and a half behind the ball. This enables you to move forward to take and intercept mark. Remember to adjust your position allowing for wind.

• Again, if the ball is ahead of you, position yourself behind the ball on a direct line to your opponent’s goal. Make sure you adjust your position with the sideways movement of the ball.

Source by Richard D Boyce

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