Continuing the “8 Steps That will make Your Lineout Function.” series we focus on Step 4 Lifting in the Lineout.
The lifters’ job is to help the jumper get as high in the air as they can, and then ensure they bring him back to ground safely.
What are the dynamics of the lift at the lineout?
For the lineout to function effectively, it is important that the lifters grip the jumper in the right areas. The front lifter aims to lift the jumper just above his knees, while the back lifter should lift the jumper at the top of his hamstrings, or just under his glutes. The lifters explode through the lift from a squat position, aiming to lock out their arms and get as close as possible between the jumper’s legs. Ideally, the lifters should be chest-to-chest under the jumper with arms locked out and at maximum extension.
What is the best technique for lifting in the lineout?
Ideally you want the lifter lifting the jumper just above his kneecaps and we want the back lifter lifting just underneath the backside creating a cradle with his hands and a very strong, explosive lift to get the jumper as high as he can in the air. Ideally both lifters are ‘chest to chest’, creating a nice tight A frame to get the jumper in the air.
Your main job is to lift and there are some big lads so you have to use your big muscles to lift to get them off the floor.
- Squat position and fire up from the floor to the air.
- Good grip of the locks legs.
- Hand eye co-ordination, knowing where the target is. The bloke often runs towards you so you have to have your hands in the right place.
- Then power through the straight spine and through the arms and lift.
- Your big muscles basically work with their momentum and you can throw the guy up and catch him at the top and have the strength to be at full extension and hold the guy in the air. Sometimes if there is a lineout next to you the opponent might be very good in the air but you have to have the physical strength to hold him at full extension.”
Dan Cole, England and Leicester Tigers Prop
“Lift technique is just about putting your full power into it. At professional level, we work on explosive Olympic lifts in training. Throwing a bar up over your head isn’t too dissimilar to throwing a lad up in the air like a lineout lift. The lineout lift itself is fairly basic. I rely more so on speed across the ground to get to the jumper. That is an important area. If you are powerful in your lift and get your hands in the right area, it is going to be a good one but it is the speed into position that is going to make the big difference. If I can get from the front to the tail of the lineout in two seconds then hopefully I have been faster then the time it takes for the opposition to react and by that time, hopefully we have won the ball.”
Cian Healy, Ireland and Leinster Prop
What is a jumper looking for from the lifters?
Flanker Tom Wood explains what he looks for when jumping in the lineout. “They’ve got to try and keep a firm hold of you. They have to go from that upright locked out position to a half squat position themselves, very tight to the jumper and get their heads almost together behind the jumper so you have a strong foundation to maul on or to set a play off.”
What is the hooker looking for from the lifters?
The Hooker throws to space and not a person so if the jumper is early or the Hooker late the lifters have to provide a stable base and be strong enough to keep the jumper in the air as Second Row George Robson highlights. “Lifters should be able to hold you there for a length of time, which allows for a margin of error with the Hooker’s throw if it’s late.”
When is the lift over?
Safety is paramount and the lifters are responsible for the jumper while he is in the air and also to get him back to ground. Prop Mike Ross makes it clear that it’s the role of the lifters to look after his man in the air and bring him back to ground safely. “At lineout time, always look after the man you’re lifting. You put him up there, put him back down. I’ve seen a few long-term injuries from not doing this.”
Watch my video on the 8 Steps to make your Lineout Work now.
Gavin Hickie, USA Rugby Collegiate All-Americans Forwards Coach, is a former Ireland A & 7s, Leinster and Leicester rugby player now U.S. Naval Academy Director of Rugby following 5 successful seasons as Head Coach at Dartmouth Rugby. He writes for RugbyToday.com and other publications when not coaching and blogging on lineoutcoach.com