The “8 Steps That will make Your Lineout Function.” series continues with Step 5 Timing.
What is timing in the lineout?
Timing refers to everything throughout the lineout. The first part to get into position, the timing of that, and then get into the air, the timing of the jumper and two lifters is extremely important and then allied to that obviously is the timing of the hooker’s throw.
How do you work on your timing in the lineout?
As a forward pack you will have to work out when the optimal time to throw is. This depends on the lineout call and takes practice. The best way to start is by going through the lineout call without the ball for a few reps.
With the jumping pod going through their roles without the ball, the hooker can observe when the jumper is at maximum height. That’s why it’s a good idea to do a few reps without the ball and lets the jumping pod concentrate on doing their individual and collectives job(s) without the pressure of the having to catch the ball.
How do you work on the timing of the lineout throw?
When the jumping pod and hooker are ready, it is time to get the timing of the throw right. Depending on where the lineout call is made to, the ball should leave the hooker’s hands, as the jumper is about to jump.
The only time there is an exception to this, is the flat throw at the front, on the 5m line. This is due to the fact that there is such a short distance to throw the ball it doesn’t matter if the jumper is in the air, he just needs to get in front of his opposition jumper and he will win the ball.
It is important to note that, the hooker throws to a space in the air, above the lineout, based on the lineout call. He does not throw to, or at, a jumper, unless the call is a flat ball at the front of the lineout. For all other lineouts, the Hooker throws the ball as or before the jumper jumps. If he waits until the jumper is in the air, to release the ball, the jumper will be on his way down by the time the ball gets to him.
There are various triggers within the lineout that determine when the hooker should commence his throw. This can be a nod from the jumper, the movement of a lifter or on a timed throw, the hooker’s throw itself is the trigger.
How to improve timing at the lineout
Springboks Lock Eben Etzebeth believes decision making and communication are very important when it comes to winning lineouts – between the caller, the jumper and the supporters. “Lineouts are actually very technical and as a jumper, I have to ensure I get off the ground on the right spot, at the right time and the right speed, so timing is also very important.”
England Coach Simon Hardy reminds us to “make sure the hooker understands the lineout movement e.g. speed of jump.”
All Blacks Coach Mike Cron believes it’s about understanding and communication among the entire pack while practicing the calls. “Allow time to discuss and walk through each throw so the thrower/jumper/lifters are all on the same page. It sounds simple but quite often teams move on to the next throw without really nailing the last option and getting a full understanding of each other’s role.”
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