Flanker skills

flanking-tips

As an experienced Flanker myself (yeah ok, Old Flanker) I'd say understanding the flankers role is a great start to becoming one.

Firstly I’ll describe the main things a Flanker should be trying to achieve on the paddock.

List of what YOU need to be good at to become a great flanker, either a six or a seven

•    Ability to compete for the ball at the breakdown
•    A strong tackle with correct technique
•    Have good ball skills
•    Have a desire for hard work and the ability to keep it up for 80 minutes
•    Strong communications skills, working with other loose forwards, halfback and 1st five

The flanker has to be the most rounded in terms of skills in the team, these are the common skills for both blindside and openside, the blindside will have a few different roles to play in the team. Usually the 6 is another lineout forward, he also tends to be more involved in organising the teams defence from the fringes. The 7 has no real rules on the field, he will go where ever the ball is.

The breakdown

With the new rules the breakdown has become harder to disrupt, but there are a few ways to get in there legally. The first is to do with your decison making. You need to pick your battles carefully, looking for a dominant tackle from a team mate beside you.  Normally as they make a low body tackle, take care not to join the tackle, so you can get straight on the ball.  If in doubt, try to leave the ball and push forward through the tackle, blocking/blasting opposition players, so your next teammate can get the ball.  If you find yourself making the tackle or assisting, you need to show the ref your hands have left the player before you can play the ball, this is hard but, practice at training makes it become natural.

Ball Skills

The modern Flanker plays a lot like a midfield back, often finding himself in the backline as a distributor, you need to catch and pass under pressure and read an opposition defence of the run. I find spending time training with the backs very good for these skills, it is not always easy to get them to want to help a forward, but time spent with the backs will improve your ball skills considerably.

The Work rate

Being a Flanker is bloody hard work, on and off the field. You cant achieve anything on the pitch without a big ticker and plenty of fitness work. There are many ways to get fit and strong to become a flanker from running long distance, to sprints, to getting on a bike or rower. Anything you do, give it everything and often

This is a general overview of most of the basics to being a flanker, if you require more specific information, send through a question. Or ideally set up a coaching session with myself or another ex All Black who is available in your area.

 

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