Hooker Throw Training

Training Tips

1. Just Throw!

An important note to consider when executing the throw once the basics have been honed is for the hookers to forget about the various intricacies of throwing as this causes complications (this is credited as one of the main causes of choking) – when it’s time to execute the only thing on the hookers mind should be the aim and nothing else. Thus ‘Just throw!’

2. Close your eyes!

Seriously. Do it. By closing their eyes, hookers can use their other sensors other than sight and feel the throw towards the target. Hookers who understand the throwing process will be able accurately predict what their throw looked like, it’s trajectory as well as its aim all without looking at it.

This is one of the best tools a coach can use when coaching closed skills such as this.

Closed Eyes

3. Sing!

Yes! Players who over think how to execute a skill that they have perfected will choke thus by having players sing a song, hum a tune or even count backwards for example helps take their mind off the intricacies of the throw so they can allow their body to go through the process it knows how to do. Sometimes also called muscle memory

 4. Simulate pressure

Even mild applications of pressure will help hookers throw better during the pressure throws. An example I use is to have competition throw offs between competing hookers as well as having the entire team watch the hookers throw with something on the line. Shouting as the throw is about to occur can also add pressure and can help when the opposition players or crowd are getting stuck into the hooker. It all helps a lot.

5. Speed things up

By speeding up the practice and limiting the time available to the hookers to get set can help in their execution as they will not have time to think about their last throw or about the upcoming one too much. Less thinking, more action!

6. External Focus

Get hookers focussing on external cues like the target, the spin of the ball, the trajectory of the ball etc. This process takes the mind off thinking about how to execute the skill which is detrimental when performing the skill in a game.

A great example of this technique was the English Fly Half Jonny Wilkinson who used this technique by pretending a woman was sitting in the stands and aimed to land the ball on her. Eventually as he got better at this he imagined her holding a can of coke and aimed for that instead.

7. Train while Exhausted!

Hookers must be able to execute a perfect throw at the end of a demanding game where fatigue and exhaustion can be experienced which causes a loss of concentration and motor control. Thus it is ideal for hookers to throw while fatigued during practice. Adding burpees, shuttles, bleep test, repeated sprints for example between each throw can help train a hooker to throw accurately when fatigued. This simulates a match scenario.

Practice Drills

Knee Throwing

This is one of my favourite drills to start with when working with a new hooker, when a change of technique is needed or when a bit of experimentation is tried out.

By kneeling you take away the complication of the lower body so the hooker can solely focus on the upper body movement as well as direction and follow through

Knee Throwing 1   Knee Throwing 2

Set Up:

-Hooker on knees facing pole/ marker/ coach

-Works on throw using less movement

-Strengthens back and shoulders

-Takes out unnecessary lower body movement

Swiss/Pezzi ball sitting

Using a pezzi ball is a great tool when coaching hookers as it exposes the hookers balance and core strength and at the same time rectifying both areas.

The Pezzi ball is a great addition to the hooker as it is a progression from the kneeling while at the same time removing the need for the lower body complications

Pezzi Ball ThrowingPezzi Ball Throwing 2

Set Up:

-Hooker sits on swiss ball with a straight back

-If excess movement means too much movement on throw

-Hooker throws to pole/ marker/ coach

-Must keep body and head still

Swiss/Pezzi ball kneeling

This is not a drill I use often, however it is a nice challenge for the better throwers to try as the hookers need incredible balance to keep their body aligned correctly before the throw while at the same time they also need to ensure they don’t fall over or off the ball during the throw and follow through!

It is a challenging drill but should only be done with hookers who know understand and have honed the basics.

Pezzi Ball Kneel 1 Pezzi Ball Kneel 2

Set Up:

-Hooker kneels on swiss ball

-Faces pole/ marker/ coach

-Works on stability, after throw

-Eliminates unnecessary movement after throw

-Ensure pole/ marker/ coach is not too far away

Swiss/Pezzi ball lying down

This is a great drill to use for either beginners or with the more experienced players to get a feel of when to release the ball. This is a tough drill at first but once players get the hang of releasing the ball and following through correctly the drill is actually quite absorbing.

The aim is to ensure the ball goes up straight and come back down again in the same line using the correct throwing mechanics.

A partner is crucial when doing this drill

Pezzi Ball Lying Down 1 Pezzi Ball Lying Down 2

Set Up:

-Hooker lies on swiss ball facing upwards

-Hooker faces rugby poles

-Pole is between legs

-Hooker throws upwards trying to hit the pole at a designated point

Lollypop

The Lollypop is a great tool to use as it allows the hooker to hone his reaction times as well as accuracy or it can be used if there are no suitable stationary targets to use.

A partner holds the Lollypop and keeps it low while the hooker gets set, at the partners discretion he raises it and the hooker throws immediately in reaction to the lifted Lollypop.

This drill with the hooker standing is best used for more experienced throwers who have honed their techniques.

Lollipop Throw 1 Lollipop Throw 2

Lollipop Throw 3Lollipop Throw 4

Set Up:

-Hooker stands/ kneels at a designated point

-Coach/ helper holds a lolly pop stick

-Hooker throws to lollypop on cue, trying to hit the circle

-Lolly pop stick is moved upwards simulating a jump

-At the movement the hooker must throw without delay

Lollypop Pezzi Ball Throw

The Lollypop can also be used in conjunction with the knee throwing as well as the Pezzi Ball.

This enables the less experienced hookers to improve their match readiness as well.

Lollipop Pezzi Ball Throw

Set Up:

-Hooker sits on swiss ball with a straight back

-If excess movement means too much movement on throw

-Must keep body and head still

-Hooker throws to lollypop on cue, trying to hit the circle

-Lolly pop stick is moved upwards simulating a jump

-At the movement the hooker must throw without delay

Platform Throw

The raised platform drill is a great drill that aims to recreate the lineout experience without the need for jumpers and lifters.

The basic set up is very simple with a coach or player standing on a raised platform of similar height to the maximum height of the teams lineout jumpers.

The coach and partner then use one of the three variations of this drill. Best to use all three in order.

1. The Static Target

2. The Reaction Target

3. The Jack in a Box

The static Target:

In this variation the partner stands tall with his hands raised above his head as a clear target for the hooker to throw at.

Platform Throw - Static Hands 1 Platform Throw - Static Hands 2

The Reaction Target:

In this variation the partner keeps his hands down while the hooker sets up. Once the hooker is ready the partner raises his hands quickly – the timing is at his discretion. The hooker then immediately reacts to the raises hands and attempts to hit the target.

Platform Throw - Reaction 1

Platform Throw - Reaction 2

Platform Throw - Reaction 3

The Jack in a Box:

In this variation the partner crouches down and waits for the hooker to get set. Once set the partner gives a signal for the hooker to throw – this can be a wink or a hand gesture.

The hooker aims to hit the imaginary target where the partner’s fully outstretched hands will be once standing fully upright.

The partner waits till the last moment to stand up – enacting the throw then jump lineout common in the professional teams.

Platform Throw - Jack in a box 1

Platform Throw - Jack in a box 2

Platform Throw - Jack in a box 3

Resistant Band on Pezzi/Swiss Ball

The resistant band on the pezzi/swiss ball is a fantastic drill to build up the hookers core strength and arm power, both of which are absolutely vital for throwing efficiency.

This drill is actually quite tough especially if the hookers core strength is very weak. Balancing on the ball is difficult by itself but with the addition of the resistant band this drill  becomes a great workout!

 

Resistant Band on Pezzi Ball 1 Resistant Band on Pezzi Ball 2

Set Up:

-Hooker lies on the pezzi/swiss ball with his back arched

-Feet must be wide to provide the stability needed

-A partner is needed to hold the resistant band

-Resistant band can be any length, the tighter it is the harder it becomes. For younger players use a less resistant band or allow more ‘give’.

-Hooker squeezes his core and raises himself up in an ab crunch motion

-At the same time his arms extend in the throwing motion

-Come back down with care and ensure balance has been maintained

Pezzi Ball Sit Up & Throw

The pezzi/swiss ball sit up and throw is another great drill working on the core strength of the hooker. The drill takes the legs out of the equation and forces the hooker to use his upper body to execute the throw.

The drill is tough to get used to at first but after a few throws the hooker gets used to how it works.

Pezzi Ball Sit Up & Throw 1 Pezzi Ball Sit Up & Throw Side View 1

Pezzi Ball Sit Up & Throw 2Pezzi Ball Sit Up & Throw Side View 2

Pezzi Ball Sit Up & Throw 3Pezzi Ball Sit Up & Throw Side View 3

Set Up:

-Partner stands at varying distance in front of the thrower

-Hooker lies on his back on the Pezzi/Swiss ball

-In a swift movement, the hooker sits up using his core

-In the same, movemt as sitting up, the hooker throws

-Hands should be in front of the head following through

-Feet should provide the stability.

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