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Control-A-Balls

pass catch skills system

5 different balls make up this innovative skills system adding a new dynamic to your training session to enhance player awareness on the field. . 

All 5 balls look the same but each one is different...

The Match Ball: normal weight and grip pattern of the Gilbert Match Ball. 

The Heavy Ball: around 650g, players must adapt to catching and passing a ball of different weight. 

The Light Ball: as above however this ball only weighs 300g.

The Gripless Ball: no grip pattern present at all, making this ball difficult to catch particularly in wet weather. 

The Unstable Ball: weighs 400g + 280g of water. The back contains a pump used to fill the inner bladder with water, making the ball incredibly unstable as the water moves. 

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pass catch handling drills

Richie Gray, Elite Performance Skills Coach and inventor of the Control-A-Balls System, has put together 6 simple pass and catch drills to get you started using the Control-A-Balls. 

Drill 1: Squeeze Box Drill

Number of players: 12+ 2 Defenders

Equipment: 20 cones to mark out the passing area

Players work in groups of: 4

Cones are set out as in diagram below to create 4 channels of 5m x 5m boxes in total creating an area of 20m x 15m.

Drill Explanation: The Coach - who can move anywhere within the grid - has the ability to change the length and width of the passing channels as the drill continues. The key to this drill is vision and communication between players. The coach can use communication or movement but no vocal cues.

Channel 1 – Defenders (D1 & D2) are placed in this channel to create obstacles and pressure, the rest of the channels are width and length pressure.

Go to drill video

“I have always believed in varying my practices as much as possible if they are not difficult and challenging they won’t change you, the great thing about the Control-A-Balls pass catch system  is you can add them to any handling practice or drill and if you really want to mix it up your Team Run as well"

- Aaron Cruden, New Zealand 

Drill 2: Non-stop Drill

Number of players: 7 +

Equipment: 10 cones to mark out passing area.

Players work in groups of 3 and cones are set to create an area of 8m width by 6m length. 


Drill Explanation: This passing drill has a quick tempo with lots of touches for the players. The players start in 3s (A,B,C) and once the drill starts its continuous, remember to keep changing the middle player (B) in the passing group so every player works in the middle and the outside of the group within the three.


The drill starts by the ‘Control A Balls’ being passed to (A) in the group of 3, by a static passer (D or E). The ball travels along the group of 3 and is then passed onto the second static player (F or G) at the end of the channel. That player then passes the ball back to the starting static passer (D or E) and A,B,C leave the top of the grid and go back down the sides ready to start again. 

For a clear over view of the drill, go to the video below and watch the players in action: 

Go to Drill video

“Because the Control-A-Balls system is made up of five different balls (Match, Light, Heavy, Gripless and Uncontrolable) I can use them to make my scrum-half passing practices harder more random and challenging before going back to the normal Match ball”

- Ruan Pienaar, South Africa 

Drill 3: The Restricted Overload Drill

Number of players: 3

Equipment: 6 cones to mark out passing area.

Players work in groups of 3 and cones are set out as in the diagram to create an area of 6m x 6m.


Drill Explanation: The player (B) in the middle of the square works by carrying one ball on the chest. This restricts the arm carrying the ball, preventing it from being used in the catching and offloading movement. 


The players on the outside (A) or (C) pass to the catcher (B) as they come down the channel aiming at the open chest, in this way the catcher must control the ball being passed to them with one hand and then offload the ball either under or out of the back to the player (A) or (C). Player (B) carries out the offload then runs through to the edge of square then returns. 

For a clear over view of the drill, go to the video below and watch the players in action: 

Go to drill video

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Drill 4: Chaos Drill

Number of players: 4

Equipment: 4 cones to mark out passing area

Players work in groups of 4 and cones are set out as in the diagram to create a T shape - 5m x 5m x 5m (although area can be made smaller or bigger depending on distance of pass required)


Drill Explanation: 3 players A, B, C stand in a line 5 metres apart. Player D stands opposite player B. The drill will aim to put pressure on player B who has to transfer the ball from A to C but also has to be aware of passing a second ball back and forward to D. In this way there is pressure on the player from side to side and straight on. Work for 45 secs then swap roles.

For a clear over view of the drill, go to the video below and watch the players in action:

Go to drill video

“The Control-A-Ball pass catch system has added a complete new dynamic to our collective and individual skills practices. Due to the design and colour of the ball they all look the same, but when you handle the balls each one has a different outcome As a player you have to become far more accurate in your execution”

- Louis Picamoles, France

Drill 5: Ladders Passing Drill

Number of players: 6 - 30

Equipment: 12 cones to mark out passing area

Players work in groups of 3 min and 5 max depending on size of passing channel. Cones are set out as in diagram below to create an area of 5m x 5m x 25m


Drill Explanation: Groups (A,B,C) put pressure on the middle player (B). Each group
has a ball which they keep from the start to the end of the drill. The group of 3 work across the grid then move into the next grid keeping the same passing positions (A,B,C) until they snake their way to the top of the channel.

Once the group reach the top of the channel they finish by coming back down through the channel from top to bottom. As there are a number of groups all working at the same time players have decisions to make on: the best time to pass, communication and the ability to step and evade potential collision within the grids and channels.

go to drill video

 

“The Control-A-Bball has been an excellent addition to our skills training aids because the five balls are all different in weight and also grip and feel. Because of this it puts real pressure on your basic catch and pass skills. When you revert back to the normal match ball its easy”

Nemani Nadolo, Fiji

Drill 6: The Traffic Drill

Number of players: 12+ (work in minimum of 3s+, can vary drill relating to numbers)

Equipment: 10 cones to mark out passing area

Players work in groups of 3+ Cones are set out as in diagram to create an area of 20m x 15m


Drill Explanation: Players are set up in groups of 3+ depending on numbers and work in an area 20m wide and 15m in length. Simple shuttle passing either one or two groups leave at the same time in this way bringing about cross-over in the middle of the passing grid.

Within this drill you can start to develop players communication, making and receiving different types of pass (shoulder, pop, short, medium, long) and you can also shorten or lengthen distance between the passing groups by changing the distance between cones.

Go to drill video

Try this new, innovative addition to your training sessions now!

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