by Wayne Smith
Sevens is all about POSSESSION. The key requirements are to keep the ball to and win the ball.
1. Attack = possession. You must have the ability to win the ball and retain it, even when going backwards, sideways and under pressure.
2. Clear pressure immediately. You must move the ball away from areas of congestion immediately, rather than pick it up and run. The exception to this is when you're close to the tryline.
3. Use the full width of the field. Stretch the defence, make the gaps bigger.
4. Maintain depth in attack. This may require you to step backwards after passing the ball, thus giving the ball carrier an option to pass back to you. A deep attack is effective and has options. Attacking players should always be available.
5. Support is vital. Players must support in their zone, rather than chase and have their 'nose to the ball' as a support player would do in traditional rugby.
6. Create options. As the ball moves towards your zone, create options by changing angles, calling, feinting and generally trying to confuse the defence. Players should try to be a threat to the defence.
7. Defence = pressure. Reduce opposition's time and space. Come up together, and move across as a unit, keeping body angles pointing outwards. There is no offside from general play.
8. Man-on-man defence. Pick up the correct man by counting from the outsides. Communicate who your man is.
9. Zonal defence. Mark a man within a zone. If players switch angles, pick up the new player that comes into your zone.
10. Watch the ball less. Too much ball watching gives your man the opportunity to change lines/angles and make a break.
11. Sweep. Someone must cover kicks-through and breaks. Sweeping can be done by the outsides (thus the defence is umbrella-shaped with the wings back a bit) or there can be a permanent sweeper.
Download a informative an insightful Sevens strategy PDF please click here.
A key component in the success of Sevens teams is physical preparation and fitness levels. The most often-used tests include speed over 20, 40 and 60 metre standard bleep test; press up test; a medicine ball throw to measure explosive power; 1minute shuttle; 300 metre time trial; and 3x1km time trials.The game is about explosive power and speed, and to achieve the required fitness levels the players should focus on 'short' speed (up to 30 metres) and 'long' speed (up to 60 metres). Quality work needs to be at least twice a week if the best results are to be achieved. An example might be: anaerobic fitness on Monday and Wednesday, training on Tuesday and Thursday, rest Friday, compete Saturday and have a short recovery session on Sunday. In the absence of competition on a Saturday, players should do weight training or interval training.
A good interval exercise is where the player runs hard for 4 minutes, run easy for 4 minutes, run hard for 3 then easy for 3, run hard for 2 then easy for 2, then run hard for 1 and easy for 1.
It is very important to do at least two fatigue sessions and one or two speed sessions per week, as players need to have serious stamina to keep going.
Fitness also includes nutrition and hydration. Meals should be consumed at least 2 hours prior to competition, and players should watch what they eat during the day. Light snacks such as bananas, Mars bars and the like can help between matches, but care must be taken to ensure sufficient time between eating and playing (generally at least an hour).
Adequate hydration is essential: no matter how much fluid is lost, the body cannot absorb more than about 500ml per hour. It is therefore important that players are properly hydrated prior to playing, that continuous hydration goes on in between games, and that the skin is cooled as quickly as possible. For this, applying ice packs to the wrists or spraying a fine mist of water on the face and neck can be most useful, thereby reducing perspiration and thus fluid loss.
Article courtesy of NZ Sevens Handbook