Coaching Tips and Advice for Footwork and Evasion in Rugby

The sidestep is a highly refined skill aimed at confusing the defensive player in a one-on-one situation. There are dozens of variations on the side step, each difficult to define. 

The basic goal of any footwork is to trick the opposing player into thinking you are going one way, and then heading the other. In order to be effective, directional changes must occur at pace, giving the defender no opportunity to regroup. Ideal in open play, evasive footwork is a real offensive weapon. 

When coaching sidestepping, it pays to strip the movement down to its most basic form.

The Sidestep

The basic sidestep is simply a directional switch when running on an angle. As a defender approaches the attacking player who is running an angle from infield towards the touchline, the attacker firmly plants their outside foot, and cuts back into the field on an opposing angle, confusing the defender and creating more space. This movement can be built upon to create a more allusive “double sidestep”.

The Double Sidestep

Used as a “double-bluff”, this highly technical sidestep builds upon the basic directional switch. Again, the attacker will plant the outside foot, in preparation of changing their angle.

However, instead of altering their angle, they will then plant their inside foot, holding their angle and continuing in the same direction. This can be difficult as the movement must convince the defender of a directional change and the attacker must maintain their speed.

The 'Goose Step'

An extremely technical maneuver, the goose step relies on sudden change of pace to bewilder defenders. Rapid deceleration draws in the defender, committing them to make the tackle. Reeling in the tackler, the attacker then produces an extreme burst of speed, leaving the failed defender literally laying in their tracks.