England Women’s full-back Danielle Waterman gives her top tips on fancy footwork
Danielle Waterman has scored 41 tries in 70 Test appearances for England, often showing a brilliant ability to sidestep would-be tacklers – check out her solo score against Canada last year. Here she gives her advice on how to perfect the sidestep…
1. GET IN SHAPE
“You need good lower-limb strength, control around the knee and foot stiffness to sidestep. Lunges at different angles are good for the glutes and adductors. I also practise a speed-skating type movement – hitting the floor and driving off.”
2. REACTION TIME
“It’s about controlling your trunk and limbs as you transfer your body weight. Practise driving off each foot at different angles, ensuring you accelerate after the change of direction. Try this in one-on-one situations, with varying space. Always include a ball!”
3. READ THE DEFENDER
“You need to read the body language of the defender. What angle are they coming at you? Outside or inside or straight on? You want to stop their momentum by either sitting them on their heels or creating a ‘weak’ shoulder you can attack.”
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4. FOOL THE DEFENDER
“Look for whether the defender’s hips and/or shoulders are turned in the wrong direction. If you want to preserve space on the outside, attack towards the defender, squaring up their hips, then drive off your inside foot and accelerate around them.”
5. OPTIONS, OPTIONS
“A sudden change of pace or angle asks the defender to make a decision. Keeping the ball in two hands also allows you to manipulate defenders as you can pass, kick or run. They have to make a decision as to what they think you’re going to do.”
6. COLLISION COURSE
“Use footwork before a big collision. Harriet Millar-Mills is a good example of a big player stepping before contact. This can offset a defender, making it easier to have a positive carry and get over the gain-line. Footwork is important for all players.”
WHAT YOU COULD DO
- A simple drill my dad taught me is ‘Follow My Leader’. You all stand in a line and copy what the person in front does. So if the first player drives off their right foot, everyone drives off their right.
- Scatter coloured cones, objects and defenders in a marked-out channel. Run through the course, stepping around each item or defender (touch or full contact). Add in spins and double steps, as well as changing where things are placed, to develop your reactions and techniques.
- Incorporate a ball in ladder work to practise keeping it in two hands and transferring it across your body as you step.
- One-on-ones are a good way to practise. I learnt by playing one-on-one with my brothers – now we can all sidestep off both feet.
This article first appeared in the July 2017 edition of Rugby World.