The former England fly-half explains the key elements to one of rugby’s core skills

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Toby Flood: How to pass with precision

Toby Flood won 60 caps for England and played for Leicester and Toulouse before returning to his first professional club Newcastle. Here the fly-half explains the rudiments of passing…

Get a grip

“Passing is an absolute fundamental of the game. For those small moments where the skill-set is really required, it’s crucial to have the ability to execute properly. The biggest thing about passing is getting your grip right. If you’re going to spin-pass, you need a good, strong grip.”

High elbow

“For a right-to-left pass, have your right hand towards the back of the ball, left hand guiding it towards the target. The key for a motion pass is a high elbow; it’s crucial to get your elbow up as the tendency is to drop the nose of the ball.

“So if passing right to left, you want a high right elbow to keep the nose up and the forward spin going. It’s where the force of the pass comes from.”

Catch-and-pass

“For shorter passes, you want the ball in and out of your hands as quickly as possible. In that instance, when you’ve got less time, you want to catch the ball early. The action of passing is actually a catch-and-pass, so create a target for the passer by reaching out early.

“Getting the ball into and across your body is essential. What you’re focused on is the speed with which you get into the catching position and using your wrists to make that short pass.”

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Practice makes perfect

“I’ve made 500,000 or more passes and I still do five or ten minutes practice every day, usually before a session. At Newcastle we’ll do lots of drills: quick in and out, using your wrists, trying to pass the ball, not lift it, push at the target.

“For a longer pass we try to achieve as flat an arc as possible, as there is always a ‘loop’ on the ball due to its spiral. Your hands should point towards the target at the finish.”

This article appeared in the November 2018 edition of Rugby World magazine.

Every month Rugby World features advice from professional players and coaches on specific skills.

Toby Flood v Italy

Flood alert: the fly-half pulling the strings against Italy during a 2011 Six Nations match (Getty Images)

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