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Danielle Waterman: How to sidestep

Step ahead: Danielle Waterman en route to her solo finish against Canada in 2016. Photo: Offside Rugby World

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.”

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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!”

Practise time: Emily Scarratt and La Toya Mason during England training. Photo: Getty Images Rugby World

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.”

Full stretch: Australia's Kurtley Beale during the 2015 World Cup final. Photo: Offside Rugby World

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.”

Close encounter: Harriet Millar-Mills steps around a Scotland tackler. Photo: Inpho Rugby World

WHAT YOU COULD DO

This article first appeared in the July 2017 edition of Rugby World.

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