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Coaching

The Shimmy

In Rugby (warning, lots of sporting analogies ahead), there’s an important restart known as a line-out, where the Hooker (US readers, that’s probably not what you think it is) thows the ball back in to the field of play, and both teams compete to catch it to regain possession.

As with all contests, there’s a long list of rules governing what’s considered acceptable in the game, as the ideal outcome is a fair contest. The Hooker stands at the point the ball went out of play, the teams line up spaced evenly apart. The ball must be thrown in straight, and so on. Break a rule, you give away a penalty and the other team takes possession, with a large advantage in territory.

Now, given that a particular player is throwing the ball in, there’s an expected advantage to one side. It’s a fair contest, but it’s not a 50/50 battle.

The Hooker will also, 100% of the time, undertake a small shimmy towards the players on their team. Watch out for it on coverage, once seen it’s never missed.

This is a piece of gamesmanship that the officials turn a blind eye to, assuming it’s not incredibly blatant. Why do they do this, why don’t referee’s fully enforce the rules?

It’s a complex and fast moving situation with lots of players involved, everyone is trying to steal a few inches, so ruthlessly enforcing this rule would lead to lots of time penalising infractions, rather than playing the game.

The officials are incentivised to enforce the rules, but that’s only in service of a larger incentive to create a free flowing, fast and above all exciting game for the participants and the fans. So they overlook the little things where doing so works in favour of hitting the more significant goal of having a great game.

To bring it back to you, where can you put in the shimmy? What’s the small action that you can take that serves the greater good rather than the immediate short-term outcome?