Ruck Craft: Essential Skills for AFL Players

May 09, 2024

Ruckmen play a pivotal role in controlling the flow of the game, dictating play from the centre bounce, and providing crucial support to their teammates.


  1. A successful ruckman needs impeccable technique and timing. From the moment the ball is bounced, the ruckman must anticipate the trajectory and position themselves to gain the upper hand over their opponent.


  1. Ruck contests are battles of strength and agility. Ruckmen must possess the physicality to outmuscle their opponents and the endurance to maintain their performance throughout the game.


  1. The ability to win contested marks is a valuable asset for any ruckman. Whether it's soaring high to grab the ball out of the ruck or providing a target for teammates downfield, aerial prowess can turn the tide of a game.


  1. In the heat of the contest, ruckmen often find themselves the target of opposition players looking to nullify their impact. Learning how to handle and break tags is crucial for maintaining influence around the ground.


  1. Ruckmen aren't just aerial specialists; they're also expected to compete fiercely at ground level. Winning ground balls, providing second efforts, and laying tackles are all part of a ruckman's repertoire.


  1. Beyond their physical abilities, elite ruckmen possess exceptional game awareness and decision-making skills. They can read the play, anticipate the movement of teammates and opponents, and make split-second decisions under pressure.


  1. Ruckmen are the midfield generals, directing traffic and coordinating with their teammates to gain the upper hand. Effective communication, both on and off the field, is essential for cohesive team performance.


  1. In modern AFL, ruckmen are expected to contribute across the ground, not just in the ruck contests. The ability to play forward, provide a target in attack, or even drop back to support the defence adds another dimension to their game.


Mastering ruck craft requires a combination of skill, athleticism, and football intelligence. Whether it's winning the hit-outs, providing a physical presence around the ground, or inspiring teammates with their efforts, ruckmen are the heartbeat of any successful AFL team.

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