“A good ruckman is worth his weight in gold on grand final day.”
So said Essendon’s new Head of List Recruitment Rob Kerr in The Age on 1 May.
But where can these rucks be found? Ben Hudson may have the answers.
For the last two years, the 35-year-old Magpie rookie and ruck coach has been mentoring the team’s young rucks, including the precocious Brodie Grundy and Jarrod Witts.
“There’s a gap in the market for ruckmen, I think, as it is one of the last specialised positions left in footy” – Ben Hudson
Now, he’s looking to assist other young ruckmen who are looking to make their way in the big league.
Hudson and wife Rita have created Tall Performance, a coaching program for young ruckmen and key position players or teams at school, local or TAC Cup level seeking specific ruck or tall player coaching throughout the season.
Tall Performance is also open to individual ruckman or tall players who wish to gain a competitive edge by accessing one-on-one coaching.
The program also integrates tall training techniques into fundamentals for midfields as a whole, including structures and set ups for stoppages and clearance techniques.
Hudson’s motivation behind the program is to help fast track developing ruckmen on their path to reaching their full potential as athletes.
“There is a stigma involved with talls and bigger sized draftees where they are given four to five years to develop,” he explains.
“Midfielders come in and play straight away if they’re good enough. There’s a stigma for tall players who can take time to grow into their body.
“It’s more about how can we can fast track talls in the long run, and get guys like Brodie Grundy who come in and play straight away.”
Hudson’s new program is open to schools as well as local clubs or individual players.
“The plan is to do work there with schools and provide individual programs, but players can come in and use the facilities at the Westpac Centre and use the weights.”
“I really enjoy the mentoring and passing on of knowledge, so what sets me apart is my ability to teach the younger guys.
“There’s a gap in the market for ruckmen, I think, as it is one of the last specialised positions left in footy.”
Hudson’s 18 months working alongside the teenaged Grundy and Witts has provided him with a solid ground for teaching the fundamentals of ruckwork to younger players.
“It’s about passing on as much advice as you can, so that they understand what to do with weights and training, and at the same time being able to be out there doing it with them so I’m able to be out there while they are learning.
“It’s specialised coaching on the run.
“What I can provide is training video, feedback and lessons from what other opponents are doing and analyse what the best are doing, such as Dean Cox, Aaron Sandilands and the other different types of ruckmen they’ll be playing on.”
Hudson points towards Cox, Sandilands, Darren Jolly, Dean Brogan, Mark Jamar and himself as recent ruckmen to have carved out long-term careers after starting on rookie lists.
“There are younger ones coming up but in saying that, the reason I’m still running around is the gap in the market.
“Some ruckmen can be 20-22 years old when they come through, meaning the average rucks are probably older or hang around longer, unlike the midfielders.”
To learn more about Hudson’s program, head to tallperformance.com.au or call 0411 678 627.
This article was originally published on collingwoodfc.com.au and can be accessed here.