Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Playing the Game: Edge Control as Offense

This is the continuation of the Secrets of the Red Legion post. Players and teams can lose their way if all they know is how-to. The how-to needs the why-to in order for a unit to fully function as a team. This post will (hopefully) do two things. 1--show how edge control generates offense and 2--demonstrate in microcosm the way in which the how-to relies on the why-to.

The object of lane control is to inhibit movement. One object of edge control is to retain lane control. Once gained it may be seen as a defensive posture because it appears to be reactive. After all, you can't engage or eliminate an opponent from that posture unless they act first. Which is true but only part of the story. That attitude indicates that you are allowing the how-to to dictate the why-to or that you don't have a why-to that can place lane and/or edge control into its proper context. How you accomplish lane control or edge control is not why you seek to do it in the first place. The why-to determines how you will use the advantage gained in lane control and/or edge control, it gives the action purpose.

In this particular example edge control is the key. But before we get to the specifics I want to take a step back and look at the game from a wider perspective. One fundamental of winning paintball is the acquisition and exploitation of advantageous angles. Angles that expose your opponents to eliminating shots. This is paintball 101 (or ought to be.) Move into positions that put your opponents at the maximum risk, shoot them and hang the flag. Standard paintball tactics that can be accomplished slowly or quickly; the boa constrictor style of 10-man Strange or the wall of paint, wave of players rush of 7-man Dynasty are both effective and both, in this respect, rely on the same tactic. Methods may differ but the tactic remains the same. In every case movement is the shared essential element. But movement alone isn't enough. Optimal results requires timely movement, a race to reach the critical positions first.

In the offensive game the purpose of lane control is not to eliminate the opponent, it is to deny movement because denying movement is an element of winning the position race. The purpose of edge control is to take the active role. Edge control allows a player the option to move and/or facilitate a teammate's movement. Gaining control is a first step. It is a means, not an end. By way of example download the last Legion vs. Philly game from World Cup and watch the D-wire. You will see the Legion players, over and over, working into the stand up can, using the can to take control, and using that control to push another player wide or rotate over to the wire (in which case the following player moves up into the can to maintain lane control.) None of this is about slow play or defense or boring paintball. Executed efficiently and effectively it can help turn points in seconds.

Keep in mind this a piece in a puzzle and other factors come into play to varying degrees of importance during actual play of the game.

Btw, if some of you wonder if this is the way I teach my players to play, it isn't. Those who derive some benefit from the cerebral side of things get it but only in small doses. (Although with one team I did a lot of how-to wrapped in some why-to over a short period of time because we only had a limited window of opportunity and I was trying to press a culture change. The players were receptive and willing and we came close but ultimately failed to achieve our goal.) I believe as a general rule that too much thinking on field is detrimental. There are things players need to know and understand and act on but ideally do without thinking so filling heads with game theory and playing philosophy isn't particularly helpful. It can be useful however in developing players and building teams.


SSRoman said...

Good call on explaining the why to as well.

sdawg said...

ummm What is "edge control?"

Anonymous said...

Great article coach. I need to pick your brain more often.

Miller said...

Another great read. Keep the "Playing the game" articles coming!

Baca Loco said...

Go back to first post, 'Secrets of the Red Legion' for an explanation

sdawg said...

"Edge control refers to the capacity of an opposing player, either a mirror or other line-of-sight position, to contest for dominance and thus, lane control."

I think I understand what you're saying, but I think that this definition could be stated more clearly.

papa chad said...

edge control-

basically, sitting at the edge (left or right) of your bunker, with dominance on your mirror bunker, and lanes/bunkers outside of your mirror, whichever side you're coming out of. you could also sit in a deadspot and gain lane and edge control. having edge control means you're "on offense" for having control of a lane in the layout. you are the guy containing the other guy into his spot from your "edge control" position. it's a good place to be because you can basically go when you want or contain for as long as you want.

my best guess.

Baca Loco said...

Right on target. That's what it is and that's how it works.

anonachris said...

Well you can contain as long as you want until you get one-balled in the face... Which happens when you try it against someone who practices things like that.

Anonymous said...

not really... if your maintaing edge control you MAY get hit in the pack, but not likely will you be one-balled in the face. take for example, sitting in the God (center dorito... i dunno how much bunker calls change around the country), on the phoenix layout and you are edge controlling the brick bump into the snake. Noone can see you (except if they have a snake), and you will never get shot, unless they shoot you WHILE diving into the snake.