Monday, December 19, 2011

Baca's Mailbag, December 19

For 2012 we will be playing D2 Xball nationally and I feel like all of our gun fighting skills individually are there, but just as a team I'm worried about the overall game plan execution. What are the best ways to lay out a game plan? How to make sure everyone sticks to their objective for that point? AND at what point do you have to change the game plan when it's not working? When you're down 0-3?

A good off season question. One I could (sadly) spend hours and pages answering but for now let's cover the rudiments and follow-up in comments or with another question--or ten. The two core points are simple; the game plan begins with (but extends beyond) the breakout and the players must know their role despite the constantly shifting game play. You have the weekend prior to the event to decide what your breakouts will be and the different ways you will sequence the runs during the breakout. (See below.) And to run those breakouts and run options until your squad is comfortable with the basic breakouts. That's the easy part.
When we talk about roles we're talking both fundamentals of playing the game--What is the wire lead's primary responsibility?--and if you're the third live player between two wire players what's your job in closing out a point? What do you do and why do you do it? And we're talking positional responsibility. What is the job of the snake side insert? When and how does the Home shooter decide to make a move? Too often what happens is teams run their breakout and just let the rest of the point happen. It is important in practice to play various mid- and end-game scenarios as teaching opportunities and in the process use those opportunities to also define what the role is of a each player in various positions on the field. Finally, despite  what seems to be the conventional (uninformed) wisdom it's very important that players communicate on field in order to cooperate and coordinate their actions.
You don't change the plan. You come prepared with a number of breakouts and alternative ways of reaching your desired primaries. You practice them in advance. Your alternatives are designed to keep your opponent guessing--and shooting the wrong lanes at the wrong times--and as pre-arranged responses to certain predicted situations. If we can't get into the snake OTB this alternative will accomplish our requirement with only minimal delay. For example, when you struggle to get your player into the snake OTB add a Home edger who delays his primary run; or trail a corner runner who is gunning back into the Home zone; or send the corner runner first and trail the snake runner who is gunning the Home zone; or delay the snake runner until other guns are in position to counter the lane shooter(s) and slingshot the snake runner once your countering lanes are up, etc. The basic goal doesn't change or even the number of players committed to the effort--just the way you accomplish the task OTB or soon thereafter. But if you haven't practiced these options you cannot expect to execute them in a match.
The basic in-match adjustments are principally changing shooting lanes OTB and responding as needed to inside/out play. Lane adjustments can be anything from edging, to doubling lanes with delaying secondary shooters, changing the zones runners are shooting back into, etc. The reason you change shooting lanes is as a direct counter to effective laning by your opponent, to increase the effectiveness of your laning or to facilitate making your primaries. Knowing when to make adjustments depends on recognizing your opponent's tactics and communicating with your players. Inside/out play refers to the tactical option of either aggressively getting wide and on the wire OTB or keeping extra shooters inside to add lanes OTB and take primaries on the delay or else play short primaries looking to make limited, progressive bumps to the wire(s). The issue is effectiveness. For example, if your opponent is playing inside OTB and consistently eliminating one or more of your players an immediate adjustment may be required. Conversely if you're playing short and your opponent is getting wide and taking the play away from you, again an inside/out adjustment may be necessary. The standard inside/out adjustment is to match your opponent. Alternatively simple lane changes may suffice. Knowing your team and experience will tell you what you need to know. Expect a learning curve and incorporate adjustments into your practice.


nickgibson said...

I have a question what are you trying accomplish in your first point are you going to come out trying to establish dominance or will you run more lane otb?

Anonymous said...

you should write a book about all of this

Baca Loco said...

Ideally you always want to compel the other guy to play your game and play to your strengths. However in the Race 2 format over the course of an event you run the risk of becoming predictable.
More important than the first point plan is getting the players on the same page and in the right frame of mind.

That said here's my routine: Given my familiarity with the teams and players we compete against I chart 8 to 10 breakouts in advance of each match. The intent is to take control and not relinquish it and the sequence is aimed at keeping the opponent off balance and showing anyone scouting what I want them to see. Under the best of circumstances it works as intended about half the time. Other times there are penalties in play, we lose a point, momemtum shifts--and the game has to be called on the fly given what's happened and happening. Even then the preparation isn't a waste because it's forced me to think long and hard about how we want to play a particular team and where I think we can take advantage so even if my play sequence goes out the window I'm still more fully prepared.