Thursday, August 16, 2012

Baca's Mailbag: More on Roles

An excellent question came over the transom earlier today and rather than answering it individually I thought it sounded like the sort of question a lot of players and teams might ask about--so here it is. Btw, before I get started if you haven't checked out Matty's Real Deal podcast over at PBAccess you're missing out. On topic Mike Hinman of Dynasty has some comments about roles in part of his chat with Matty around the 20 minute mark of part 1 you might find interesting.

Question: On a "traditional" layout, do you play your "better" players in the lead or the support position?

Answer: If I'm reading between the lines correctly the real question is who is expendable and who has to be on the field. Are you better off risking your best players in the lead (where they are more likely to be shot out) or do you sorta hold them in reserve hoping that your leads set up your supports for the close out more often than not. The answer to this concern is, it depends. In the lower divisional ranks my tendency would be to play my best players in the killer role(s) and trust they are just gonna be that much better. Conditions might temper that call if my supports aren't up to the job. Now I'm forced to think about what's gonna work better. Depending on how the team operates you may or may not have some flexibility. If the team is an everybody plays arrangement maybe the best choice is to put the best players together for one clearly stronger than the rest line. Or when necessary play your leads (and best players) either back-to-back or on both lines if you're running multiple lines.
Once you've moved up the divisional ranks some all the teams tend to be more closely matched across the board and maybe the "answer" now relates to your team's style of play. If you are an aggressive team that wants to use movement and speed keep your best players in the lead roles. If you're comfortable playing some defense and counterpunching maybe they need to be in the support roles. Or here's a thought: Maybe they can fill differing roles within the same match depending on how that match is playing out. One point they take the leads. Another maybe they play together on the attack wire as lead and support. And so on. There are some outside the box options.
Whatever different options you might want to consider get enough reps in practice so that when the points are for real all your players step on the field with confidence in the game plan. Always, always, always remember; If it doesn't happen in practice it won't happen in the tourney.
As should be clear by now there is no simple, one size fits all answer. In the long term the best answer is to develop versatile players capable of stepping into different roles.

While there are adjustments and "tricks" that can help pull out those critical points during an event the real work happens in practice. There are ways to help players expand their horizons and for teams and coaches to perhaps discover hidden talents in their players. One of the simplest is to force players to play the different roles during practice. Odds are they will complain--at least at first--because players get comfortable doing what they do and the most important first step in building a more versatile roster is to force them out of their comfort zones. Remember even motivated players struggle to push themselves to their limits and less gung ho types never come close. If you never demand more you will never get more.


sdawg said...

I've been listing to all of Matty's podcasts, you know what I mean? And, I especially find the Hinman interview engaging, you know what I mean? Because it gives us fans, you know what I mean, and insight into how the top-level teams in the sport, you know what I mean, operate, you know what I mean? But, it is kinda hard, you know what I mean, to follow the conversation, you know what I mean, when every single durn sentence, you know what I mean, is punctuated with the same phrase.

You know what I mean?

sdawg said...

*listening, not listing, to all of Matty's podcasts (you know what I mean?)

Mark said...

I SO know what you mean.

I cannot believe I listened to all 90 minutes of it.

Even the latest one by that arrogant a-hole was pretty good too.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Hmm, I'm struggling with this part of your series Baca.

It seems to me you are advocating assigning roles according to an overall talent, rather than a talent for the specific role.

So that "your best player" will continue being "your best player", irrespective of playing snake lead, stand up push or support (talking less experienced teams here).

In my own experience, I find that those kinds of multitalented players (who excel beyond every other player in the team, at every position) are few and far between, and that assigning roles for most teams out there (especially those that need these articles to improve), should be more about who can do each particular job the best?

So, to me, it is not really that cut and dry what "best" means.

Best OTB shooter?
Best at shutting down a lane in-game?
Fastest runner?
Best gunfighter?
Most versatile player?
Best tactical mind in-game?

I strongly believe in assigning each person the job he or she is most competent at, at events - and then work on the weak spots at practice.

And very often it is a trade off.... if for instance the fastest guy is also the best OTB shooter, you have to sacrifice either speed or accuracy, depending on what you deem most important on the particular layout and in the particular tactical situation.

Do you agree? - And if not, please elaborate :)

Baca Loco said...

Yes, sdawg, we know what you mean and it's kinda funny because in normal conversation Mike doesn't do that, know what I mean?

Yes it was and part 2 promises to be special so don't miss it.

This mailbag response was a narrow application aimed at a particular question so perhaps you are reading more into it than I intended.

And if we were talking traditional 7-man (or 10-man) I would largely agree with you with a minor reservation or two. In the xball format the game is sufficiently fluid that while I give consideration to what my players do very well the deciding factor of who plays where (and how often) isn't what they do best but what they do worst. I also tend to think in pairs--if player A is deficient in an area I need to pair him up with somebody who isn't.

Now if we were discussing in general terms an experienced but developing divisional team I wouldn't object to your decision-making process as it sounds like you're simply trying to match apptitudes with needed jobs. Nothing wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

This might be risky but .... In any sport the coaches job also is to develop individual skills ... Cross train players to fill team needs as well as give players broader knowledge of the game ... And as well solidify a unit ....
I'm inspired by your approach's multi faceted...