Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Basic Tactics: Breakouts

This is the meat & potatoes of the game plan (or the waffles & fried chicken if you're from the ATL) (or rice cakes & nutella if you're some sort of health nut). If you separate the breakout from a specific field layout you quickly discover that most of the standard breakouts apply across all field designs with minimal adjustment particularly when the layout is the traditional sort. (By "traditional" I mean wire dominant with only one or two "feed" bunkers between Home and each wire.) [For the time-being I am also discounting surprise breakouts like attacks to the X-side(s) OTB or extra long runs utilizing unique running paths intended to succeed because they aren't the norm.]
Let's back up and review for a minute. It's easy to confuse the game plan with the breakout. It isn't but it is a big part of the plan. Our first principle is underlined by our strategy--and the core strategy is to control the wide boundaries in order to dominate the interior of the field of play. Our choice of breakout options is dictated by preferred style of offense (Inside/Out or Outside/In) and in any given match how effective our opponent is in countering us. Once our primaries have been achieved our priorities are directed by our goals (Strong Side / Weak Side), our individual roles and the shifting positions of the opponent.
Back to the breakout. There are three other characteristics that give dimension and versatility (unpredictability) to your breakouts and those are; sequencing, lane choices & spacing. Something else worth serious attention is the ability of your players to effectively (accurately) run & gun--or as I prefer, gun & run. I cannot stress how important this is. Any team that can gun & run with confidence has a automatic advantage over a team that can't and they can bring a lot more diversity to their game.
Looking at Diagram BT 4A we have three generic breakouts that reflect some of our working principles. A is a balanced breakout with the strong side being the snake side as that is the side the Home is dedicated to. B illustrates another common snake side as the strong side breakout and C illustrates a D-wire strong side breakout. Note in both B & C the weak side breakouts take minimal risks, play short and keep a gun at Home. In essence the breakout is both offensive (Outside/In)--on the strong side--and defensive (Inside/Out) on the weak side.
Returning now to our breakout modifiers let's talk about laning first. It isn't as simple as which side of the field the Home will shoot OTB. The team has 4 other players with guns and we want all of them, if possible, shooting OTB. At this point there are two considerations; assisting your teammates in making their primaries and/or getting a quick elimination or denying a particular spot to your opponent OTB. (More soon.)
Then there's spacing which needs to be considered in two ways. First is the space between players. You don't want, for example, to D-side runners to accidentally end up in the same lane at approximately the same time even if they are running to different spots. It makes it possible for one lane to kill both players. The second consideration is the spacing between props and how we can artificially expand those distances by the lanes we choose to run. (Detailed explanation below.)
Finally there is the sequence in which players move to their primaries OTB. Sequencing easily resolves any spacing issues that arise and more importantly sequencing can turn that predictable breakout into something brand new and different.
Looking at Diagram BT 4B we see the same breakouts illustrated in 4A--with some modifications to help illustrate Lanes, Spacing & Sequencing. In illustration A the wide runners take the corners as before and Home continues to make the snake side the strong side of the field. Now however both insert primaries are being taken after a brief delay that allows two more guns to lane OTB. Alternately those same players could as easily come off the board edging the opponent's Home zone OTB as they slowly fill their primaries. Or one could shoot wide, doubling the lane snake side, while the other, moving to a D-wire insert edged Home. the result is the same primaries. The adjustments allow us to move lanes around to more effective positions, to make in match adjustments to counter our opponent and break up the pattern(s) our opponent may have scouted in advance. In illustration B if there is some concern about making the snake corner changing the sequence allows us to set up a countering lane at the insert T OTB that shoots back at the Home shooter. While that is being set-up our corner runner can delay in any number of places dependent on how the bunkers on the field block lines of sight. In this case I've delayed the corner runner back on the end line behind the insert T so he can counter a wide runner turning a gun back inside. (If you are beginning to think the timing of these sequences can be tough to master you are correct. This is where practice, communication and experience really begin to tell.)
Take a moment and go back to the first diagram's illo A and look at the running lanes shown in pink on the snake side. Imagine instead of stopping at the insert T that runner kept going to the snake. Visualize that snake runners lane's proximity to the corner runner's lane just past the insert T. Why there? Because that is a primary lane for the opponent's Home shooter. And this is another way that spacing can assist on the breakout. Even if two players aren't running those two lanes in the same breakout if your normal running lanes are too close together where they intersect your opponent's lanes you are making it easy for them to shoot you. Now look at diagram 2 illo A and look at the corner runner's path. He is using more of the field to widen the gap between the different running paths and the intersecting lane(s). The object is to force the laner to pick a target path so that he can't shoot one lane and expect to kill either a snake runner or a corner runner, for example.
Staying with diagram 2 (4B) look at illo C. Here we see the same breakout but when we add shooting lanes we see an extra lane dedicated to an early strong side elimination and some rapid secondary moves. On the strong side the move into MT puts our support into position to control the D-wire (and the extra laners OTB have hopefully killed or kept the opponent from getting wide) and freed the Push to move as opportunity allows while on the weak side the Home laner has secondaried into a position to deny/control the snake. That's just a tiny sample of what can happen after the breakout.

Keep in mind some of the more sophisticated breakout modifications require practice and lots of it. Add complexity in small doses as the team masters the last complication added. Overwhelming a developing team is a surefire way to lose them all--quickly. As confusion sets in whatever unity and confidence was there can evaporate just as fast. Build at a pace the team can handle.

Remember, our breakout primaries aren't the end of the game plan. We have our core strategy, our strong side attack, our individual roles and jobs continuing to provide direction--but it isn't enough to see the flag hung.
Next time, preparing for the rest of the point.

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