Thursday, August 9, 2012

Basic Tactics: The Game Plan

Sorry, kids. No second Tactics post this week. This is the second one. Blogger ate the first one--a very rare occurrence because the auto-save only saved the first para--and it disappeared into the cyberaether. I know, it's the modern equivalent of the dog ate my homework--but it did!

The value of the game plan is in providing the team with direction (not each individual player) and complementary roles that begin to promote team instead of individual play. The added benefit is that when effectively executed it inspires the team as a unit with confidence. And since the game plan has plainly defined roles and objectives it is much easier to evaluate both individual and team execution in action. So that when something goes wrong--and it inevitably will, even on successful or scoring plays--the problem(s) can be pinpointed and discussion focused on how to fix it. (Btw, never rely on your player to tell the complete unadulterated truth because they don't know it. It is usually necessary to have an extra pair of eyes watching or better yet to capture mistakes on video for later review. If I had a dollar for every time a player insisted on his grandma's life he did or didn't do something I or another coach just watched happen I probably would have blown them all at the strip club, but that's beside the point.)
Too often the game plan, if there is one, is just choosing the primaries for a given breakout in advance. (Which is really only a very modest improvement over picking your primaries standing at the start.) A proper game plan needs to be more comprehensive than that while also mindful of the "fog of war" effect mentioned in the last post of the series. A simple way of looking at the game plan is that it unfolds in phases; phase 1 is the breakout, the object of which is to get all your players into positions to execute the plan. Phase 2 is the battle for field position and follow on eliminations and phase 3 is the transition into the close out of the point. Now here is where you might want to object or at least ask: If the fog of war is gonna screw with our game plan once the play has begun what's the point?
(That's an excellent question, btw.)
The point is that your game plan helps your team and players maintain their focus. They have roles to fill, jobs to do and things may change around them their goals don't need to. The game plan is a bright spotlight burning away the fog of war as it keeps your squad on track, united behind a single purpose.
So what exactly is a game plan?
The Game Plan identifies the breakout primaries; it can also identify the running lanes and sequences in which those primaries are taken; it gives shooting lanes OTB for every player with a gun up; it chooses the push or attack side and typically commits the Home shooter to the push side. While it is true that most of the action covered in the game plan occurs OTB it also provides for the push or attack. It commits players to that attack so that in combination with the players understanding of how to play paintball and practice on a specific layout they have everything they need to know to stay on track.
Here's a sample game plan: player A takes the snake OTB, player B trails the snake runner slowly enough to put accurate paint back on the opponent's Home shooter. Player C, your Home shooter, shoots a lane denying the opposition a run at the snake while players D & E take up short postions intended to control D-wire movements upfield. Since A is making a risky run B is assigned the role of countering the primary gun laning at the snake runner while C keeps the opponent out of the snake. the push will come up the snake wire with the Home shooter focused on containing the opponent on the snake side of the field until he moves out of the Home to add his gun to the final push. And D & E aren't playing purely a defensive role they are focused on keeping the opponent from challenging the push with matching corss field positions.
Before I get into the two basic breakout concepts I want to take a minute to explain a couple of other terms that will come up during the series; Strongside & Weakside. With an uneven number of players the side or wire that sees the committment of the "extra" or odd players becomes the Strong side. The wire left with two players is the Weak side. It is worth making that distinction OTB as the Strong side is invariably the push side as well. (By push I mean point or path of the primary attack. For example a heavy push up the snake wire.) Tuck those away for future use.
Looking at our diagram the primaries are identified with orange dots. It isn't difficult to project what the wire side pairs of players are likely to do but what about our Home shooter? In what we identifed last time as a neutral or balanced breakout there is to often the tendency to expect too much of the Home shooter as if he can deny secondary movements across the whole field by switching back and forth. The end result is most often a failure to stop anybody anywhere on the field for very long. As a general rule the Home shooter should be committed to the push. Given a specific and limited role the Home shooter now has an opportunity to be successful and is positioned to help the push go forward. Or fill for an eliminate teammate.
Let's look beyond that to the wider role of the Home shooter. Too often young inexperienced teams assign that role to the guy who can't play anywhere else and that is a big mistake. Not only must your Home shooter be an excellent laner OTB, he is the anchor to cross field communication, he fills eliminated spots, adds his gun to the push and is more likely than the rest of his teammates to be alive during the closeout. That means he muct also be an effective gunfighter and well schooled in the principles of the closeout as well as understanding the other on field roles and be able to play them as needed. If that isn't your Home shooter you need to reevaluate what you're doing with that position.
Returning to the diagram we can also describe the breakout primaries another way; as Outside/in. In attempting to take both corners OTB on facet of our effort is to get guns wider than our opponent in order to gain the advantage of superior angles, shooting back inside. All breakouts can be thought of as either Outside/in or Inside/out or a combination of the two. Where Outside/in looks to turn guns back inside Inside/out looks to gain extra guns up OTB with the goal of getting OTB eliminations followed by taking up closer, less risky primaries. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The more difficult one for most teams to contest is Inside/out because they often don't know how to begin and because the required skill set is more demanding. The counter to a team heavily relying on Inside/out breakouts is accurate running & gunning, edging, and counterattacks up the center of the field. The weakness of Inside/out is no eliminations and you have given up wire side positions you are now forced to match.
If you have any questions drop them in the mailbag or post them up in comments.

Since the PSP MAO is this weekend watch the webcast with an eye on those Pro Home shooters and how they play the game. It should provide lots of positive instruction.
Next post is Roles followed by the Breakout, the Mid-game, the Closeout and Games Within the Games. Starting with the Breakout there will be more nuts & bolts tactical details and situational descriptions. 


Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping the narrow minded such as myself ... Your a god

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know that these features are appreciated. The lack of comments is a reflection of the post not being controversial.

nickgibson said...

I have to agree these posts are truly appreciated now get up there in the web cast booth.

Anonymous said...

Next time, write it out in longhand, before typing it up in word and copy and pasting it in to Blogger, sheeesh!


Baca Loco said...

The old ways are the best ways. ;)