Friday, September 7, 2012

Basic Tactics: Breakout Theory

From feedback to the last Basic Tactics post on breakouts it seems some of y'all can see the possibilities but are still struggling with aspects of the how and why. Not quite sure if all the pieces are fitting together correctly. It's late at night and you're putting together a beautiful bicycle--you can see from the pictures--for your child's birthday the next morning but the directions are in Chinese and somehow or other there are always left over washers, nuts and screws. (If you happen to know Chinese, like, I don't know, 2 billion Chinese people pick an obscure language. Go with Urdu maybe. It's just a metaphor, alright?)
We are going to touch briefly on elements that have traditionally been part of field-walking in looking at different approaches we can take when designing breakouts. Before we do let's review other key elements at work that we've touched on (at least in passing) in prior posts.
What style of game does your team play? Or want to play? (You may not be there yet and the only way you'll ever get there is by making the effort in practice.) (Additionally, are there skills the team lacks that keeps it from attempting some kinds of breakouts or implementing them effectively? The answer isn't to limit what you do, it is to recognize those weaknesses and begin the hard work to overcome them. If your team can't execute heavy run&gun breakouts don't avoid them; practice, practice, practice.)
You have the Outside/In option and the Inside/Out option. You can even blend the two across your strong side/weak side divide.
What is the Game Plan objective of a particular breakout? What the team is attempting to accomplish guides the choices made for that breakout.

And here is where the disconnect exists for most young teams. You are making decisions based on incomplete or limited information. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred you don't know the field well enough! Full stop! (Go back and read that again, and again until you are willing to admit that it applies to you just as much as the other guy 'cus this is critically important.)
What you cannot do is take the basic tactics concepts we are covering and treat them like short cuts to success. It doesn't work that way. There is no easy button to victory. The goal of these posts is to supply y'all with a useful blueprint for applying lessons learned, knowledge gained and accumulated experience--not to provide the five simple steps to victory.
Granted, we already have a general sense of how many of the breakouts are likely to work because a field is a field is a field, but it's not enough. Even though we roughly know from experience where players are most likely to go OTB it's necessary to break down the details if we are going to be shooting the most effective lanes and operating as a unit during the breakout--and beyond. And, of course, for responding to the unpredicted.
Our two guiding principles when we are walking the field are; How do we take control OTB? & How do we protect our players OTB? In the first instance we are thinking about things like denying the snake OTB or making the decision to double a lane rather than let a runner get wide on a particular play. In the second instance we are focusing on how to make D1 OTB while considering alternative running paths, edgers or a delayed runner. While there is conflict between the two schemes--one is fundamentally offensive and the other defensive--they can (are and should be) integrated into single breakouts. But none of it happens seamlessly and none of it happens easily. We can't apply our general rules and automatically spew out completely complex breakouts or game plans. We have to understand the nuances of each layout. That means it must be walked and we must break it down bunker by bunker until we are comfortable we have a good understanding of where and how we can make simple specific choices that make game plans and breakouts work. And--

It gets worse. Your team is only as strong as it's dumbest (laziest) (fill in the blank) member.
The answer isn't to get a head start on tearing out your hair. It is to keep in mind that this is part of a process too. It is going to take time. Field-walking is like everything else; you get better with practice, you see more with experience. But--

It gets worse still. The game isn't over after the breakout. Not only must you learn each layout in depth in order to prepare and execute team (TEAM) breakouts every player must know the whole field--including the other team's half--because the game seldom ends at the breakout and every player must be equally prepared to play anywhere on the field over the course of a game, match and tournament. How much time does your team spend walking a new field? How much time do you spend together going over the props and relationships, the shots and the angles? Does your team have routines, drills and practices dedicated to learning and understanding a new layout? Besides that old stand-by the scrimmage?

Next time we're going to look at the transition from breakout to mid-game and our lessons to date apply. After that in future posts we'll look at specific transitional scenarios and breakdown how to play them before moving to the end-game and the conclusion of the series.


Matt G. said...

I like reading your basic tactics Baca, good stuff

Baca Loco said...

Thanks, Matt. I appreciate it.