Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Basic Tactics: Mid-game Transition

The key here is to stay focused on the job at hand--whatever your individual role may be. Since it's been awhile (no whining) let's take a quick inventory of where we are before we go any further. The breakout has been accomplished. Players are in their primaries. Remember the elements that apply; strong side, weak side, the game plan, the core individual game skills and so on. At this point it's as simple as 'know your role' and 'do your job' but unfortunately that's frequently not as easy as it sounds.
For purposes of this post and as a general rule we will assume the goal is to attack the wires. (All the same fundamentals apply regardless.) Typically that means a team commits two players (at some point) to each side of the field. There is a front (or lead) player and an insert (or support) player. Depending on the breakout primaries it may be necessary for one or both players to make some number of additional moves to gain access to and move up their designated wire. Those are details. The important part is the cooperative and coordinated effort the lead and support share in that process. The core of the relationship is simple; the lead is the primary killer and the support keeps him alive and presses home the attack. (This also frequently means being able to take over the lead role as well.)
A couple of common pitfalls distract from the process. The support gets caught up either trying to get his own kills or otherwise engages in unnecessary gunfights. What is an unnecessary gunfight? Any gunfight that doesn't advance the team goal. Any gunfight that doesn't advance or protect the lead. (There are of course some gray areas. Like keeping the opposition at bay. How much effort do you expend trying to keep the opposition pinned on their side of the field? How much risk do you accept to do that knowing that at some point if the opposition is proximate you risk a bunkering attack? There is no cookie cutter answer to those kind of questions but they are questions that should be addressed in practice. For example most teams will predetermine contingent situations where they decide to bunker out opposing players if they reach certain spots on the field. Team A gets to the X, we always go and kill him immediately. The same applies, albeit in a more subtle fashion, to the support's role.
The error most common to leads is battling on the wire. (At times in some of the more traditional snakes this is a necessary distraction. The distinction is what has the lead's attention. Where is his focus?) The purpose of gaining upfield positions is to gain access to angles into and across the field that will deliver unexpected or unavoidable eliminations. Therefore engaging in gunfighting down your wire is a very high risk distraction. the normal cause of this--assuming the player has been taught basic game principles--is fear, or a lack of trust in his support. This lack of trust arises most commonly when the support player isn't communicating with his lead. It is very important the support maintains a level of communication both as a fundamental fo game play and as a tangible link to his lead.
Each different layout will dictate how and where the support player will play. There are seldom ideal spots to play. Most every position will entail some compromises and they need to be accounted for in a team's preparation. Ideally support wants unobstructed lines of sight with the ability to hose down a particular bunker (or two) or gap between props without undue interference or contesting of his edge by the opposition support player. When that doesn't exist it is now the team's job to figure out how the support role should be played given whatever limitations a particular layout may create. So the goal in practice (with respect to lead & support roles) is to figure out the team wants to fulfill those duties as they apply to any given game plan.
The learning process for 'knowing your role' can be fairly complex. There will almost always be compromises and conflicts introduced by the layout. But once the team and players are prepared 'knowing your role' and 'doing your job' become automatic and it also means there are fewer things the players have to think about as they play while maintaining their focus on a shared, team process and goal(s).
If you have any questions you know where to send them.
Next time I'ma jump ahead to pit management principles because Cup is getting close and I suspect that might be more immediately useful to a lot of teams. And finally in a bit of somewhat unrelated VFTD housekeeping if you have contacted me about team clinics please be patient as I will have details after Cup. Just too much going on right now to fit that in--and we're going to need to see next season's scheduled events in order to finalize dates. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

This is great advice, coach.

SK 52 said...

Absolute pleasure reading and getting to understanding these Basic Tactics