Play footy like it has never been played before!

Play footy like it has never been played before!

By Eee Madgin

Added 05 Jun 2014

Footy has been played for over 150 years and I have seen a lot of games over the years.  Some of the following ideas have not really been used by any team…well, not in any noticeable way, anyway.  Others may have been used in limited ways.

Some of the ideas here were presented in brief here:

I quote an excerpt from the article:

Eee Madgin:  The whole idea of what I am about to say revolves around not giving the ball up to the opposition without a fight.  What do you do when you are tackled and there is not a team mate in sight to dish off the ball to?

Matt E Matical:  I would handball towards the boundary and then run back hard to defend.

EM:  Here’s a better idea.  Why don’t you handball as high as possible.  That way, by the time the ball comes down, you can compete for it again.  If your opponent still has hold of you, you’ll get the free.

{The team practiced this inside the room; and it worked just fine.}

EM: The same idea applies when you are coming out of defence and are under pressure, but have nobody to kick it to.  What you do is to kick it as high as possible like a gridiron punter.  The idea is to land it about 20 metres in front of you in about 3-4 seconds; so you can get to the contest and give your team a chance to retain possession. {End quote}

The above are the main two ideas (Notions 1 and 2) which are implemented simply.  The ideas that follow may be either obvious winners, totally untested or in the “doubtful” category.  And they are just the tip of the iceberg. There will be dozens of special plays used in the next decade or so.  And then, dozens of methods of overcoming those set plays. Furthermore, ways of overcoming the way of overcoming will be invented.

Notion 3: The tackle in the forward 50

The first thought of a tackler is to retard the opponent and ensure he

doesn’t get away an easy handball.  So the effort is concentrated on

lockdown.  And rightly so – when the opposition is within range of goal.

But when we are within range of goal, another tactic can be applied (unless

there is a big danger of a fast break away to the opposition).  The player

applying the tackle should wrap the opponent up as if to force a stalemate.

Then, a second or so prior to the umpire blowing the whistle for a ball up,

our player releases the tackle enough to allow the opponent a chance to

dispose of the ball. As soon as the player realises that he is capable of

releasing the ball, the lockdown tackle is re-applied and we win

a free shot at goal.

Notion 4: The Wide Kick into forward 50

If one of our players is kicking into the forward 50 and only has a target leading wide, the defence often has the advantage in spoiling the ball across the boundary line.  What the player with the ball can do is to kick the ball on top of the backman’s head (with not a huge hang time but also not a bullet pass).  Then the player leading towards the boundary can turn around and become the hunter, rather than the hunted.  If he marks, he is on a better angle.  If he has to spoil, he will generally punch the ball inwards – thus increasing the chance of scoring a goal if our players get to the ball first.  This could especially be used if the swoopers running into 50 through the corridor are our players.  The slight hang time taken when kicking on top of the backman’s head generally gives enough time for one or two swoopers to arrive on the scene, but not enough time for an ugly pack to develop.

Notion 5: Swinging on to the non-preferred foot

This is ideal for players renowned for their inability to kick with the non-preferred foot.  Once the opposition “work him out”, then he can grab the ball and swing the other way.  IE: if he always swings left, then he breaks the trend and swings right.  This should be used in the forward half, so that the unexpected free space can enable the player to kick a goal or create a goal assist.  This has often been used in all levels of football, but it is underutilised in my opinion.

Notion 6: Early on in a crucial match (or one when the opponent is known to be really fired up

In these circumstances, the opposition players can tend be “over-aroused”. This means that they are so hyped up that they risk making errors.  A good ploy to use in this case is “stopping dead”.

It works like this: you are going to be first to the ball, but it is obvious that an opponent is hot on your tail and will tackle you as soon as you get the ball.  With little likelihood of getting away an effective disposal, the best thing to do is to stop completely just before picking up the ball (or bend over to pick it up, but then grab fresh air).  Often the opponent will be so keen that they will tackle you without the ball or, with huge momentum, push you in the back.

If the ploy doesn’t work, it rarely results in the opposition getting a clean break, so it is low risk.  The Roos appeared to use this ploy effectively in the 1982 elimination final, though it is unclear whether it was planned or not.

Notion 7: The “Few Goals down in a crucial game” idea

Those as old as me will remember the Blues in 1970 deciding to handball in the back line after half time in the grand final.  Regular handball was considered a no-no in those times.

The following ploy can be used when the small possibility of winning outweighs the risk of losing percentage.  Often, in such situations, your opposition will be trying to slow the game down and force a series of ugly packs & ball-ups to occur.

When the ball is in a pack situation and there is not an obvious clear path out, then handball the ball into the air.  Not as high as the hang time handball, but high enough so that a team mate, expecting it to happen, can run in and punch it forward to an advantageous position.  Once the opposition begins to work it out, then you run variations on the theme – handball forward, right, left, at a 45 degree angle.  A decisive breakaway may only need to occur once in every several ball-ups for your team to benefit.

Some teams like to “suffocate the ball” by swarming the area. As such, the close in handball becomes more risky.  The solution here is to have a wide outrider and handball wide and long out to him. Getting the long handball out requires more skill than a short handball, but can result in a fast breakaway. It can be pre-determined to handball in a certain direction – eg a 15 metre handball going to the grandstand side.  This can be done without actually looking, knowing that a team mate will be there.

Another option, probably for the last quarter and a few goals down, to try is this: the opposition has just scored a goal and there is a centre bounce.  A signal goes out that most of your team will run to a pre-determined spot.  Such a spot to run to may be the corner of the square at half forward. This is very risky, but may lead to a goal if our team wins the ball.  So, if you win the ball at the centre bounce, the player kicks it just in front of the pre-determined spot.  Your team mates then run towards the ball and would probably have extra numbers running towards goal.  Of course, if the opposition wins the ball, they are likely to have loose players in their attacking area.  The “severity” of this ploy can be tweaked depending upon the desperation of the situation.  You may have 3 -5 players running to that spot or, perhaps, 8 – 12 players running there. It is likely that the opponents will be perplexed as to how to respond (do they all follow our players or remain in their “proper” positions).  There are multiple “set play” options to be used at a centre bounce.  This equates roughly to the start of a play in gridiron.  It is probably handy to have 3 – 6 different patterns for the sake of variety and to cover varying degrees of desperation.

Notion 8: Do I go flat out for the intercept mark or play it safe?

To explain the situation: your opponent is in front of you and looks likely to take a mark.  If you run flat out, you may just get there in time to take an intercept mark – or maybe get in a late spoil.  But your momentum is likely to carry you past your opponent to the degree that he will be able to play on (without restriction) if your attempted interception / spoil doesn’t come off. So you are going to look really silly if your surge at the ball fails.

Here is the answer:  you should (noise levels permitting) have a team mate letting you know whether or not he “has your back”.  If so, then you can go at it 100%.  Then, even if your opponent does mark or take clean possession, your team mate can stand the mark (while you look for any other loose opposition player who may be the next link in the chain).

If there is no back-up, you need to play it more conservatively.  But remember that not all players take a clean, one-grab mark.  So if you are too late to spoil a clean mark, then get in close enough to knock the ball away in the event of your opponent taking a multiple grab mark.  You can often get the punch in between the first and second grab.

Notion 9: A variation on notion number 1, which is the hang time handball

This is to be used when our team is in a goal scoring position.  You grab the ball inside our forward 50, but you are heading towards the boundary with an opponent hot on your hammer.  His ONE AND ONLY intent is to get you and the ball over the line.  Given the fact that no team mate is in sight, the usual thing to do is to allow yourself to be run out of play.  This seems a better choice than to pull up inside the line and then get pinged for holding the ball.

But a better thing to do is to handball the ball into the air just inside the line.  It should be handballed high enough to give you a chance to turn around and knock / punch it back into play.

In most cases, the worst thing that can happen is the ball will go out of play, which was what was going to happen anyway.  Only in a tiny percentage of occasions would your opponent get a clean break from you with the ball (and most of those cases would result from you not getting the handball right anyway).

When it works, you will be facing towards the scoring area and may be able to see the best direction in which to punch the ball.  If the only thing you see are opponents in your range of vision, then you can make a feeble attempt to punch the ball back into play – thus allowing your opponent to easily punch the ball out of play – or try to apply a lock down tackle on your opponent as soon as he grabs the ball.  In that case, you will either end up with a ball-in (nothing lost) or you may get a free for deliberate out of bounds.

Notion 10: Tackling an opponent who always seems to be able to get an arm free to dish off a handball

Some players have an uncanny knack of getting an arm free to dish off an effective handball (to quote Kenny Casellas).  These players fall into 2 categories.  Some get the handball off so quickly that you didn’t even realise it happened.  These guys are extremely hard to stop, but their handpasses may not always hit the target.

The second category (where we will focus for this idea) is the bloke who gets his hands free and then has a good look around so as to assess the best option. Maybe the best current example of this is Scott Pendlebury (often using his height as an advantage).  These guys are the more dangerous in terms of hitting the target with the handball.  But they can also be stopped, if you think about it.

What they are doing is looking around, knowing that they have a few seconds before the umpire will penalise them.  The tackler normally has a grip around the player’s waist – not wanting to let go for fear of the player breaking away altogether.

During this period of a few seconds, this is the time for a second team mate to come in and apply a second tackle – to the opponent’s punching arm.  Because the player has already had a prior opportunity, a good second tackle will often result in a free kick being paid to our team.

Notion 11: Your very own medical kit on the ground

Don’t you hate it when you get sent off due to the blood rule.  Well, in many cases, you can avoid this – if each player has a cloth to soak up the blood and a simple, light bandage to apply to the wound.  A team mate can even help you out before the umpire has spotted it.

Notion 12: Didn’t hear the “play on” call from the ump

This may occur more in AFL games than elsewhere, but you often hear very clearly the umpire’s call of “play on”.  The player on the mark often just stands there like a statue.  Although he may be guarding space, in most cases he just hasn’t heard the call. This can be solved.  The player on the mark is generally not looking at the umpire (although one or two of them have done this).  They prefer to look at the player with the ball.  The team should have a player (or trainer, runner etc) standing behind the opponent and looking at the ump.  He can give a signal as soon as they “play on” call is given.

If the ball is in our forward line, another option (high risk, high reward) is to play one player short ahead of the ball.  Our “loose” player can stand back unnoticed and then swoop once the ump has called “play on”.  This was successfully done by Hayden Ballantyne against James Kelly in R9 of 2014.  If the player taking the kick is near the boundary, our “loose player” can stand on the fence line and then “suddenly appear” to tackle.  Or, if the free / mark is near the interchange, our team can play one short and then our player can charge onto the ground to affect the tackle.