Paralysis By Analysis

Coaches once upon a time used players to win games – now players are secondary to the process. Players are reduced to being mere pawns in the game of chess being played out by an extraordinary overuse of coaching input.

Coaches now firmly believe strategy and tactics wins matches. Players are there to guard a position, block some space or exits, press up the ground, marshal/guard a piece of the arena, drop off a contest, flood an area and clearly get extreme numbers around the ball which packs 36 players into less than half the ground.

These are evolvements over the last decade that are now part of the mantra of a game of football and it is destroying the very fabric of the spectacle.

Over time we have become accustomed to and used to seeing the implications of the strategic and tactical plans imposed on the game. Now we expect it – it’s an integral part of the game.

It’s time to revolt!

Give the game back to the players!

Instinct, intuitiveness, reflexes, talent, flair, skill are all attributes we have grown to expect in our game unless you  were born this millennium. Kids these days think footy is about strategy and tactics, they have never seen a game where players back themselves with instinct and daring, where a team goes head to head with the opposition, where there are one on one contests all over the ground.

Numbskulls think defence wins premierships – history proves it doesn’t.

They also think there was little or no pressure, intensity or defence prior to the last decade – another myth.

You can enter a game of football with an offence mindset, still apply unrelenting pressure and intensity against the opposition. The greatest pressure of all is scoring. Sure their are risks associated with adopting this approach however I’d much rather dare to win than prevent a loss any day. Subsequently you can work off a defence mindset and force your opponents into error and sweat on their mistakes to score, however when you do win the ball the opposition is doing exactly the same thing. It becomes a defensive, boring, arm-wrestle.

The overburdening influence of too many coaches and too much time is creating an over-orchestrated, manipulated game of chess which sucks the intuitive life out of most players.

Coaches are heavily scrutinised on their portfolio, whether that be offence, defence, forward, back, midfield, stoppages etc etc. Over-coaching is rife. Players are mechanical robots. Their individual video review significantly affects their decision-making in a game where they take the most conservative approach in a bid to appease coaches and avoid video review scrutiny. That’s why that “un-Australian”, pathetic, backwards, sideways, slow kick has become so prevalent. Players are petrified to pull the trigger and take the risky option in the corridor forward of the ball because if it fails they will be the centre of attention in Monday’s game review session.

We are coaching the life out of our incredibly talented and skilled footballers. Without doubt players have more skill today than ever before. They can do things with the football that were unimaginable 20 years ago. Unfortunately we don’t get to see it often. Go to training and watch some of the “off-time” antics and you’ll get an appreciation of just how skilled these guys are. And then…………….

Coaches protecting their numbers, their area, their careers influence those skills, talents, instinct and intuitiveness beyond recognition. 

What’s left is what we currently have – and most think it’s pretty good. My point is it’s only 70% of what it could be. We should encourage our coaches to stop protecting their careers, stop minimising players talents and instinct, cease the retarding influence of over-burdensome tactics derived from too many overseas sojourns to soccer clubs, basketball clubs and gridiron clubs. Develop the players God-given talents, encourage him to use them in a framework of strategy that embodies the spirit of AFL.

Our game is unique – let’s leave it that way.