Daring, Bravery Trumps All

Roger Federer said “Be free in your head, be free in your shots, the brave will be rewarded here.”, and “play the ball, not the opponent”.

What he meant is; he was not afraid to lose and was prepared for that outcome in an attempt to win.

He had many more unforced errors but also many more winners than Nadal, who is renowned as a defensive brick wall, keeping the ball in play. This seduces opponents to play the same – just keeping the ball in play and getting it back in. The problem is Nadal is the best in the business at this.

In a similar seduction the Swans and Eagles went through a bore fest during 2005 and 2006. Both teams exerting maximum negative, defensive tactics on each other and willing them into low score defeats.

When you are afraid to lose you provide manic support behind the ball, congestion at stoppages, control the ball movement patterns and maintain possession by passing the ball backwards and sideways.

There is a lot of sport these days that engages in an Indian arm wrestle of conservative counter punching – too afraid to deliver winning shots, knock out blows, 3 pointers, length of ground tries, dangerous passes, daring touchdowns and magnificent goals.

Basketball is a classic example. Whilst its a tad unfair (nevertheless the point is made), that its only worth watching the last 3 minutes of a basketball game because only then are they interested in actually winning the game.

I am of the view that if the Patriots were a bit closer to the Falcons in SuperBowl ’17 they would not have succeeded!

It was the enormous gap that provided the coaches with the daring and the players with the freedom of spirit to concoct the unbelievable cocktail we all witnessed in Super Bowl ’17. If it was closer, the entire mental dynamic over the game would’ve been different. Falcons are still driving the nail in the coffin and Patriots are still under the pump trying to release themselves and get into the game.

When sportspeople do not stay in the exact current moment and they start to think about the outcome (predict) or delve back into the past by either salivating over good performance or stressing over poor performance, incredibly bizarre things can happen. It happens in a nanosecond, may not even be a conscious thought you remember – but nevertheless the effects are catastrophic.

Without doubt the Falcon’s quarterback Matt Ryan was already on the dais accepting the Vince Lombardi Trophy. He will not acknowledge that fact but take it to the bank – its fact. 

Both teams thought the game was over, however one team reduced their intensity to coast to the line whilst the other team rolled the dice and said “we have nothing to lose”, “lets make the score a bit more respectable through daring”, “who cares what happens now, lets just flick it and chance some things”.

It’s with the aforementioned in mind that I ask with bewilderment why is Suns coach Rodney Eade asking AFL to implement zones to counter congestion?

I was of the understanding that coaches dictated game strategy? Why doesn’t Eade just keep 3 keys forwards in his F50 zone and 3 key defenders in his D50 zone?

What is stopping him?

The answer is that unless other clubs do the same, coaches are concerned the negative, defensive tactics applied by opposition coaches will not allow their team to score as effectively or efficiently. So why bother?

The AFL are in charge of most things and are far too controlling of the game but to suggest they are now in charge of playing patterns, strategy, tactics, ball movement and structures is a bit much for me to comprehend.

What Rodney Eade is staying is this; 

Us coaches are petrified of the media, our board and executive and public criticism of performance. We want to keep our coaching role for a very long time so self preservation is our primary aim. There is no way I’m going to be the fall guy, test the market or try to break the defensive, congested nexus that envelopes the game at the moment. Why should I do it if all the others are just going to counterpunch, strangle and congest?

The easy way is to get the AFL to change rules so coaches have no option other than to play the game like Federer or the Patriots or any other great sports person or team that possesses the bravery, courage and verve to look defeat in the eye and suffer the consequences of trying to win – with honour.

Thank heavens for Bevo and Clarko!

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