Patrick Morrison

PATRICK MORRISON: Rethink your restarts

By Patrick Morrison

“IF you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a 100 battles. If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

This is a quotation taken from the ‘Attack By Stratagem’ chapter from the sixth Century book ‘The Art of War’ written by famous Chinese general Sun Tzu. The book has been used in all walks of life from military to business to sport to philosophy. It is an ideal book to teach how, when ‘battle’ commences, to think on your feet and catch your ‘enemy’ off guard.

Sport in general is very much like war and invasion sports, like the Gaelic games of hurling and football, are more or less glorified battlefields. As Gaelic games have evolved the use of tactics and games based strategies have grown exponentially. Indeed even the very earliest of coaches were employing tactics, in their simplest of terms, without ever really knowing it. The old adages of ‘Get it in quick,’ ‘Hit the big fella’ and ‘Hit hard and hit first’ were all basic strategies.

In the modern era of Gaelic football, good tactical dispositions have become essential criteria for any coach that is looking to succeed within our game. Any coach must know the players they have at their disposal so that they can formulate the best possible strategies for optimal performance.

Restarts are one area of Gaelic football that mirror military manoeuvres very closely, whereby one team attempts to out manoeuvre the other team using a varying degree of organised tactics and synchronised formations with the purpose of retaining possession of the football. With that said, we can now see where the quote at the beginning of this article correlates in regard to restarts.

If we break the quote into three sections and begin in reverse order, the first section reads ‘if you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.’

In footballing terms, if a coach does not know the strength and weaknesses of the players they have then how can they formulate effective restart strategies to counteract the opposition? Similarly, if they do not know what the opposition strengths and weaknesses are, how can they also create restart strategies to out manoeuvre the opposition?

‘If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.’ If a coach only focuses on their own players and formulates restart strategies to compliment their strengths, but neglects their opposition, the success rate of these strategies will be impeded by the opposition’s tactical dispositions.

‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.’ Coaches who know both their own team’s strengths and weaknesses as well as their opposition’s will find they have a far greater success rate in regard to their restarts than the previous two quote sections.

This will happen because by knowing both ‘yourself and your enemy’ you can formulate far more effective restart strategies to both play to your strengths while also exploiting your opposition’s weaknesses.

How can you rethink your restarts? Below are a few areas for you to start with and point you in the right direction:

Know Your Team

This may seem obvious but, do you truly know your team’s full potential? Are there any strengths and/or weaknesses that have been hidden to you thus far? By simply asking your team where they feel their strengths and weaknesses lie in regard to restarts, you may uncover some fantastic insight to where you can work on.

Know Your Opponent

Again, it may seem obvious but by underestimating your opponent or by thinking you know them well enough could be your downfall. Do your homework and do it diligently, leaving no stone unturned and formulate multiple strategies to counteract them both on your restarts as well as their own. Simply, if you don’t know what they had for breakfast, find out.

Restart Principles

Like any other area of your team’s game, having a set of agreed principles for your Restarts will help your success rate in this area rise. A set of Restart Principles gives your players a set of guidelines as to what to do if and when certain situations happen. It also gives them direction on what to do on both your own restarts and the oppositions. They are the underlying framework for successful restarts.

Restart Routines

Formulating multiples of Restart Routines is best practice for any team looking to be successful in this area. Restart routines include strategies and formations for both your own restarts as well as your opposition’s.

By generating a catalogue of restart routines and practicing them regularly will give your team the variation to become unpredictable. Add to these frequently so as to allow you and your team to interchange groups of routines throughout your season.

Forewarned Is Forearmed!

When designing restart routines, think of the different types of presses that an opposition may set up to counteract your restarts. On the flip side, think of the various restart strategies they may create to try and counteract your press on their restarts.

Planning for these strategies in advance and teaching your team to read them and execute their counter accordingly, is the most advanced a team can become in regard to restarts. If a team has strategies in place for all eventualities, has rehearsed them well and can execute them in play with minimal instruction, they will be a very worthy opponent indeed.

Gaelic football is ever evolving so much so that coaches the length and breadth of the country are rethinking their coaching strategies and tactics. For this reason, I say it’s time to ‘Rethink your restarts.’

Email:pmgoalkeeping@hotmail.comFacebook: @MSoG11Twitter: @MorSchGk

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