Ending congestion

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Lavender Bushranger

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 25, 2005
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Congestion happens because of poor footy. Poor skills not poor game plans. Good teams still open the game up and play a terrific brand of footy.
Richmond are the best team - but are the worst to watch because they clog the game up at every possible opportunity. That's their game plan. They swarm the player with the ball, and sit loose defenders back just waiting for the pressure kick.

Sydney did this when they were the best team in the comp - and St Kilda did it for about 5 years under Lyon and nearly won two flags.

The only reason "Good teams still open the game up and play a terrific brand of footy" is because the opposition's defence has broken down. And this is why coaches spend all their time teaching defence, and why 'good teams' still can't kick over 80 points each week.


The issue is that good defence beats good offence. A team like Richmond win because of their defence, as did the other two mentioned above. The balance of power in AFL footy, lies with the defence. It never used to.

Defence has always been important, but the way the game was played meant the balance of power was with the offence.

The fact that Hardwick stated that he values tackling and pressure when recruiting over skill says it all. There's never been a time in AFL footy where that would apply.


So basically, I disagree with you. Apparent poor skills are caused by high pressure defence, and high level team defence further up the ground.
 
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Lavender Bushranger

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 25, 2005
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So trending 2009/10 to 2018/19, the top teams have gotten worse at scoring - whilst the bottom teams have gotten much better at defending.

Interestingly the drop in scoring is more prevalent with the top 8 teams than it is with the bottom teams. So the 'good teams' now, are scoring much less than the good teams used to.

Combine this with the fact that sh*t teams have improved their Points Against moreso than the top teams have over that same time period - it's evident that modern structures and defensive strategies have made it easier for bottom teams to restrict the good teams.

Lower scoring alone isn't the issue though. The issue is that "modern structures and defensive strategies" are terrible to watch. Gang tackling, swarming, flooding, rolling mauls etc. are all tactics designed to stifle the opposition. And clearly, they work.


Therein lies the problem.
 
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gbatman

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Mar 26, 2008
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Richmond are the best team - but are the worst to watch because they clog the game up at every possible opportunity. That's their game plan. They swarm the player with the ball, and sit loose defenders back just waiting for the pressure kick.

Sydney did this when they were the best team in the comp - and St Kilda did it for about 5 years under Lyon and nearly won two flags.

The only reason "Good teams still open the game up and play a terrific brand of footy" is because the opposition's defence has broken down. And this is why coaches spend all their time teaching defence, and why 'good teams' still can't kick over 80 points each week.


The issue is that good defence beats good offence. A team like Richmond win because of their defence, as did the other two mentioned above. The balance of power in AFL footy, lies with the defence. It never used to.

Defence has always been important, but the way the game was played meant the balance of power was with the offence.

The fact that Hardwick stated that he values tackling and pressure when recruiting over skill says it all. There's never been a time in AFL footy where that would apply.


So basically, I disagree with you. Apparent poor skills are caused by high pressure defence, and high level team defence further up the ground.
I love watching Richmond, I do appreciate good defence however. Their ball movement is quick and elite and in 2017 their get the ball to the back of the oppositions zone tactic was brilliant.

Teams do lock the game down after taking a lead to crush opposition's comebacks before going attack again. A big criticism I have of Carlton because the blues don't do it.

Tigers have a super skilled, fast and physically mature side with two gun tall forwards. Their offensive game is brilliant how they can move the ball forward and bust through congestion. Getting through a zone quick is key but you need these things. If the AFL, slow the game down, encourage lighter bodies, encourage athletes over skilled footballers and discourage big tall forwards like i believe they are then this prevents sides from being able to bust through team's zones.

The game has always been about balance between defence and attack. Good pressure V good skill. The better players don't fumble and don't miss targets but if you make the game about run you get athletes that do. Pressure just makes lesser skilled players more exposed. That's what you get if you have the talent too diluted and encourage athletes over footballers. Top players handle pressure.

The game was out of balance the other way in the 90s and 80s at times too and it looked sh*t. No one wants to see big floggings and teams scoring really easily. The 89 grand final looked like i could run out there and kick a few and elite sport shouldn't look like that. It was a novelty but it lacked challenge. Elite sport should be hard and challenging. It should be a contest.

Its like comparing T20 to test matches. Easy scoring where the teams score all the time is boring. Tests where all sides score over 400 and it ends in a draw is boring. Give me a test match where its all over in 3 days over that.

Soccer is the most popular game in the world and it's low scoring and all defence. Our game is far from that but saying scoring is too low, people want more scoring isn't accurate. I think people want to see skill and a bloody tough challenge.

The game is fine but the AFL IMO are making the wrong rule changes. Teams will always zone and press up and back. Don't try and stop that, try and encourage teams to overcome that.
 

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big_e

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View attachment 1030825

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So trending 2009/10 to 2018/19, the top teams have gotten worse at scoring - whilst the bottom teams have gotten much better at defending.

Interestingly the drop in scoring is more prevalent with the top 8 teams than it is with the bottom teams. So the 'good teams' now, are scoring much less than the good teams used to.

Combine this with the fact that sh*t teams have improved their Points Against moreso than the top teams have over that same time period - it's evident that modern structures and defensive strategies have made it easier for bottom teams to restrict the good teams.

Lower scoring alone isn't the issue though. The issue is that "modern structures and defensive strategies" are terrible to watch. Gang tackling, swarming, flooding, rolling mauls etc. are all tactics designed to stifle the opposition. And clearly, they work.


Therein lies the problem.
Chart crime.
 

gbatman

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You will never ever see footy where teams don't use zones and don't push forward and back. Those days were over 20 years ago and they're long gone. Most people don't mind the game upping the defensive side, the viewership and following of the game I am pretty sure is increasing despite the raised concerns. Soccer, Rugby, American football are all games that are much loved and are defensive and low scoring. AFL is still much higher scoring compared to those but taking aspects of these games IMO makes the game more marketable to people following those codes of sport.

I don't think targeting congestion is the right thing to do here. At least not the way the AFL have. I think focusing on the aesthetic part of the game and ensuring those things remain strong is the key aspect here. Fast ball movement, clean hands, good all round skills, marking, kicking and carrying the footy. So you need to encourage players who can do that. Let teams defend they way they are, teams are always going to do that, make a game where skilled and strong players are rewarded/selected. At the moment we have a game where runners are rewarded over natural footballers. Players who fumble, can't kick well and are generally average footballers are going to get played ahead of a bloke who's not a great runner but has nice skills.

If the game is congested it's easy to sort that out. Means there's areas of the ground that are wide open. You want teams to be able to win the ball and get it as quick as possible to those areas. So what do you need to do to do that when there is congestion? Get it clean and move it quick. The key is to let teams congest the game and let teams be able to bust away and get the ball quickly out of the congestion.

You first need quality talls. Big strong blokes who can take a grab and give a contest you can go long to. You need to be able to get it and go long. Richmond have two gun talls. Geelong have one and have chased hard to get another. Why? Because they kick goals and allow the team to move the ball quick and long to open the game up. They are congestion busters. So why aren't there more quality talls around the league? Because the game has become all about running and generally big strong tall forwards aren't the best at this.

How do you fix this? Scrap rotations and allow 5 on the bench for a start. Stop trying to make players tired and play positional footy, that will never ever work. Teams want to go with 7 forwards, 7 backs and 8 midfielders or thereabouts. Allow one more and they will mostly chose a second ruckman which means it's a damn lot easier to fit two genuine tall forwards into a side which allows faster and better ball movement.

You allow free rotations to keep players fresher and you get bigger stronger players and a player or two picked who may not be that quick but are great footballers. Dane Swan, Sam Mitchell, Josh Kennedy types who are solid lads who can seriously play but don't fit the run up and back defend like mad mantra. They become more in vogue and your fringe players are more likely to be skilled footballers than athletes. So all of a sudden bigger stronger blokes around the ball create more broken tackles and more clean clearances.

The game is also so much about breaking the first tackle which isn't a bad thing, it's just teams are forced to play light bodies who can't do this as well. If teams do that well then they get away better. Dustin Martin is probably one of the best as is Cripps. These sorts bust open congestion. Skilled enough and strong enough to handle congestion but not necessarily the greatest up and back runners. If players can rotate more they can put on more size and muscle. Yes that makes them better tacklers but IMO it makes them even better tackle breakers. Encourage midfields to carry more skilled big strong bodies and you will get more tackles broken and see more break away play.

Forget trying to end congestion, never going to happen, can't be done. Focus on allowing teams to better handle congestion by allowing them to be taller down the line and able to play bigger stronger genuine footballer types who can break tackles and handle the footy cleanly rather than lighter more athletic types who aren't as good in these areas.

The other option is to encourage the zone to press hard at both ends. I'm not sure the new kick out rule has not cause more congestion up forward. If you can't effectively zone hard at the end the player is kicking out then don't worry about it, zone hard at the other end and get the turnover back there. Set the kickout rules back the way it was, see if we can't bring the players at the back of the zone a little closer.

Positional football will never happen again. There are always going to be lots of players around the footy and we need to accept that and get used to that. Not every game is going to be good watching and that has always been the case. Rather than fighting congestion by trying to directly open the game up, we need to fight it by allowing teams to play the sorts of players who can handle those sorts of conditions and combat those sorts of tactics well and forcing teams to create a team of super runners is having the opposite effect. The measures the AFL are taking with reduced rotations and trying to make players tired will have the opposite effect. Teams wont give in and stop running up and back and zoning, they will just train to be running athletes and select their players differently and play more running athletes who can tackle rather than play genuine footballers who have skills and smarts.

If you want to see good plays, good skills and all the aesthetic aspects of the game then fix the fact it's purely a running game and make it a game of strength and skills. Clean hands, break tackles and kick long to good effect the you still have congestion but you have players who can handle it and you get good footy, that's right, you can have congestion and good footy. You will never have no congestion and teams kicking 120+ points all the time, that was too far the other way but you will have good tough footy with all the skills on display, a little more scoring and a great contest. Just fix the running requirement the AFL has created and the balance will be back.
 

eastfreo75

Brownlow Medallist
Feb 11, 2011
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Simple solutions.
1. 16 a side
2. Umpires throw up the straight away like the 80’s and don’t wait for the rucks. Sure the tall dinosaurs will become extinct but the game would flow. Only 1% of the male population is over 6’6.
3. Same out of bounds rule as the women’s comp.
4. Any holding of a player on the mark is 50.
 

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