Zone breaking rules

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gbatman

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I've been thinking about what rules should we change for 2022 to help teams attack in zoned football. I think we need to support play that helps teams play through zones. One of those is clearing the ball cleanly from stoppages and the other is creating run and carry. Ball movement is another factor that helps teams play good attacking footy and I think some of the new rules that came in last year have helped with that however they aren't the be all and end all. I also think that helping teams keep a desired forward structure will also aid in scoring. Less resting players who can only half play forward and allowing teams to keep their forward structure the whole game will help there.

Here are three changes that would help offensive play just a little bit and help teams break through zone defences. Just wondering what people's thoughts are and if they have other suggestions?


The bounce
You have to take a bounce every 15 meters. I'm torn between this one as it's an iconic part of the game but the reason for it is obsolete and it restricts teams ability to attack and create zone breaking play. As a former quick player (at a low enough level), I would get myself into positions to have a bounce often however I would chose to dispose of the ball rather than run further. This is not because I found bouncing the ball difficult, far from it, it's because I found that looking away then back up for that brief moment made it harder to find a target. The time it took to reassess space, the opposition and my team mates was often too short and it effected my disposal so bouncing and attempting to run further wasn't worth it. In AFL there is far less time and space, I am sure many players feel the same, it's better to get rid of it than to have a bounce and take the opposition on and carry it further.

The bounce was for a time when players stuck to their positions and there was a lot more space and opportunities for quick players to go on really long runs. The game has changed a lot since someone decided players should have to bounce the ball every 15 meters. The reason for the bounce is long gone, the game has evolved well beyond the reason why we bounce the ball in our game.

So what would getting rid of the bounce mean and why would it be beneficial? It would encourage players to try and carry the ball further and to take on the opposition more. It would also help players who have gone on a run to find and hit targets as they can focus on their disposal rather than lose focus bouncing. The other thing is it would encourage zone breaking play. I have found and you will see the same in the AFL that if a player can carry the ball they most often find a team mate in space. It breaks up the zone, it causes defenders to panic and it really helps opposition teams to attack effectively through congestion.


The ruck
I was watching some black and white footage of footy in the 60s. Around the ground stoppages, the umpires just came in and balled it up straight away. Now the umpires come in, wait for ages for the two rucks to nominate and that they are clear behind then eventually ball it up. The time between blowing the whistle and balling it up is far too long, it allows the teams to organise their defence and get numbers to the stoppage, it's making stoppages more defensive and congested.

Get rid of nominated ruckmen, allow a third man up and just throw it up quickly before the teams have setup their defensive structure. Pay a free kick if players make contact with the umpire, it's not hard to stay clear of the umpires back. Create a bit of chaos and defensive holes at stoppages by balling it up quickly to let teams get away from stoppages easier. Stoppages aren't an issue IMO, repeat stoppages are.

The other thing was that the third man up was good for the game. It meant the ball was hit further away from the stoppage which meant that it was taken away from the congestion. It also took more players out of the ground level contest. It actually opened things up there.

The ball up is in our game to resolve a dispute in play, it's not there as a break or to hold up play and that has been lost. Throw it up immediately and let the players sort it out.


5 on the bench
I don't know if it would make much difference but I feel it would help teams play a taller forward line. Having tall players to kick long to is often a way teams get the ball to the back of the zone quickly which opens the game up. A lot of sides will pick the bench with two spare mids a spare forward and a spare back and finding an extra spot for the second ruckman or playing two tall forward if one is not that athletic can be hard in a game that requires so much running, speed and forward pressure. I think a lot of sides would use that 5th spot for their second ruckman which would allow them to stay tall forward of the ball. I think we would see setups with a genuine full forward, centre half forward and second ruckman and this would help teams keep their tall forwards at home and not have to throw them into the ruck from time to time and to be able to play bigger less athletic guys.

This would encourage teams to kick long at times when they can't get through the zone in other ways and this would help more successful attacking plays.

We may see less ruckmen resting forward but is that a bad thing seeing most can't play forward?

It might even change the third tall forward role towards being someone who can genuinely play forward from someone who can play forward and ruck a bit which would be good for the scoring aspect of the game. A third tall forward who stays at home and is a genuine forward.

Keeping all the forwards as genuine forwards and keeping forward structure surely helps teams stay more dangerous and score more goals.
 
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RUNVS

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I would simply move the game to 15 or 16 a side. Fewer players on the field means harder to defend and more room to attack. It is also the easiest rule to implement in terms of umpiring.
 

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gbatman

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I would simply move the game to 15 or 16 a side. Fewer players on the field means harder to defend and more room to attack. It is also the easiest rule to implement in terms of umpiring.
That's true, but I feel it would look too much like AFLX. It would be too quick and too open, not much of a contest and possibly too high scoring and worst of all it would look easy. I couldn't stand AFLX for this reason as a spectator sport.

IMO football is at it's best when the balance between defence and attack is there and the contest is really good. I feel taking players off the field may upset that balance too much in the wrong direction however without trying it who is to say.

I love the defensive aspects of the game as well and I don't want to lose that, the ability to defend strongly should always be there. There is just a thought that the balance between defence and attack is out of balance and balancing that up would be good.

After all some of the most popular world sports are often defensively orientated sports such as Soccer, Rugby, American Football etc and that's not a bad thing. I see AFL at it's best as being neither a defensive game nor an attacking game but in the last 15 years it has probably become more a defensive game.

Hard to say how that would affect the game, I would be worries it may affect it too much.
 

stmookeyj

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I would simply move the game to 15 or 16 a side. Fewer players on the field means harder to defend and more room to attack. It is also the easiest rule to implement in terms of umpiring.
Unfortunately teams will just take out 2 tall players, knowing that you need guys to cover even more ground (and at the expense of skill level with more emphasis on the movement side of things). AFLW is proving this. When a "bail out" kick to the boundary is needed there's nobody available with the emphasis on defence (which again will only be increased with this proposal) leading to either slow play (giving time for the zone to be set up, they'll just have the players at the front of the zone conceding the short kick to the boundary and deny the corridor and/or switch) and/or a long dump kick down the line, stoppage, flood the stoppage.

And believe me when I say 16 a side is arguably harder to umpire than 18 a side. The main rules remain the same regardless of how many are on the park.
 

Pessimistic

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Award 3 or 4 points for a kicked point which hits a goal or is on the full inside either point post. Rushed touched etc still 1 point

encourages players to take a kick over the defensive zone, which will decompress it

not traditional? We are told scoring is based on cricket. We have a 6 and a 1, but we don’t have a 4
 

gbatman

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I think we need to focus on creating plays that break zones open and spread the field.

I think some of the newer rules have done that, stand rule created a little more run and carry. kick out rule has created some more run and carry. I think no need to touch/bounce would create a little more again.

Long kicking is another that tends to break zoned play up, get the ball to the back of the zone and forward of that is space. So we need to encourage teams to play more talls. I feel that restricting bench rotations have made the game more about athletes which a lot of tall marking players are not however with teams having success with big key forwards recently there is still a push to have tall forwards. I think teams need to be encouraged to play talls so that we can kick long.

Plenty of ideas floating around.
 

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