Im getting old, midlife crisis is setting in, but it’s no worse than the identity crisis our attackers are suffering from. Lucky for them, they can fix their’s, Im just going to keep aging in denial. 🙂
There’s not much debate among midfielders that they are also attack players. Most players who volunteer for middie are driven by the desire to score more than the desire to run relentlessly back and forth, the very reason we are often 3 man down on defense as they straggle behind to get back and help.
But how many attackers know they are midfielders? Do your attackers have the 30 zone disease? You know, the one where they play like possessed awesome laxers whenever the ball passes the 30 yard line and it becomes a countdown to score, but then as soon as the ball goes back over the 30 they start napping, some even dropping the head of the stick to drag along and dig up turf pellets? Meanwhile the other team is fast breaking, still well inside the midfield with just the middies at chase, the same middies that just sprinted up the field with the ball are again outnumbered and exhausted carrying the weight of attackers that forgot they are midfielders.
And what happens to the defense while the attackers fail to redefend in the midfield? Do they drop back and leave a gaping hole in the midfield, allowing uncontested passing and transitioning? Or do they come up and join the midfielders, leaving the goalie to look left and right before realizing she is in fact, alone…again! Actually if she’s lucky she is alone, more often then not she’s not alone, there’s a lone attacker who’s been forgotten about hanging out waiting for that nice long pass and 1v1 opp with the forsaken goalie.
For attackers who have never learned to play the entire midfield, all the way to the far restraining line, especially youth players, you can introduce it slowly and methodically until it’s second nature. Consider starting by telling them they must all run out to the far restraining line anytime the ball starts going back towards the defensive end, tag the line and then back peddle, while still seeing the ball, to their area (whatever areas that you prefer they move too that spreads them out and staggers some space around) This gets them moving, and often times while they are running out there they realize the ball is nearby and they jump in and help. This must become a habit, attackers don’t need to camp out by the other teams goalie, or hang out and have a chat with their defender while leaning on their sticks, they need to move and be fierce between the restraining lines like busy bees that never quit.
Teach backside doubles, this is the ability to come from behind to help a middie who is marking the ball in order to turn that ball carrier and trap her..preferably on a sideline.. forcing a bad pass or dropped ball.
Attackers are like zombies 🙂 When the ball starts going back down to the defensive end, attackers become full fledged zombie apoloclyptic players who are after the ball. If they don’t catch up with the ball, then at least they gave the ball carrier a scare and hopefully some pressure to get rid of the ball.
Communication is key as always. Someone has to call and go help double the ball, but the others need to cut off the closest and easiest passes so that any pass made will hopefully be long and inaccurate. The message to attackers should be..don’t be the last one out into the midfield on a redefend, be the first one to double the ball, or be the first one to have to screech to a halt at the far R Line.
Drills that put a team on each restraining line, taking turns trying to get the ball across the midfield can help practice slowing a fast break. Keep a line of 4 attackers (on opposing team of ball carrier) about 10 yards behind the ball when you blow the whistle. Use 3 to 7 middies attempting to carry or pass the ball and get it across the midfield. They should feel attacked from the 3 middies coming from in front of them and by the attackers coming to get them from behind. A successful attempt at redefending will trap the ball, force a bad pass or some sort of turnover. Add in or take out as many players as you need to up to game numbers to make the drill easier or harder. For little peanuts, try us a smaller area like a 15 yard box with only 2 middies trying to move the ball, one marking in front and one coming from behind. Then add in as they are ready.
Try the zombie drill!
Set up a 7v7 in the 30 with the attack team just staying inside the critical scoring area playing keep away. Tell the players which ones are middies and which ones are attackers. When the whistle blows once, the ball is thrown to someone on the other team who then begins fast breaking back to the other end of the field while the attacking team who just lost the ball starts the redefend. The midfielders immediately mark ball and the two closest passes that are goal side or closest to goal side of the ball carrier to try and slow forward momentum. Coach blows the whistle twice when the ball passes the 30 yard line and the attackers turn into speedy zombies – complete with zombie sounds of course!, The zombies make chase from behind and attack the ball and any open passes, marking the open players closest to ball first. If the redefend turns the ball back over and the attackers are able to get the ball back into the 12 meter in their attack end, then they win the zombie apocalypse war. But.. if defense and their fast break, gets the ball all the way through the midfield and past the far restraining line, then the humans reign supreme.
Put it on a tshirt if you have too…Attackers are middies, Middies are attackers, and of course, everyone plays defense, but that’s for another post! 🙂