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Give Specific Calls To Your D

by Adam Goff

Rich "Farmer" Hollingsworth once said that when a team is on offense, seven people is too many (a crowd), but when a team is on defense, seven isn't enough. Communication is the extra player, and it's the key to successful team defense. For team defense, I don't think that there is a more important skill or a more simple one. It's also hard to develop and I have always found it to be really difficult to teach. It's especially difficult for players who are either new on a team or just on the cusp of becoming elite. 

Probably every team at some point when in a huddle has talked about the importance of talking on the field, the importance of the players not on the field being 'part of the game' and about different things to say during the game. The cliché statements often don't work. There are only two things I have found that work, and even then I can't promise success. 

The first is be specific in what you expect to be said. Telling people to talk without telling them what to say doesn't work. As an example, think about the offensive calls that your team has. If there's a turnover, as the handler is picking it up, teams will often make a play called that defines what most of the players on the field do. "Yellow thirty-seven five puppy" On defense, you'll only hear part of it. "Force flick." It's a start. But, if you add more specific things to say, then even the most reticent player will probably use it. "Strike" probably sounds familiar, and most people know that this means to stop the throw up the force side (usually on the line) for a second. Define terms for your team to use that have very specific meaning. Next, define what the person who hears the call is supposed to do. "On a strike call, the mark goes flat for 2 counts." Now you're playing team defense. "Switch" is another call that you've heard. It's meaning is pretty obvious—but even these 'obvious' calls should be clarified. "If you are last in the stack, and a player calls switch, you do it. Period." 

Two quick asides: (1) I don't want this to discourage players from saying anything. Any piece of information is useful, so you can't only focus on specific calls. I watched a player turn and get a D last weekend because one of his teammates got beat and communicated that he had been beat. What did the player yell? "Oh s***!" It worked. (2) The things that you say don't have to be too complicated or secret. It's more important that your team understands what it needs to do than it is for you to hide it from your competition. 

The second thing that I've found works is to do it. You can't tell people to talk, and then stand on the sideline looking at the sub sheet between points. You can't tell people to talk on the field and then cover your person without saying anything. Leadership and example goes a long way. 

huddle Issue 13 Teaching Team Defense

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Real Time Space For Real Time Results
by Jaime Arambula

Don't Screw The Team
by VY Chow

Give Specific Calls To Your D
by Adam Goff

A Little Theory & A Lot Of Practice
by Kris Kelly

Step-By-Step Approach At Practice
by Brett Matzuka

Limit Handler Play, & The Caterpillar Drill
by Pat McCarthy

Communication & Vision
by Miranda Roth

A Quick Example: Defending The Dump
by Ben Wiggins




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