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Roles Can Be Difficult To Observe

by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Apart from specific match-ups on defense that require certain roles (being tall and fast, or short and quick), there are lots of roles in zone defenses and in some offensive sets. The best example I can think of is the marker on a trap-side zone defense. This is the position that anchors the zone when it is within 5 yards of the sideline, and can make or break the scheme. This person has the opportunity to take away more options that any other defensive player on the field. As the mark applies more pressure, there is a cascade behind them that allows the defense to take away other opportunities. For example, if the mark is able to remove cross-field hammers, the far-side defender(s) can play more to the middle of the field, allowing the players in the middle of the field to push closer to the open side threats. 

Should players train to be more versatile? I don't think there is an absolute answer here. In a vacuum of information I would argue that as a player looking to make a team, you should invest in improving at all aspects of the game. Simply put; offensive lines still need to play defense, and defensive lines need to score after they get a turn in order to be successful. The world's best thrower would be hard pressed to make the roster of an elite team if they couldn't play decent match-up defense. You can argue that offensive lines don't need to be great at defense, especially if they don't turn the disc over, but you'd have to seriously question the wisdom of a defensive line with seven people unable to throw the disc. 

If you are a player trying to make it onto a team that generally lacks a skill, or you are in charge of recruiting for a team that lacks a certain skill, by all means, train or recruit to address that weakness. As a team this means figuring out, before you pick your team, how you want to play the game. As a player this means trying to figure out, or asking the team leaders, what the team needs in a player. 

Regarding important roles, I don't really know if any trends will emerge. However, I think there is a real opportunity for teams to improve by recruiting or training players to be smarter about their decisions, and to recognize opportunities earlier. There are some pretty significant hurdles to training athletes to make better decisions, but it is even harder to recruit smart players. For example, teaching the concept of creating space for a teammate to take advantage of is a fundamentally good thing. However, it is very hard to teach, is rarely recognized on a team as being important, and even more rarely rewarded when a teams is picking their roster. 

I think the newly instituted roster limits gives increased hope for all-around players, especially if the limit drops much further. With fewer spots on the roster, the argument for filling those spots with players that are proficient at both offense and defense becomes stronger. In an extreme example, if the roster limit was 14 and your roster was evenly split between defensive and offensive specialists, you'd be pretty hosed if somebody got hurt, or was off their game that day. A roster with a couple people that could fit into any hole would be more desirable.

huddle Issue 15 Roles Players

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009
Roles Can Be Difficult To Observe
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Build From Versatile, Athletic Players
by Lindsey Hack

Needs Of The Team And The Individual
by Greg Husak

Use All Of Your Players
by Peri Kurshan

Roles From Necessity
by Kirk Savage

What Is A Role Player?
by Charlie Reznikoff

Using The Best Part Of Each Player
by Miranda Roth

Is There Any Hope For The Specialist?
by Seth Wiggins




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