These thoughts are to help and inspire people like you and me to reach higher and strive for greater things, to stand for a cause more noble than self serving, seeing the good in others and seeking it for their sake. I unashamedly weave my faith, biblical insight and life experiences into a sporting context to illustrate my personal journey to this point - I hope in a small way, I can help you on your journey to being all you were intended to be....

There are now over 50 posts to check out, tweet, link to facebook or google+ Please feel free to share a link BUT If you use any of the illustrations please acknowledge the source as Phil Manchester, Bradford, England. You can follow me on twitter @philmanchester

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Tactical Offload

Tactical decisions often require players and coaches to read and respond to situations very quickly.  
However, far from being snap decisions made on the run, a player with spatial awareness, an understanding of the game and the speed of thought that comes from practising skills, plus game experience, can intuitively make a decision to:

* pass the ball cleanly
* take the ball into contact and go to ground or
* take the contact and offload the ball

Training your mind is as important as training your body.

Each option has tactical advantages and can be deployed by any player on the field. A clean pass in open play, can set the ball on its way to a try scoring opportunity. Taking the ball into contact and going to ground, takes in defenders, allows regrouping and a new phase of play to be started. Here, the ball carrier knows his team will form around him to protect the ball.

The offload is a riskier call, but can be just as effective as a pass or going to ground. The difference between a pass and an offload, is clear: the ball carrying player knowingly commits to contact, taking the defender out of play, but at the right time, releases the ball to maintain the momentum of a move. Very often, the offload is executed at close quarters and in less structured, broken play.

Tactically you are consciously committing to contact for the sake of the bigger picture, knowing another player can be released to continue progress.

Sometimes life calls on us to commit to the contact. We know that by absorbing impact, we can release others to progress. As parents, we often shield our families from contact, knowing that they can make progress, faster and further if we absorb impacts.

On closer examination, there is a big difference between the offload and simply offloading. If, as adults, we unwisely dump every heartache, every economic pressure, every fear onto our families, we would effectively be throwing them what is euphemistically called a "hospital" pass - a wayward slinging of the ball, leaving them wide open to being hit hard.

Tactical parenting, friendship, guardianship and in business, taking the contact to ensure a safe offload to the team, is, as on the field of play, a leadership characteristic. The battles "we" fight and win, do not have to be re-fought by those following us - they will have enough of their own. But the ground we have taken, as in game time, allows them to move on.

The bible notes the comments of the great thinker, communicator and mentor, Paul (the Apostle) to his young friend and follower Timothy: "I have fought the fight, I have run the race, I have completed the course". Paul had taken the impact and fought battles that Timothy had no need to refight and was releasing the ball, having drawn the opposition, leaving a clearer route forward.

We can go to ground and wait for the back up. We could make a clean pass if there is an opening. We could draw the opposition, take the impact and offload to keep the momentum flowing. The offload requires clear thinking, a sense of timing and having someone following you at close quarters. Are we prepared to commit to the contact that releases others?