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Exercise Caution With Set Plays

About 5 years ago, I was at a practice for the men’s team I was on. We were working on a particular play. What I’ll never forget is how regimental our play practice was. Literally we were working on player movement as precisely as a few feet rather than having general lanes and letting the offensive players run their lanes based on the positioning of the defense. It felt more like a choreographed dance than a play that contained room for variety within each lane or cut.

Based on how my this team practiced, I found that our plays would break down easily, that the defense could shut them down quickly since they were run the exact same way every time with no variation and it also removed all sense of creativity and adaptability in the offense.

I think it’s crucial to have a system that your team uses, based on the players you have and on a variety of approaches – running a play from the sidelines, from the middle of the field, from short/long, from isolating one or two players, dependent on the weather, dependent on the defense that is set up, etc.

However, I would strongly urge coaches and captains to not be so tied to the plays that you end up jeopardizing the free flow movement that is ultimate and which will take you away from the core principle of moving to and throwing to space.

Another example comes from a conversation I had with a  captain of a college team in Texas recently and he told me that his team had this issue last year. They had a cutting system which they taught to all of their rookies, and it ended up not giving them the opportunities to learn awareness and proper vision. Quite often, rather than taking the time to teach new players how to throw and catch and move into space, we thrust them into a scrimmage or game without having taught them the basic fundamentals and it’s too much too fast.

What do you find helpful when it comes to designing plays and putting them into practice/games? Share what you’re learned so you can help other captains and coaches having this same issue!

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