DNA OF COUNTER ATTACK
Over many years of coaching, I was fortunate to spend time at different teams, and one of the best things for any coach to do is network with other coaches and spend time in different environments. I believe you can’t copy other coaches, but you can add your own flavour to what you learnt from those coaches. Some times even your team can add something different to what you planned as a coach.
DON’T COPY - RATHER IMPROVE & ADD YOUR OWN FLAVOUR
Counterattack is typically the last thing coaches give attention to and with kicking plays and playing the percentages becoming a big process in getting the “W”, counter-attack is a vital process to add to your team. So typically the counter-attack process has a few options, but later more on the options. When thinking of counter attack it is important to understand that counter-attack opportunity not only comes from turnovers or kicks from set-pieces but can also be manufactured from a kick to counter-strategy. When a team can kick on the front foot on their own terms they can putt the defence under pressure, resulting in the opposition making a poor exit kick, allowing time for a planned counter-attack.
THE RELIEVING KICK is very important and will give the counter-attack the cues as to where to attack too. When a kick is from set-piece the forwards are generally bunched in one area of the ﬁeld and most teams kick in front of their forwards. So this is were the back three players have to make a good decision, determined by where the opposition forwards are:
COUNTER ATTACK OPTIONS
1. Move the ball to opposite sideline away from the forwards
2. Move the ball to the middle and have a go, Winger can have a go or look for switchback inside to 13.
3. Pass the ball to the 15 and if defending wing follows the pass your 15 plays back to your winger exposing the vacuum created by the wing following the ball
So generally you must be thinking what am I on about, that’s all pretty basic, but this is where the planning comes in. So with your back three having a go, using their skill sets to try to burn the opposition; what are your forwards doing?
So wherever the backs decide to go, the forwards must get into a set shape, as option runners.
The open side anker will always hunt the ball to secure continuity. With the closest backline player also being involved in the ﬁrst ruck. After this, the shape must do its job.
So generally we want to try and create a miss-match or two on the second phase if our first strike attempt doesn’t work out. In saying this we want to move the backline defenders into the wide channel away from where the set-piece took place, isolating the forwards to cover the biggest area on the pitch.
So let's have a look at two illustrations:
This is from option 1, the backs moved the ball to the wide zone forcing the opposition backs to scramble, with our forwards working into midfield we are set up to attack numerous option. If the defence gets narrow we can play behind the option runners and we should have space out wide. If the defence is spread we should look to play through the middle. Our 9 and 15 play a key role as their roles are interchangeable.
Once we attack the midﬁeld this sets up two sides to attack and in the above case we have two decoy runners on both sides of the ruck, but you can change that to suit your needs. The 10 is in behind scanning where to attack on the second phase, looking for the slower props to get exploited by either the 11 or 15 and the with some big ball carriers to finish off what’s left of the defence.
DON’T COPY BUT LOOK TO IMPROVE
So after going through all that it is going to give your team some wings (not red bull), to keep attacking wave after wave and when the attack runs out of options a good kick into the corner might give you an opportunity to readjust the opposition defence to have another go.
CUES FOR COUNTER ATTACK
Move the ball away from the forwards
Look to strike back to the tight forwards on the second phase
Narrow defence go behind option runners to space out wide
Spread defence use the forward option runners
Don’t limit players, allow them to attack the space as they see it
A well thought out kicking game can put you in good area’s off the field, but without a good counter-attack strategy, it can come to nothing. When we speak about the All Blacks it’s about their attacking game, but after 2007 they went and looked at all their processes and figured out they have to kick more and smarter, but also have a good plan to counter-attack. You hardly ever see a kiwi fullback run 5 meters and kick an up n under, they would rather look to attack, moving the defensive backs to a speciﬁc side so that they can target the weaker defenders on the next phase.
Although I don’t like to over structure everything it is very clever to have a set shape for your counter-attack and I would encourage you to plan your counter-attack and allow for decision making in that counter attack. Its always good to stretch your minds and to try something new, as long as you can explain why and the players buy into the process. I’ll post a video on my youtube channel with some footage using one of the above counter attack shapes.
I have started a new coaching consultancy and you are welcome to contact me for bookings and more info.
Andre Tredoux #Dare2Care, #Enthusiasmwins & #lovethefight