Outletting against a half court press?

Outletting against a half court press?

overlapping outside halves ? or drop Midfield in hole?

Hockey CoachCoach
Jon RoyceCoach, England

The first thing to appreciate is the purpose of a half court: namely when played well to allow opponents to move up field without challenge: drawing them out of defence ready to spring a counter attack. The proximity of one defender to another in a half pitch defence allows defenders to provide support to one another making it very difficult for the team in possession to find space.

If space is the critical commodity then where will we find it against a Half Court defence?

Dog Leg Pass

Let’s assume that the opposition are playing with three forwards. Space exists in-behind the wingers. To exploit this space the ball can be passed into the inside forward channel (right or left) for a player to trap and pass (or deflect) the ball to the Right or Left Back in the space behind the winger. This move is greatly enhanced if other attacking players vacate the area creating as much space as possible. From this point the advancing Right Back or Left Back should be able to exploit 2 v 1 situations.

If this proves successful the opposition will be forced to react by either dropping the winger deeper, closing the space to a minimum. Whilst sound defensively, it forces the winger very deep into a position where it’s very difficult to mount a counter attack. The defences other option is to keep the winger as high as possible "trade off" with the advancing Right/Left Back and keep the defensive Right/Left Back in the Channel (zone marking). As a Consequence, the other three defenders will be marking that means one versus one situations: if defenders can by-pass midfield and find an attacking player.

By-passing Midfield

The longer the pass the greater the degree of risk of interception but on the other hand a great opportunity to by-pass a crowded midfield zone and play direct to the forwards setting up one versus one scenarios. To achieve this goal with any degree of consistency movement in midfield to create passing lanes will be critical. The question the side in possession should be asking is "you’re playing against our midfield, are you marking or protecting a zone?" If the player is marking, then lateral (sideways) movement should open up a passing lane and the ball can be passed back to front. If the defenders hold zones and refuse to be pulled out of shape, space should exist to transfer the ball through the midfield. From a technical viewpoint, disguise of pass is a absolute pre-requisite to making this tactic work.

This problem is a challenging one to solve and asks questions regarding the organisation of the attack and mutual understanding and discipline.

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