Analysis of the drawn Grand Final raises factors for coaches to consider in 2011.

Learnings from 2010

The 2010 Toyota AFL Grand Final Replay edition of the AFL Record featured an article titled 'Day One Year Zero' that analysed the drawn grand final.

The article takes a sneak peak at the factors that might interest AFL clubs in 2011 and provokes thought for coaches at community level as they look for the edge for next season.

As the article explains "many elements of a premiership team’s winning formula influence the shape of the next season".

The following is a summary of the findings from the article's analysis of the match:

The utility is a coach's dream

The performance of Brendan Goddard in the drawn grand final has highlighted the value of utilities who have the ability to play in any position on the ground.  Elite utilities offer great flexibility to a coach.

You can't underplay the importance of winning centre clearances

The Saints and the Magpies preparedness to press up as they move the ball forward aims to ensure it stays in their respective attacking halves.  Players who can win centre clearances are invaluable, as a quick clearance and surge inside 50 helps forwards trap the ball.  The centre clearance puts pressure on the opposition’s defensive structure, with players forced to fight one-on-one, without the support the third man zoning off or tracking across can provide.

The era of two specialist ruckmen might be over

The omission of Ben McEvoy from St Kilda’s team as a tactical response to Collingwood’s Darren Jolly-Leigh Brown ruck combination signalled the end of clubs playing two ruck specialists. With high interchange rotations, clubs can no longer afford to have two players in one team who each play only 50 per cent of the game. St Kilda highlighted that one impact of the structural change is that it makes experts at the third-man up tactic more important than ever.

Good teams have on-ground coaches

Team leaders need to understand the game-plan and the structures implicitly so they can instinctively make changes on the ground according to any situation that arises.  If you watch the good teams, their leaders (Lenny Hayes, Nick Maxwell) are pointing and shouting at every stoppage to ensure teammates are in space.

Pure inside-50 numbers mean little

In the drawn grand final, Collingwood dominated the inside-50 count (62-35), but it did not translate on the scoreboard.  Poor delivery inside 50 can just result in easy turnovers.  Sam Fisher was able to intercept forward entries on multiple occasions.  Similarly, bad kicking is bad football as the Pies who missed seemingly easy shots at goal would have been told.

What more can clubs do about goalkicking?

Goalkicking woes reappeared for Collingwood at the most inopportune time of the year – late in the second quarter of the grand final. Refining and all the simulation in the world can’t prepare you for game-day – wind, distance, sun, state of the ground, state of mind and the state of the game all come into play.

The importance of sports science is only increasing

It was said in the lead-up to the grand final that the fitness coaches for Collingwood and St Kilda – David Buttifant and David Misson – had roles to play every bit as important as any of the players or other coaches at their respective clubs. Ahead of the replay, they became even more critical.

Using the bounday to set up atttacks works

Of the 19 goals scored during the drawn grand final, only one came as a result of running through the centre of the ground.

The kick-to-handball ratio might get back to 'normal'

High pressure on the ball-carrier and receivers through defensive structures and team-orientated defence are eliminating the effectiveness of handballing to break the lines and sides are reverting to long kicks to drive the ball forward and gain distance.

How to react to the loose man in defence

Conventional theory would suggest there are probably three ways to react to a loose man in defence. Man them up with an attacking player who they will have to concentrate on, assign a defensive forward to quell their influence, go head-to-head and have your own loose man. All three tactics were implemented in the drawn grand final, with varying success.

Download the complete version of the Day One Year Zero article from the 2010 Toyota AFL Grand Final Replay edition of the AFL Record

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