Leading and Split Techniques

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

By Brad Green
Carlton Assistant Coach - Forward Line

When playing in any forward line, you need to give your teammates cues. In this article, I’m providing you with hints and tips on how to lead & get splits as a forward line player. 

I will define my leading principles as  “Being hard to play on” and “Recognise the dangerous space’”. Split techniques as “Duck backs”, “In behind opponents”, Pushes/Pulls, Play Dead, Screens/Crossovers.

The role of a forward has been greatly developed over the years. Leading patterns are designed to get a forward out in space or to create one on one marking contests as often as possible. 


Being hard to play on

  • Always on the move, constant movement.
  • Read Cues/Lead late, Lead quick/Signal.
  • Give & Fill space (create vacuum space) – Isolate opposition. Unselfish leading. Roll into the corridor
  • Multiple Leads. Lead to the kicker's preferred leg or direction the kicker is moving.

Recognise the ‘dangerous space’

  • Move your opponent to create dangerous space. Get your opponent moving away from the space.
  • Backleads - Off Line leads to create dangerous space.

Duck backs (Variations – Contact/No Contact/In Behind)

  • Get around your opponent's check, not go through it.
  • Change direction on opponent's outside foot.
  • Stiff arm contact.
  • React to how you are being defended.

In Behind Opponent

  • No contact. Make your opponent search for you.
  • Try to square your hips to the ball.
  • Misinformation. Force your opponent to look at the ball.


  • Get opponent's momentum moving away from dangerous space.

Play Dead

  • Body – To give opponent signals, to when you are going to lead
  • Voice – Mixed communication, to put off opponent
  • Eyes – Look at the kicker


  • Backside Leads
  • Hold the screen then lead/replace 

Players should go to other AFL games – Learn new tricks off other forwards.

‘Play Football, not Athletics’

Drills to Develop Leading and Splitting


Brad Green is the forward line coach at Carlton.

This article was written as part of the requirement for the AFL High Performance Coach Accreditation.

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