11 Nov 2011

Where did it all go wrong?

Before putting this blog entry together, I gave serious thought to the content but after what happened a well known intercounty footballer recently [Kevin Cass], I have given all the people mentioned in this blog entry aliases. I don't want to 'cross the line' and get removed from the panel.

It's half time in Celtic Park, it’s championship quarter final day and the dressing room resembles a war zone. 

The physio is treating Tony the midfielder on the bench. He suffered a back injury in the last kick-out of the half. On the other side, the team doctor tries to stop the blood pouring from Paddy, the centre back’s busted nose. Two players are blaming the referee, the man who struck Paddy should have been sent off.

In the shower area, Joe, the kitman brings out a fresh set of jerseys for the second half, the first set soaked from the deluge of rain. Once the juice, jaffa cakes and water have been distributed team manager Liam gathers his thoughts. How has his team ended up two points in arrears after dominating the midfield exchanges?

The scoreboard reads 0-7 to 0-5. Does he take off the two corner forwards? Does he play two men up front on their own to create more space? Are the corner backs not up to scratch? Half time doesn't last long and soon there will be a knock on the door, failure to be out on time will result in a fine. When the last two players return from the toilet, the manager addresses the troops.

It's time to find out exactly where the game is being lost. One of the management team takes out his iPhone. During the first half he has been keeping stats using Dartfish Easytag (see screenshot). They are winning at midfield and the forwards have only registered one wide. 

The problem is simple. Too much possession being lost, including 7 misplaced fist passes, elementary errors. For the second half Liam urges his team to get back to basics. We can’t have another series of failed attacks in the second half.

We have a strong midfield, a 'keeper with a great kick-out and a dangerous full forward line. We need to eradicate the simple mistakes and get the ball forward early. It is also stressed that the forwards need to keep making the runs to create space.

So within the space of 10 minutes a set of agitated players are now totally clear of what is required. This is the power of some structured feedback. A mindless ranting session at halftime can be replaced with a simple structured set of instructions for the second half. 

It doesn't need to be information overload as players are knackered and only take in limited information discussed during the interval.

From the screenshot, you can see quite a range of items. The person taking the stats, depending on how much practice they have had, can record quite a bit of information. However, remember no matter how many stats you take account of, the key is picking out the key ones to get across to the players.

As the players trot out for the second half they need to be totally clear of the plan for the second half. Championship games need players with a calm head, there is an increased chance of better decision making when the game is in the melting pot. Then at Tuesday night's session the information can be reinforced, giving the players a target for the next round.

Liam’s team will face the parish rivals in the semi final, whom they have not beaten in the last four meetings. This is definitely a half time period that will need calm heads and clear instruction.

Have you any experience of team feedback at half time? Let us know via the Comment Section below.

Follow is on @MidUlsterSport

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