Training at Tullamarine in mild conditions.
A shorter but very upbeat session on the McCracken Oval this morning. The entire group was very vocal and enthusiastic for the match play drill shouting a mixture of instructions and encouragement and I got the impression that they were trying to make the drill as high quality as possible in the presence of the lesser coaches.
The players were divided into three groups using the entire length of the oval with two groups playing and the third group resting before being rotated in, This meant that the drill was conducted with about twenty players on the field leaving plenty of space for running and ball movement.
The emphasis was on three main skills.
Good decisions on the turn to keep the ball moving.
You probably have a fair idea what these mean but the team in the practice matches so far has only shown a limited amount of overlap where players running from behind the player with the ball make themselves available for a handpass while on the move to break up play and move the ball quickly. Richmond on the other hand did this much better in the Punt Rd match. In fairness to Knights I think this skill was an important part of his attacking game plan.
Good teams like Geelong and Hawthorn play on quickly whenever possible rather than trotting back behind the mark to take a kick which gives the defenders time to gather. Thus if you can wheel quickly after a mark and make good decisions on the turn you will move the ball more effectively. Making good decisions in turn relies on players knowing where to run too and being very vocal to call for the pass. "If your teamates are giving you good information you shouldn't have to go back on the mark."
Finishing off meant going all the way to take the shot at goal to complete the drill. Poor goal shooting in the first quarter against Port and against Richmond show that much practice is needed in this area. Thus Myers to Van Unen "Finish it off, take two bounces and kick the f...ing goal." when Van Unen failed to run right into an open goal to make certain after receiving the ball forty metres out.
Bagley made space wide in the pocket when the defenders were bringing the ball out of defence much to the approval of Craig who yelled "Now you're really starting to think when you made space."
As a third example Hardy took Thurlow aside in the forward line and explained to him not to cut across someone's space and the Goddard told Hardy to "identify space."
A good session with the players sounding enthusiastic and sharpening their skills before the first match.
The question that remains is their ability to translate good training skills into match play when they are under much more pressure and it is this issue which is the whole nub of preseason training.