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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Strategy of Sport--Games for the Mind

My son was trying to explain to me how complicated rugby really is, as I said it just looked like very strong men pushing each other around in the mud and passing a weird football sideways. Now, son proclaims that the rules are difficult, and that those big muddy guys have to think strategically. Wow!

Now, I love cricket and am probably one of  a handful of American women who actually understand and can spot an LBW. Cricket and baseball appeal to me partly because of the statistics and the strategy. There is nothing more relaxing on a rainy afternoon at Lord's when one can sit with friends and discuss the really excellent off-spin bowlers of the past 40 years and how they have changed the game. Here is Peter Such on the subject:

When setting out to bowl off spin the first thing any bowler needs to consider is the outcome, what are you trying to achieve. 

In my mind the desired outcome was always the perfect off spin delivery.
What does the perfect off spin delivery look like? For me it has to do several things, drift away from the right handed batsman, drop in the air and spin back to hit the top of the off stump. This is not going to happen every time, but if you set out with this goal in mind you will have a far greater chance of success.
Having outlined the goal thought then needs to go into producing a consistently repeating action, one that maximises spin on the ball and gives the control required for success.
Saqlain Mushtaq

Never loose sight of the fact that you are a spin bowler not a slow bowler. You are trying to spin the ball; it just happens that your pace is slower than most other bowler’s. As a spin bowler, it is an insult to be referred to as a slow bowler. 

Spinning The Ball Hard

My first piece of advice to any spin bowler is to spin the ball as hard as possible at all times. By spinning the ball as hard as possible, it achieves the following results
Causes the ball to bite and spin off the pitch.
Gets the ball to drop in the air almost like top spin if you get your fingers over the top of the ball
Gets the ball to drift away in its flight path if you come round the side of the ball.
Now to rugby. I have seen two rugby games in person in my life and on both days the weather was atrocious. I have vague memories of drinking something warm out of a flask and having stadium blankets tucked about me and my friend.
I cannot remember noticing strategy, but here you are for some tips in case you end up watching a game. This is Tom Billups.
For example, a team receives a restart on their right hand touchline. Their strategy is to consolidate that kick, form a ruck, and execute a box kick with designated kick chasers. The best teams in the world all employ this as part of their patterns of play. In this example, there is a dozen generalized and position specific techniques that must be performed well for the tactic (box kicking the ball down field) to be successful. Although being successful at the technique level will not automatically assure the tactics will always prevail, it does provide the side with a fighting chance to achieve success in the team’s pattern of play.
When rugby is at its best, all fifteen players have a clear understanding of their team’s strategy, the tactics used to accomplish the strategy, and the techniques needed to fill the tactics. Players are encouraged to make their “in-the-moment decisions” with this overall pattern of play in mind.
When a team uses a pattern of play, with tactics and sound technique, it reminds me of one of my favorite rugby sayings: “Fifteen as One.”  
Spain vs. Rumania
I think I may have to learn some rugby sounds, happily, as complicated as cricket.