It may be the faint tap of death’s door as I progress through my fourth earthly decade, but as I watch the games I love I am drawn to the movement of the ball or lack there of. Last night in Deland, Hagerty had a double figure lead midway through the fourth quarter and spread the floor. Deland went small and quick to press the ball, and Hagerty, despite winning, threatened my sanity. To a man, they would catch and hold the ball till a defender got right in their space then pivot desperately to find a pass. On virtually every occasion the player with the ball had an easy passing option while the defender was en route to pressure the ball.
On Monday, FC America played the Florida Rush in the President’s Day tournament final. FC America had played some excellent soccer over the weekend, but my hopes for the final faded with the first few passes. The ball was played to the right back with time and space. He hesitated, touched the ball twice and forced the ball down the line into traffic with open teammates in space.
Sadly for all that is right and good, Hagerty and FC America both won diminishing their urgency to improve. As coach sans team, I have neither won nor lost, and have nothing better to do than ruminate on ball movement, time and space.
The ball is the focal point of defensive pressure. Effective pressure on the ball impairs the decision-making process and the technical execution of the ball possessor by depriving him of time and space.
The ball is faster than any player.Movement of the ball changes the focal point of the defense. Rapid movement of the ball relieves pressure rendering effective ball pressure impossible, amd creating time and space.
Time and space is where mismatches, breakdowns and inattentiveness become baskets, touchdowns and goals….where the black coal of selfless, collective industry shines like individual, bloodless diamonds.