HPN on ABC – The Art of the Stoppage

This week on the ABC HPN takes a look at the art of the stoppage, and how Collingwood are using them in 2020.

The piece delves into different ways teams set up and players gain meaningful possession. There’s so many varied options on the table, and so few that are discussed as a common part of the footballing discourse.

Take this set up in the Dogs-Dons game.

Here, the Dons set up deeper, on the outside and goalside behind the contest.

However, getting players in motion forward, like the Dogs pull off, can create an attacking opportunity. There’s nothing particularly fancy here, just a fair gamble by both sides about what is likely to happen (the Dogs controlling the tap) and a failure by the Dons to effectively corral.

The off ball screen

The piece also looked at the use of the block to create space at stoppages – the skill of getting players free to have a run at the ball.

In its nature it is extremely similar to an off ball screen in basketball – like a pick and pop.

In this play, Anthony Davis sets a screen on Jordan Clarkson from the Jazz to give Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a downhill run at the hoop. Rudy Gobert, one of the best defenders in the NBA, stands in KCP’s way but the headstart and momentum given to Caldwell-Pope after coming off the screen makes him very hard to stop.

In the same way, AFL teams try to force mismatches and slight gaps to open up spaces for dangerous players to operate. However, in footy there’s a lot more leeway with how blocks are seen by the whistleblowers.

Kennedy actively grabs Anderson here – something that is right on the borderline of legal behaviour considering the ball isn’t even in play yet.

For all the talk about holding and grabbing being defensive in nature, it allows some of the stars of the game the space to get away.

Nat Fyfe, for example, doesn’t hesitate to use his size advantage over almost all midfielders to get to the ball first.

After viewing a large number of Fyfe’s work around stoppages in the last week, he goes to these types of pushes, nudges and holds a lot to grab space. This isn’t a plea for umpiring attention – more of an acknowledgement of how the game is realistically played.

Against Brisbane this year, a similar move by Fyfe on Neale was called an act of “tagging”. It’s not, and as can be clearly seen above it is more attacking in nature than defensive.

There’s even more nuance here to explore, and thankfully a lot of good people on twitter who look at this stuff on a weekly basis.

That list isn’t exhaustive, and HPN will try to add to it in coming weeks.

Like the Nick Haynes article from a couple of weeks ago, our advice is to look at parts of the screen that aren’t the middle, and if you are lucky enough to watch real footy this year, regularly look away from the ball to see what may happen next.

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