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Game plans, tactics and all that jazz


binman

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2 hours ago, binman said:

Okley dokley. I have some hot takes on elements of our game plan and our plan/program this season. A hypothesis, if you will. 

I have been trying to work out how best to articulate my thoughts in a digestible way. My idea was to break it into elements/topics, and post about each element separately, with this post as context to help clarify what underpins my conclusions.

I’m not sure this methodology achieves that aim, and as is my wont is too long, but there you go.

The elements/topics I want to cover are:

  • How I see the arc of the season 
  • The dees 2023 game plan 
  • The game plan of the other contenders
  • The fitness program
  • Specific elements of the game plan – eg stoppages, clearances, transition, forward entry etc
  • Issues – eg ground ball inside 50, medium defender, tall forwards

I figure the halfway point of the year is a good time for this hypothesis as there is more than sufficient data points to make some conclusions. 

I say hypothesis because I want to make clear this is my own assessment and I don’t want to have clog the post up with my usual caveats – I reckon and i think. 

My hypothesis is informed by:

  • comments from Goody, the players and coaches
  • comments from other clubs coaches, in particular Hardwick, Scott brothers and Mitchell
  • some really terrific content and analysis by many Demonland posters
  • comments by George and Andy on the podcast
  • various bits of publically available data 
  • my analysis of the last few seasons 
  • my sense of where football is at the moment tactically etc
  • my own musings
  • the vibe

And of course another input is the opinions, ideas and thoughts of footy media people, in particular (in order of how much stock I put in them):

  • Brendan Sanderson, 
  • Daniel Hoyne from champion data
  • Jobe Watson (who is god awful commentator because he struggles to enunciate, but I actually find often makes some really insightful comments)
  • Brad Johnson
  • Montagna 
  • Gerard Healy 
  • Buckley (who frustrates me a bit because he seems to mix genuine insight with some whacko stuff)
  • David King (see comment about Buckley)

My hypothesis is based on, and informed by, a number of assumptions and personal beliefs, including:

  • Fitness has always been an important factor in the VFL/AFL, but is now one of the 3 most significant determinants of the likelihood of winning a flag (the other two being quality of the list - and where it is at from a demographic perspective and luck with injury. I have coaching next. And it goes without saying clubs need to be well governed etc)
  • The model Damien Hardwick introduced at the tigers that proved so successful has changed footy and is now the template and starting point for all teams (though I think Mitchell is trying something genuinely new) 
  • Goodwin has based his game plan on that core elements of the tiger template – defence first, pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure, contested ball, territory, run in waves, overlap scoring from turnover, intercept marking down back, rebound and transition from the back, heavy emphasis on role, heavy emphasis on system and forward half footy
  • The Pies, given the fact they haven’t won a flag, have had an outside influence in terms of influencing other  team’s game plan – in particular their speed of ball movement from the back half and their preparedness to change lanes and take risks with their kicks 
  • But the Pies model is actually still undefined by the Tigers template and isn’t nearly as different and/or new as the footy media would have people believe
  • That said, the Pies game plan has absolutely led to us  making some pretty big changes to our game plan and method
  • Analytics is playing a huge role in footy now – and the pies method is very much informed by analytics (for example I suspect analytics show that with the right mitigating strategies higher risk kicks result in a net higher score ie taking into account scores from turnovers)
  • Coaches are on different points on the risk – reward, offence versus defence scales  
  • It is incredibly difficult to win a flag – so much has to go right, and so few things need to go wrong to make a flag impossible 
  • Clubs look to the previous year’s flag winner and incorporate elements of what contribute to their success 
  • Each individual home and away game is not litmus test on the dees chances of winning a flag and way, way too much emphasis is put on the outcomes of individual matches 
  • It is possible to think the dees will win the flag this year AND that in all probability they won’t


 

Hypothesis one: the arc of the season

  • The season is an act in four parts for teams who are genuine flag contenders.
  • Act one is the preseason, in particular January and February, through to round 11 or 12. 
  • Act two is rounds 11-12, through the bye and up to aprox round 15 
  • Act three is round 15 to the end of the home and way season
  • Act four is finals 
  • Everything has to go right in all four acts to win a flag

Act one 

The training block in Jan and February is perhaps the most important element of the whole season, and certainly act one of the season. 

During this phase they basically put down their fitness foundation for the whole season. Get it wrong and the season is toast. Burgess has been incredibly influential in this space. 

Critical is not having players miss any sessions, as far is possible, because there is no do over and players never get to optimal fitness if they don't get this base down. Luck plays a part because to do the work and not miss sessions players have to be injury free.

We came into that corresponding period last year with a number of players still carrying niggles etc from the 2021 season (which finished very late for us – and the dogs, who never got going at all in 2022).

I knew Carlton would struggle this season because they had heaps of players who mised mutiple sessions, including their best mid in Walsh, with injury or recovering from surgery. They started the season well behind the 8 ball and have played catch up since. They are toast. 

By all accounts we had excellent Jan and Feb, with almost all players completing every session, with the notable exception of salo who was impacted near the end of that block with the thyroid stuff. This gives me great confidence about our chances of going all the way this year. 

The teams that have got it right in Jan and Feb will be at optimal fitness in round one (unless they have deliberately pushed that window forward, which I suspect the Cats may have). And we were. 

This is key because our game plan, like that of the Pies, Cats and to lesser extent, Lions (the contenders) is completely dependent on being at optimal fitness levels.  

And as such the first 4-5 games are the ones to look at to assess our game plan and method (and of the other contenders). If we get things right and enter the finals close to cherry ripe condition our game plan and method, save some tactical and structural tweaks, will look much the same as the first 4-5 games (noting Goody has said a few times this season we are experimenting with different things).

As part one of the season progresses, what Selwyn Griffiths call accumulative fatigue increasingly kicks in and our performance suffers – in large part because as noted, to work optimally our game plan requires optimal fitness. 

But the other factor is fatigue will impact players differently. 

Logic suggests younger players will be impacted more by fatigue than more seasoned players. And we have seen that with the drop off in performance in the last couple of weeks of Kossi, Bowey, Mcvee, Rivers, Chandler, Spargo and JVR.

Given three of those players are defenders, I wonder whether that is a factor in our struggles winning ground ball in D50 – Salem being out for all but 2 games has to be a factor too. 

Seven young players who are really struggling with fatigue is nearly a third of the starting 22, which also helps explains our subpar performances in the last two games. 

I also think we are impacted by fatigue more than the other contenders because we have too many poor kicks and fatigue exacerbates poor tehnique. Again, we have seen that in the last two games with heaps of turnovers and missed shots at goal (we had ONE effective kick inside 50 in the second q against Freo!) 

And of course it is not just Melbourne’s performance that drops off at this point in the season.  One only needs to look at the quality of the matches in the last 2 weeks to see that.

Even more stark were the results last round – four top 8 sides were beaten by teams outside of the top eight.

And the Lions got rolled by the Crows (who were just inside the 8) and looked rubbish (‘they don’t look on’ according to the commentary).

The Pies gave up 6 last quarter goals to the lowly Roos to only beat them by 35 points – no way that happens in the first third of the season.  

Selwyn Griffiths said on the DL interview that in season the games only provide 70% of the contribution to maintaining aerobic levels and between games it is not really possible to build it.  

So, as the season progresses players are fatigued (mentally and physically as Selwyn noted) AND their aerobic capacity drops. And of course then, so does our performance. 

Which is one reason why it is of little value to look at the last 2 games, or tonight’s game for that matter, as some sort of gauge or litmus test of our chances of one, beating the other contenders, or two winning the flag.

Or for that matter to put much stock in any key metrics and/or stats in this period.  For me these games feel like old school games in the 80s and 90s.  

That doesn’t mean these games aren’t important of course.

Losing the last 2 means tonight becomes critical because if we lose tonight making top 4 will be that much harder.

And there is a psychological element. Pushing past fatigue and getting the win is what the best teams do. I’m not saying Port are one of the best teams, but they were very average against the Tigers, who really should have won that game. But Port won and I have to say I was really impressed they did.

Edited by binman
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7 minutes ago, binman said:

Hypothesis one: the arc of the season

  • The season is an act in four parts for teams who are genuine flag contenders.
  • Act one is the preseason, in particular January and February, through to round 11 or 12. 
  • Act two is rounds 11-12, through the bye and up to aprox round 15 
  • Act three is round 15 to the end of the home and way season
  • Act four is finals 
  • Everything has to go right in all four acts to win a flag

Act one 

The training block in Jan and February is perhaps the most important element of the whole season, and certainly act one of the season. 

During this phase they basically put down their fitness foundation for the whole season. Get it wrong and the season is toast. Burgess has been incredibly influential in this space. 

Critical is not having players miss any sessions, as far is possible, because there is no do over and players never get to optimal fitness. Luck plays a part because to do the work and not miss sessions players have to be injury free.

We came into that corresponding period last year with a number of players still carrying niggles etc from the 2021 season (which finished very late for us – and the dogs, who never got going at all in 2022).

I knew Carlton would struggle this season because they had heaps of players who mised mutiple sessions, including their best mid in Walsh, with injury or recovering from surgery. They started the season well behind the 8 ball and have played catch up since. They are toast. 

By all accounts we had excellent Jan and Feb, with almost all players, with the notable exception of salo who was impacted near the end of that block with the thyroid stuff. This gives me great confidence about our chances of going all the way this year. 

The teams that have got it right in Jan and Feb will be at optimal fitness in round one (unless they have deliberately pushed that window forward, which I suspect the Cats may have).  And we were. 

This is key because our game plan, like that of the Pies, Cats and to lesser extent, Lions (the contenders) is completely dependent on being at optimal fitness levels.  

And as such the first 4-5 games are the ones to look at to assess our game plan and method. If we get things right and enter the finals close to cherry ripe condition our game plan and method, save some tactical and structural tweaks, will look much the same as the first 4-5 games (noting Goody has said a few times this season we are experimenting with different things).

As part one of the season progresses, what Selwyn Griffiths call accumulative fatigue increasingly kicks in and our performances suffer – in large part because as noted, to work optimally our game plan requires optimal fitness. 
But the other factor is fatigue will impact players differently. 

Logic suggests younger players will be impacted more by fatigue than more seasoned players. And we have seen that with the drop off in performance in the last couple of weeks of Kossi, Bowey, Mcvee, Rivers, Chandler, Spargo and JVR.

Given three of those players are defenders, I wonder whether that is a factor in our struggles winning ground ball in D50 – Salem being out for all but 2 games has to be a factor too. 

Seven players who are struggling with fatigue is nearly a third of the starting 22, which also helps explains our subpar performances in the last two games. 

I also think we are impacted by fatigue more than the other contenders because we have too many poor kicks and fatigue exacerbates poor tehnique. Again, we have seen that in the last two games with heaps of turnovers and missed shots at goal (we had ONE effective kick inside 50 in the second q against Freo!) 

And of course it is not just Melbourne’s performance that drops off at this point in the season.  One only needs to look at the quality of the matches in the last 2 weeks to see that.

Even more stark were the results last round – four top 8 sides being beaten by teams outside of the 8. And the Lions got rolled by the Crows (who were just inside the 8) and looked rubbish (‘they don’t look on’ according to the commentary).

And the Pies gave up 6 last quarter goals to the lowly Roos to only beat them by 35 points – no way that happens in the first third of the season.  

Selwyn Griffiths said on the DL interview that in season the games only provide 70% of the capacity to maintain aerobic levels and between games it is not really possible to build it.  

So, as the season progresses players are fatigued (mentally and physically as Selwyn noted) AND their aerobic capacity drops. And of course, so does our performance. 

Which is one reason why it is of little value to look at the last 2 games, or tonight’s game for that matter, as some sort of gauge or litmus test of our chances of one, beating the other contenders, or two winning the flag.

Or for that matter to put much stock in any key metrics and/or stats in this period.  For me these games feel like old school games in the 80s and 90s.  

That doesn’t mean these games aren’t important of course.

Losing the last 2 means tonight becomes critical because if we lose tonight making top 4 will be that much harder.

And there is a psychological element. Pushing past fatigue and getting the win is what the best teams do. I’m not saying Port are one of the best teams, but they were very average against the Tigers, who really should have won that game. But Port won and I have to say I was really impressed they did.

Your thoughts around this time of season are always worth reading Binman. I recall on the pod last year you were saying the same thing in regards to loading and to look at the other good teams around that time who were playing some real garbage games, often against each other.

Bring on Act 2..

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24 minutes ago, layzie said:

Your thoughts around this time of season are always worth reading Binman. I recall on the pod last year you were saying the same thing in regards to loading and to look at the other good teams around that time who were playing some real garbage games, often against each other.

Bring on Act 2..

Don't mention the war....

 

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Really good posting, binman, and it’s also great to see this thread back on track after a little diversion. I’m looking forward to the remainder of your hypotheses!

 

Talking to someone last night, and thinking back on a bit of history, it seems to me that one of the huge factors in 2021, was the fact that we did the hub life much better than any other team. And that contributed to the absolute team commitment and joint purpose that we had. That was, of course, really damaged at Entrecôte  restaurant. And I’m starting to hear that there are other issues – minor ones, but issues nevertheless – around the club. Apart from anything else, our captain is running two wine bars, there are other players with other similar interests, other social matters, and I just wonder if a lot of the cohesion has been lost. The trouble is, I don’t know how we get it back again. (If WCW is reading this thread, I am sure she would have some pretty good insights as to whether I’m right about this, and I would love to hear them.)

 

Perhaps one way to get cohesion back would be to have a couple of cracking wins against good teams e.g. Carlton, and then Collingwood. That might really help. On the other hand, it is a real problem that once again, we really don’t get a bye, which would’ve been an opportunity for, perhaps, the whole team to get away for a few days to a holiday vacation together. But obviously that’s not going to happen.

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38 minutes ago, Ollie fan said:

Really good posting, binman, and it’s also great to see this thread back on track after a little diversion. I’m looking forward to the remainder of your hypotheses!

 

Talking to someone last night, and thinking back on a bit of history, it seems to me that one of the huge factors in 2021, was the fact that we did the hub life much better than any other team. And that contributed to the absolute team commitment and joint purpose that we had. That was, of course, really damaged at Entrecôte  restaurant. And I’m starting to hear that there are other issues – minor ones, but issues nevertheless – around the club. Apart from anything else, our captain is running two wine bars, there are other players with other similar interests, other social matters, and I just wonder if a lot of the cohesion has been lost. The trouble is, I don’t know how we get it back again. (If WCW is reading this thread, I am sure she would have some pretty good insights as to whether I’m right about this, and I would love to hear them.)

 

Perhaps one way to get cohesion back would be to have a couple of cracking wins against good teams e.g. Carlton, and then Collingwood. That might really help. On the other hand, it is a real problem that once again, we really don’t get a bye, which would’ve been an opportunity for, perhaps, the whole team to get away for a few days to a holiday vacation together. But obviously that’s not going to happen.

Good post.. these are the nuanced machinations of the dynamics within the team you are talking about, so subtle, and so significant.

As a sport psych colleague of mine who has worked with (and currently works) with the best in the business once said... the best way to build team cohesion, isn't around leadership meetings or trust exercises - its bbq's and beers at someone's house.

Perhaps in this case, a 'bye' round wine bar crawl...🍷😇

Edited by Engorged Onion
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10 minutes ago, Engorged Onion said:

Good post.. these are the nuanced machinations of the dynamics within the team you are talking about, so subtle, and so significant.

As a sport psych colleague of mine who has worked with (and currently works) with the best in the business once said... the best way to build team cohesion, isn't around leadership meetings or trust exercises - its bbq's and beers at someone's house.

Perhaps in this case, a 'bye' round wine bar crawl...🍷😇

Your sport psych colleague didn’t suggest a team dinner and few wines at Entrocote did he/she?

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3 minutes ago, Watson11 said:

Your sport psych colleague didn’t suggest a team dinner and few wines at Entrocote did he/she?

private places - not public 😉

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2 hours ago, Engorged Onion said:

Good post.. these are the nuanced machinations of the dynamics within the team you are talking about, so subtle, and so significant.

As a sport psych colleague of mine who has worked with (and currently works) with the best in the business once said... the best way to build team cohesion, isn't around leadership meetings or trust exercises - its bbq's and beers at someone's house.

Perhaps in this case, a 'bye' round wine bar crawl...🍷😇

Trips down the coast are best for this, different scenery, break the monotony up etc 

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In the Carlton postgame thread someone mentioned that they thought the team had moved to a combination of man on man and zone defence (depending on distance from d50 I think). I hadn't noticed this, I went back and watched the replay and it still looks like a straight zone to me with a strong emphasis on keeping the ball out of the corridor. Are others seeing a change? 

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Act two of the season

Act two of the season is rounds 11-12, through the bye and up to aprox round 16.

And as important as the first two months are in terms of laying our fitness foundation, you could argue this period is almost as important in terms of giving the contenders the best chance of winning a flag.

As I noted in the Act one of the season post, Selwyn Griffiths said on the DL interview that in season games only provide 70% of the capacity to maintain aerobic levels and between games it is not really possible to build aerobic capacity.

And said that to be in optimal shape come finals they need to use the bye period to do a heavy block of aerobic and power conditioning, but also give players time off to physically and mentally recharge.  So, lots to juggle and consider.

He didn’t mention fatigue in this context but said an impact of this increased training load is a greater risk of injury in games. Logic suggests extra running and weights sessions will also cause fatigue (as is the case in the preseason), which will impact our performance in games (in much the same way accumulative fatigue does).   

I hesitate to call this a loading phase because it became so emotive on DL last year and in 2021 and 2022. And to be perfectly honest I can’t be bothered relitigating the debate (that said, to be clear, i have never suggested fatigue is an excuse for poor performance, but rather a factor, a reason - one of many factors that can impact performance, but a very important one and one that is almost uniformly overlooked in the media).  

But for anyone reading this who has not participated in the great loading debate, Selwyn Griffith explains the process here (and there are hundreds of posts on the topic last year and in 2021):

  • 15:45 mins to 19:30:  Selwyn discusses the full year’s training program
  • 19:30 to 21:48: Selwyn discusses the impact of accumulative fatigue, and the phase where they are increasing loads etc

From his comments there is no question they do a block of heavy training at this point in the season. The question is how long it goes for.

He doesn’t directly answer that question, though references the round 12-15 period. Which makes sense given the goal for the real contenders is to be cherry ripe in mid-September (round 16 is usually early July).  

My take from these comments, and pretty extensive research in previous years, is that it is about a three-week period they go extra hard. There's no question it had a significant impact on our performance in a block of aprox 3-4 rounds in the last two seasons because of the related fatigue (ie they do additional running and power sessions on top of recovering from games).  

In 2021, in round 13 we got rolled by the then lowly Pies in a listless performance (we scored 63 points), had our bye, only beat the lowly bombers by 11 points in another scrappy performance (scoring 68 points), got rolled by the Giants on the G, only managing 55 points on a dry day, went to Port and played great to win (scoring 86 points) but then drew with Hawks (79 points) and got beaten in round 19 by the dogs, scoring only 65 points.

From that point we didn’t lose another game for the season, averaging aprox 108 points a game, inclusive of our three finals wins.

Last season, we lost in rounds 11, 12 and 13, only breaking 60 points once when the Swans beat us 76-61. Then after our bye we scored 16.21 117 and poleaxed the Lions by 61 points in round 15.

The pattern has started to repeat itself so far this year, with a loss to Freo in round 11 and a scrappy, low quality match against the blues (but thankfully a win).

By the by, on the blues game, if you are someone who thinks hibbo is best 22 (as I am), then the logical extension of him being managed is that they did not give the team the best chance of winning this game. This is what I mean by prioritising winning the war not the battles, which Goody has touched on multiple times when he talks about the goal being in our best shape and playing our best footy come finals.

Again, this is not a scenario limited to Melbourne. Burgess took the tigers' fitness template, added his philosophy and then others have followed – most notably Geelong last year.

Given how running based the Pies are, they are almost certainly following a similar regime. Why? Because they can’t win a flag if they are not as fit as they were in the first third of the season come grand final day – or as fit as us for that matter (it’s worth nothing Sanderson has said a number of times the Pies are the fittest side atm by some margin – hard to prove, but their ability to run out games is used as the key evidence. We have lost only two final quarters for the year, so by that logic we must be pretty fit too).   

As previously noted, I make a distinction between flag contenders and non-contenders. I assume non contenders would still follow a similar training program, but their focus is on making finals, not winning a flag. So they might not go quite as hard around the bye as they can less afford to lose games because of fatigue. And they need to peak at the start of September, not the end.

You don’t need to be sport scientist to see the impact of fatigue on performance. Just watch any game in the last two rounds and you can clearly see its impact.

In round 11, top 8 teams in the Lions, Dees, Dogs, Cats and Saints all lost to teams well below them on the ladder and the pies gave up six last quarter goals to the roos to only win by 6 goals after leading by nearly 10 goals. 

There have been less anomalous results in round 12, but the quality of the games and skill execution was uniformly very poor. And the dogs and Crows (where Burgess now works) both got out to big leads before completely running out of gas and getting easily rolled.

Leaving aside how the games looked, there are tonnes of AFL wide metrics that evidence the impact of accumative faitgue on perfomance. 

So, the timing of the heavy training block will have a big impact on which games we are most impacted by fatigue in, and which games we might therefore be at risk of losing going in as favourite.

The big question then is when does the heavy training block commence for us this year?

There are some variables that are worth factoring in when considering that question:

  • Our training program has changed quite a bit this year, and it appears we are following the Cats lead in terms of managing players, using more players through the middle, using more players full stop, and key players spending more time on the bench than in 2021 and 2022 
  • There is an extra round this year
  • Selwyn talked about how tough the first half of our season was in terms of the challenges of travel combined with multiple short breaks between games
  • For the second year in a row, we essentially don't get a bye because we only have 9 days between the pies game and our post bye game (by way of comparison, most other teams get a full two-week break, meaning players can get away from the club and there is still time for a good block of heavy training without worrying too much about the impact on the post bye match)
  • Griffith noted these factors made planning when to do additional blocks of training a real challenge – and I wonder if the timing of breaks means they have to split the 3-week block of heavy training into smaller blocks of say 7-9 days 
  • But he also noted that post bye, it is a better fixture in terms of travel and breaks between the games
  • It is also an easier run home than last year, which as was the case for the Cats last year, means greater opportunity to manage players (if the cats had as many must win, finals like, high pressure games as us in the last 5 or 6 games of last season they would not have had the luxury of managing players)

So, back to the key question - when does the heavy training block commence for us this year?

Short answer is I don’t know.

But my best guess is that it started after the Freo game, which just about marries up with the aprox rounds 12-15 window SG talked about.

I fully admit this guess is influenced by the hope that we plan to be in the best possible shape for the Kings' birthday game, which we weren’t last season. But I think this year the stakes, and timing, are different.

This is one battle that will help us win the war. And it is also one of the most eagerly anticipated game in years. I'm hoping we want to do everything we can to win (like resting Hibbo against the blues). 

That said, even factoring in yet another six-day break, I think the blues game provided pretty good evidence of a team that was fatigued beyond accumulative fatigue – ie they went hard on the track in the lead up.

For the first time all season we played tempo footy and looked to control the momentum and speed of the game just as we so often did in 2021 and in the first half of 2022. Great way to conserve energy.

And it was by far our lowest pressure ratings for the season, and we went into cruise mode in the last q (keeping in mind 180 is considered league average and 200 elite pressure – dees in first column):

Q1: 179 - 195
Q2: 172 - 161
Q3: 179 - 166
Q4: 148 - 153
Tot: 170 - 170

So, we train hard in the lead up to the blues and go hard for the first half of this week?

And then taper into the Kings Birthday game.

We have our bye, players have a 3 or 4 day break and then go hard again in the lead up to the Cats game – which of course we want to win but are prepared to risk losing because of fatigue (if I’m right we will see a the same sort of scrappy, low quality game as we did at aprox the same time as our game against the cats at taxpayer park last season).

We then have a nine day break ahead of our round 16 Alice Spring game against the Giants, so we do our last heavy training block (resulting in another scrappy game) to get our aerobic and power closer to the optimal level as we roll into the third act of the season, rounds 16 to 24. 

Edited by binman
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42 minutes ago, FlashInThePan said:

In the Carlton postgame thread someone mentioned that they thought the team had moved to a combination of man on man and zone defence (depending on distance from d50 I think). I hadn't noticed this, I went back and watched the replay and it still looks like a straight zone to me with a strong emphasis on keeping the ball out of the corridor. Are others seeing a change? 

That was me I think.

I noticed it on the MCC side, where I sit. When we were defending in the 2nd or 3rd. It's not something we kept up all game, it's a bit like the Richmond 2nd or 3rd quarter where I noticed it.

I'd be intrigued to know whether anyone else is spotting this too. And as I said in that post, we didn't stick to it on transition. We played a zone when Carlton switched the ball to the other side of the ground.

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On 6/2/2023 at 4:59 PM, Ollie fan said:

I think alcohol is a problem - it certainly was at Entrecote.

In-season for sure.

Players are free to let their hair down in the off and of course they do.

However, some are still doing so in the first few weeks of the pre-season.

No doubt the sensible ones set some sort of limit in terms of when they end the binge and get serious but they do it.

Season's are pretty long.  They obviously need to wind down and they're only human of course.

The old saying "if you don't be bloody stupid you'll be alright" probably applies here though.

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51 minutes ago, layzie said:

It would be nice if we could get a proper week off during the bye one year and see what this allows them do with the fitness program. 

I hope we request this from the AFL next season.

It is beyond a joke that we've been screwed two years running, and I have no idea how the AFLPA has allowed this.

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1 hour ago, A F said:

That was me I think.

I noticed it on the MCC side, where I sit. When we were defending in the 2nd or 3rd. It's not something we kept up all game, it's a bit like the Richmond 2nd or 3rd quarter where I noticed it.

I'd be intrigued to know whether anyone else is spotting this too. And as I said in that post, we didn't stick to it on transition. We played a zone when Carlton switched the ball to the other side of the ground.

Thanks AF, I couldn't see it in the replay but then the shots are often so tight that you can't see the big picture. I'll keep an eye out live.

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1 hour ago, binman said:

Part two of the season

 

Thx @binman. Always enjoy reading your thoughts. I like that you've put yourself on the line by using your hypothesis to generate some predictions and given us specific means of testing those predictions (i.e. a better performance against the Pies and scrappy, low quality games against Cats and Giants). 

Like most watching the Blues game, I was pleased to see our whole-of-team defensive system again taking shape but frustrated by our inefficient ball use. Watching "Roaming Brian" (it's like a car crash - awful but hard to look away), I was surprised by the immediate reactions of Yze, Richardson and Goodwin. Each seemed disproportionately pleased with the performance (i.e. a scrappy 17 point win over a struggling team). Perhaps they're appraising the performance in a context unknown to outsiders (e.g. player fatigue levels due to training loads).

(Apologies for tarnishing this thread with such low quality speculation 😬)  

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3 hours ago, speed demon said:

Thx @binman. Always enjoy reading your thoughts. I like that you've put yourself on the line by using your hypothesis to generate some predictions and given us specific means of testing those predictions (i.e. a better performance against the Pies and scrappy, low quality games against Cats and Giants). 

Like most watching the Blues game, I was pleased to see our whole-of-team defensive system again taking shape but frustrated by our inefficient ball use. Watching "Roaming Brian" (it's like a car crash - awful but hard to look away), I was surprised by the immediate reactions of Yze, Richardson and Goodwin. Each seemed disproportionately pleased with the performance (i.e. a scrappy 17 point win over a struggling team). Perhaps they're appraising the performance in a context unknown to outsiders (e.g. player fatigue levels due to training loads).

(Apologies for tarnishing this thread with such low quality speculation 😬)  

Thanks SD.

That is not low-quality speculation at all. Very relevant to the discussion. And to be honest its exactly why i started this thread - to have some more nuanced conversations about the game we all love.

Your comments are interesting, and touch on something that i find really curious - footy fans have been conditioned by the media to disregard what coaches say (lying is the first language of footy and all that 1980s rubbish) - particularly if they contradict the micro focus and weekly contender or pretender narrative the media love to play each week. 

Goody has been at pains to point out that everything is about being ready to go come finals. That we are planning for finals success. Why is this point disregarded?

An even better example of how the media frames things to prime its audience to believe a particular narrative is the weird repetition the Dees have scoring issues.

This has become so accepted that King could say, with all sincerity, on First Crack last night that (paraphrasing) everyone knows the Dees are struggling with scoring, and neither cohost said a peep to push back.

Why would they push back?

Because it is a complete load of cobblers as evidenced by a pretty significant bit of irrefutable data - up till this round we had scored more points than any team in the competition (the cats have now edged us by 17 points - but despite having won three less games than the supposedly rampant scoring machine in the pies we have still scored more points than them) - a point Goody has also made on multiple occasions.

We are at the halfway point in the season. Given the fatcs, how is it possible for the dees have a scoring issues narrative to hold any credence, let alone become the dominant narrative?

Scott basically said the media narrative, and refusal to see the macro picture is a load of hogwash in his post-match presser this week. 

There are plenty of other examples. 

Yet collectively the media, and therefore footy fans (generalizing) ignore these messages from senior coaches.

I can't find the clip, but on the Sunday ABC radio footy show, the Lead, they played those comments from Scott and came back and said Scott had 'pierced the fourth wall' and called out the games the footy media play.

The comments they played from Scott are 9:28 to 11:41 of this clip:

Full post-match, R12: Cats (afl.com.au)

 

Edited by binman
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2 hours ago, speed demon said:

Thx @binman. Always enjoy reading your thoughts. I like that you've put yourself on the line by using your hypothesis to generate some predictions and given us specific means of testing those predictions (i.e. a better performance against the Pies and scrappy, low quality games against Cats and Giants). 

Like most watching the Blues game, I was pleased to see our whole-of-team defensive system again taking shape but frustrated by our inefficient ball use. Watching "Roaming Brian" (it's like a car crash - awful but hard to look away), I was surprised by the immediate reactions of Yze, Richardson and Goodwin. Each seemed disproportionately pleased with the performance (i.e. a scrappy 17 point win over a struggling team). Perhaps they're appraising the performance in a context unknown to outsiders (e.g. player fatigue levels due to training loads).

(Apologies for tarnishing this thread with such low quality speculation 😬)  

I'd imagine there is something to this speculation though. Not sure how much or how little can be attributed to it but there seemed to be two sets of MFC fans and their reactions around me on Fri night:

- Those that were extremely unhappy with the skill errors, getting angry at the team and constantly wondering how this could be.

- Those who were somewhat frustrated with the skill errors but had accepted that this could be the case due to fatigue and confidence being down lately with execution (This showed with the indecisiveness in our play). What they cared about was doing the things that make us what we are and that is great defensive shape, intensity and pressure. 

I'm thinking the coaches were thinking like the latter. 

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2 hours ago, binman said:

Thanks SD.

That is not low-quality speculation at all. Very relevant to the discussion. And to be honest its exactly why i started this thread - to have some more nuanced conversations about the game we all love.

Your comments are interesting, and touch on something that i find really curious - footy fans have been conditioned by the media to disregard what coaches say (lying is the first language of footy and all that 1980s rubbish) - particularly if they contradict the micro focus and weekly contender or pretender narrative the media love to play each week. 

Goody has been at pains to point out that everything is about being ready to go come finals. That we are planning for finals success. Why is this point disregarded?

An even better example of how the media frames things to prime its audience to believe a particular narrative is the weird repetition the Dees have scoring issues.

This has become so accepted that King could say, with all sincerity, on First Crack last night that (paraphrasing) everyone knows the Dees are struggling with scoring, and neither cohost said a peep to push back.

Why would they push back?

Because it is a complete load of cobblers as evidenced by a pretty significant bit of irrefutable data - up till this round we had scored more points than any team in the competition (the cats have now edged us by 17 points - but despite having won three less games than the supposedly rampant scoring machine in the pies we have still scored more points than them) - a point Goody has also made on multiple occasions.

We are at the halfway point in the season. Given the fatcs, how is it possible for the dees have a scoring issues narrative to hold any credence, let alone become the dominant narrative?

Scott basically said the media narrative, and refusal to see the macro picture is a load of hogwash in his post-match presser this week. 

There are plenty of other examples. 

Yet collectively the media, and therefore footy fans (generalizing) ignore these messages from senior coaches.

I can't find the clip, but on the Sunday ABC radio footy show, the Lead, they played those comments from Scott and came back and said Scott had 'pierced the fourth wall' and called out the games the footy media play.

The comments they played from Scott are 9:28 to 11:41 of this clip:

Full post-match, R12: Cats (afl.com.au)

 

Thx for the link - Scotts comments are interesting.

This is how I see things. The differing priorities of the coaches (i.e. premiership success) and the media (i.e. consumer engagement) give rise to the conflicting perspectives (macro vs micro). Thus, the media amplifies the significance of each action, player performance or match to drive engagement while the coaches tend to de-emphasise.  

This leads to the inference that clubs regularly make decisions in the interest of premiership success at the expense of optimising weekly success (eg increased training loads for later pay offs, managing/resting players, trialing players in different positions or employing new tactics).

This would be an uncomfortable truth for the AFL as it compromises the integrity of the betting markets; clearly knowing how much club's have prioritised a particular match up would be valuable intelligence. 

This is also not in the interests of the media to widely report ("...expect a scrappy, error-riddled, low-scoring game tonight as the Demons come into this game off a hard week on the track..." hardly stirs excitement). Especially when the media is controlled by the AFL. 

All of this pollutes the quality of analysis regarding the reasons for a team's form. 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, binman said:

Act two of the season

Act two of the season is rounds 11-12, through the bye and up to aprox round 16.

And as important as the first two months are in terms of laying our fitness foundation, you could argue this period is almost as important in terms of giving the contenders the best chance of winning a flag.

As I noted in the Act one of the season post, Selwyn Griffiths said on the DL interview that in season games only provide 70% of the capacity to maintain aerobic levels and between games it is not really possible to build aerobic capacity.

And said that to be in optimal shape come finals they need to use the bye period to do a heavy block of aerobic and power conditioning, but also give players time off to physically and mentally recharge.  So, lots to juggle and consider.

He didn’t mention fatigue in this context but said an impact of this increased training load is a greater risk of injury in games. Logic suggests extra running and weights sessions will also cause fatigue (as is the case in the preseason), which will impact our performance in games (in much the same way accumulative fatigue does).   

I hesitate to call this a loading phase because it became so emotive on DL last year and in 2021 and 2022. And to be perfectly honest I can’t be bothered relitigating the debate (that said, to be clear, i have never suggested fatigue is an excuse for poor performance, but rather a factor, a reason - one of many factors that can impact performance, but a very important one and one that is almost uniformly overlooked in the media).  

But for anyone reading this who has not participated in the great loading debate, Selwyn Griffith explains the process here (and there are hundreds of posts on the topic last year and in 2021):

  • 15:45 mins to 19:30:  Selwyn discusses the full year’s training program
  • 19:30 to 21:48: Selwyn discusses the impact of accumulative fatigue, and the phase where they are increasing loads etc

From his comments there is no question they do a block of heavy training at this point in the season. The question is how long it goes for.

He doesn’t directly answer that question, though references the round 12-15 period. Which makes sense given the goal for the real contenders is to be cherry ripe in mid-September (round 16 is usually early July).  

My take from these comments, and pretty extensive research in previous years, is that it is about a three-week period they go extra hard. There's no question it had a significant impact on our performance in a block of aprox 3-4 rounds in the last two seasons because of the related fatigue (ie they do additional running and power sessions on top of recovering from games).  

In 2021, in round 13 we got rolled by the then lowly Pies in a listless performance (we scored 63 points), had our bye, only beat the lowly bombers by 11 points in another scrappy performance (scoring 68 points), got rolled by the Giants on the G, only managing 55 points on a dry day, went to Port and played great to win (scoring 86 points) but then drew with Hawks (79 points) and got beaten in round 19 by the dogs, scoring only 65 points.

From that point we didn’t lose another game for the season, averaging aprox 108 points a game, inclusive of our three finals wins.

Last season, we lost in rounds 11, 12 and 13, only breaking 60 points once when the Swans beat us 76-61. Then after our bye we scored 16.21 117 and poleaxed the Lions by 61 points in round 15.

The pattern has started to repeat itself so far this year, with a loss to Freo in round 11 and a scrappy, low quality match against the blues (but thankfully a win).

By the by, on the blues game, if you are someone who thinks hibbo is best 22 (as I am), then the logical extension of him being managed is that they did not give the team the best chance of winning this game. This is what I mean by prioritising winning the war not the battles, which Goody has touched on multiple times when he talks about the goal being in our best shape and playing our best footy come finals.

Again, this is not a scenario limited to Melbourne. Burgess took the tigers' fitness template, added his philosophy and then others have followed – most notably Geelong last year.

Given how running based the Pies are, they are almost certainly following a similar regime. Why? Because they can’t win a flag if they are not as fit as they were in the first third of the season come grand final day – or as fit as us for that matter (it’s worth nothing Sanderson has said a number of times the Pies are the fittest side atm by some margin – hard to prove, but their ability to run out games is used as the key evidence. We have lost only two final quarters for the year, so by that logic we must be pretty fit too).   

As previously noted, I make a distinction between flag contenders and non-contenders. I assume non contenders would still follow a similar training program, but their focus is on making finals, not winning a flag. So they might not go quite as hard around the bye as they can less afford to lose games because of fatigue. And they need to peak at the start of September, not the end.

You don’t need to be sport scientist to see the impact of fatigue on performance. Just watch any game in the last two rounds and you can clearly see its impact.

In round 11, top 8 teams in the Lions, Dees, Dogs, Cats and Saints all lost to teams well below them on the ladder and the pies gave up six last quarter goals to the roos to only win by 6 goals after leading by nearly 10 goals. 

There have been less anomalous results in round 12, but the quality of the games and skill execution was uniformly very poor. And the dogs and Crows (where Burgess now works) both got out to big leads before completely running out of gas and getting easily rolled.

Leaving aside how the games looked, there are tonnes of AFL wide metrics that evidence the impact of accumative faitgue on perfomance. 

So, the timing of the heavy training block will have a big impact on which games we are most impacted by fatigue in, and which games we might therefore be at risk of losing going in as favourite.

The big question then is when does the heavy training block commence for us this year?

There are some variables that are worth factoring in when considering that question:

  • Our training program has changed quite a bit this year, and it appears we are following the Cats lead in terms of managing players, using more players through the middle, using more players full stop, and key players spending more time on the bench than in 2021 and 2022 
  • There is an extra round this year
  • Selwyn talked about how tough the first half of our season was in terms of the challenges of travel combined with multiple short breaks between games
  • For the second year in a row, we essentially don't get a bye because we only have 9 days between the pies game and our post bye game (by way of comparison, most other teams get a full two-week break, meaning players can get away from the club and there is still time for a good block of heavy training without worrying too much about the impact on the post bye match)
  • Griffith noted these factors made planning when to do additional blocks of training a real challenge – and I wonder if the timing of breaks means they have to split the 3-week block of heavy training into smaller blocks of say 7-9 days 
  • But he also noted that post bye, it is a better fixture in terms of travel and breaks between the games
  • It is also an easier run home than last year, which as was the case for the Cats last year, means greater opportunity to manage players (if the cats had as many must win, finals like, high pressure games as us in the last 5 or 6 games of last season they would not have had the luxury of managing players)

So, back to the key question - when does the heavy training block commence for us this year?

Short answer is I don’t know.

But my best guess is that it started after the Freo game, which just about marries up with the aprox rounds 12-15 window SG talked about.

I fully admit this guess is influenced by the hope that we plan to be in the best possible shape for the Kings' birthday game, which we weren’t last season. But I think this year the stakes, and timing, are different.

This is one battle that will help us win the war. And it is also one of the most eagerly anticipated game in years. I'm hoping we want to do everything we can to win (like resting Hibbo against the blues). 

That said, even factoring in yet another six-day break, I think the blues game provided pretty good evidence of a team that was fatigued beyond accumulative fatigue – ie they went hard on the track in the lead up.

For the first time all season we played tempo footy and looked to control the momentum and speed of the game just as we so often did in 2021 and in the first half of 2022. Great way to conserve energy.

And it was by far our lowest pressure ratings for the season, and we went into cruise mode in the last q (keeping in mind 180 is considered league average and 200 elite pressure – dees in first column):

Q1: 179 - 195
Q2: 172 - 161
Q3: 179 - 166
Q4: 148 - 153
Tot: 170 - 170

So, we train hard in the lead up to the blues and go hard for the first half of this week?

And then taper into the Kings Birthday game.

We have our bye, players have a 3 or 4 day break and then go hard again in the lead up to the Cats game – which of course we want to win but are prepared to risk losing because of fatigue (if I’m right we will see a the same sort of scrappy, low quality game as we did at aprox the same time as our game against the cats at taxpayer park last season).

We then have a nine day break ahead of our round 16 Alice Spring game against the Giants, so we do our last heavy training block (resulting in another scrappy game) to get our aerobic and power closer to the optimal level as we roll into the third act of the season, rounds 16 to 24. 

Great post, @binman.  One comment and one small request.  

I agree with all of the above, the only part I wonder about is the strategic advantage of targeting the King’s Birthday match. From the perspective of giving the team and supporters belief and living up to the hype, it makes sense to prioritise this game. But in terms of winning the battle and given current ladder positions, matches against Brisbane, Geelong and possibly St Kilda may be more important. The Pies are already three games clear — and although they do have a tough second half of the season — I wonder whether we should be targeting position 2 on the ladder rather than 1?

 

P.S. Great if you could add a hyperlink to your note on the first act. I think I missed that. 😁

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32 minutes ago, Nairobi_Demon said:

Great post, @binman.  One comment and one small request.  

I agree with all of the above, the only part I wonder about is the strategic advantage of targeting the King’s Birthday match. From the perspective of giving the team and supporters belief and living up to the hype, it makes sense to prioritise this game. But in terms of winning the battle and given current ladder positions, matches against Brisbane, Geelong and possibly St Kilda may be more important. The Pies are already three games clear — and although they do have a tough second half of the season — I wonder whether we should be targeting position 2 on the ladder rather than 1?

 

P.S. Great if you could add a hyperlink to your note on the first act. I think I missed that. 😁

I think that is a very reasonable question about the strategic advantage of targeting the King’s Birthday match. 

I wondered the same thing.

I'm hoping it's a target game as much as anything.

But the 9 day run in gives me hope they'll use that time to taper. 

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37 minutes ago, Nairobi_Demon said:

Great post, @binman.  One comment and one small request.  

I agree with all of the above, the only part I wonder about is the strategic advantage of targeting the King’s Birthday match. From the perspective of giving the team and supporters belief and living up to the hype, it makes sense to prioritise this game. But in terms of winning the battle and given current ladder positions, matches against Brisbane, Geelong and possibly St Kilda may be more important. The Pies are already three games clear — and although they do have a tough second half of the season — I wonder whether we should be targeting position 2 on the ladder rather than 1?

 

P.S. Great if you could add a hyperlink to your note on the first act. I think I missed that. 😁

Preamble:

https://demonland.com/profile/6059-binman/

Hypothesis about the arc of the season 

Act one:

https://demonland.com/profile/6059-binman/

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