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Man Down, Do You Get Possession, and Then Pray?

Man Down. The ball is on the ground, now what? In most case, do you pray before they launch it down the field, or pray while it is in flight?

If you were at IMLCA you heard Coach Tony Seaman from Towson offer some unique insights on clearing the ball on Man Down. But it does not happen by accident.

Maybe you are just hoping that ground ball went to a ‘short-stick’ who can run like the wind, and you begin to wave your arms like a windmill, personally cheering him down the length of the field. Note to self: “screaming helps.”[private]

Or maybe, you coach your goalie to simply look up and heave it as far as possible, hoping it does not hit a whip in his stick and go 25 yards to an opposing midfielder.

Or maybe the ball ends up in the stick of a player who has yet to make a successful dodge this season, so for this one time the odds are in his favor.

Or maybe you have done a little coaching, and the goalie is feverishly running circles around the crease being chased by an over zealous Attackman until the whistle blows for failure to advance.

If any of these might sound too familiar to you, help might be on the way. If you are a subscriber to the ‘Gilman’ philosophy of Man Down Clears let me at least offer some tips. First, at least instruct your Attack Players to hang out at midfield and then pre-designate which corner we are going to heave the ball to. The premise being that our Attack can beat them to the ball. We called it, “Gilman with a purpose.”

But let me warn you, it is most definitely a scenario you should practice once or twice a week, otherwise you will see the ball go over 100 yards, through the end line. I am serious; the small investment of practice is the key difference. It probably is not a great idea, but at least it has a better chance than a blind heave.

Coach Tony Seaman offered a unique twist on this concept at the IMLCA Conference this year. He suggested placing all three Attackmen at the midfield line on one side of the field, kind of in a cluster. The Man Down Player or Goalie then throws a soft lob to the other far side of the field towards the midfield line.

One Attack player, (who knows ahead of time where the lob is going to go,) sprints to the ball as the other Attack Players break. Or you might even have them pick the designated chaser defenseman. This one works great and resulted in some transition goals, even on Man Down for us.

However for both Option 1 and Option 2 above you must practice these specialty plays. I recommend just placing a bucket where you might like the pass to land and have your Goalie throw 10-15 balls twice a week to get a feel for the location.

Secondly, this is only going to work once against a good coach, maybe twice against your archrival. So practice the plays to both sides of the field. It sounds simple but now you have some options. And remind the players regarding the switch in landing areas at half or time out…

The next play for clearing offered by Coach Seaman was for a ‘static’ clear on Man Down, or a clear on a whistle where you might get possession on the end line. Rather than the Goalie cutting through the crease, where his defender cannot go, he suggested a Middie. I thought this was genius.

On the whistle the Middie starts out in front of the cage, cuts through the crease towards the man with the ball gaining an advantage, as his defender has to run around the crease. Once he catches the ball have everyone else break up, opening up running or passing lanes.

Again please practice these clearing techniques so everyone is comfortable. It only takes a few minutes, it is fun, gives the kids a good alternative and confidence. [/private]

God is good, but save your praying for goals and church…

Coach Mike

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