“The defender’s point of reference should never be his opponent but a team–mate.”
— Arrigo Sacchi
To build off of my previous post, I like what Arrigo Sacchi says here. Defenders can dictate how and where and offensive player receives the ball through their own positioning, and that has to be the priority. If you use the opponent as your point of reference, you are already allowing him to dictate the flow of the game more than he should be able to.
A few years ago I bought an Italian tactical book on defensive positioning, and it was interesting how they’ve made defense into a science. Depending on where the ball is, there is a precise position on the field for each defender that maximizes support for each other as well as covering the most dangerous space. It matters less where your opponents are in this schema. You look at where the ball is and where your teammates are. Many big name coaches, like England’s Roy Hodgson for example, spend hours walking their midfielders and defenders through scenarios to drill down how exactly to position themselves.
What can get a bit frustrating about my pick-up games is that there isn’t much discussion about who plays where at the start. It just evolves naturally, and often as the game goes on people get tired and either don’t go back on defense or they just decide they want to play forward and move up there. But that’s the price you pay for such a casual game.
I would like to play on a real team in some regards, probably as a left back. But that’s probably a few years in the future, since right now I have too much going on to commit regularly to a team. I also have reservations about how bloody competitive guys on these teams can get. There were a few games going on at the old field where my pick-up game used to play, and the games were mean, card-filled affairs. Not what I want to do with my free time.