by Lawrence Fine

Too often, when a back has the ball, the opposing teams forwards run right at the player with the ball in order to put pressure on the back. The problem with taking this type of an approach is that her teammates have no idea of how to anticipate the next move by the player with the ball.

The alternative is for the forward to angle her approach to force the back in one direction or the other. Frequently this is done to force the backs to the side and confine them to one side. See the diagram below to see this type of an angle of approach.

When the forward takes this type of approach, the back usually thinks he is winning by beating the forward down the side but the truth of the matter is that when the forward can force the back in the direction she wants, and she has support on that side, then the forward is winning. One of the advantages of forcing the backs toward the side is that the sideline is a restriction which basically turns into another teammate for the defensive team so by forcing to the sideline, it creates a virtual double team with only one defensive player.

Another option is for the forward to take the opposite angle of approach and force the back down the middle of the field. The reason for forcing play down the middle of the field is when the defensive team thinks their strength is in the middle of the field and feel that they want to force the play to their strength and basically funnel all of the play to what they feel is a numbers up situation.

Whether the forwards force the play wide or they force the play down the middle of the field, as long as there is a decision made as to what will be done and the rest of the team is on the same page as the forwards in terms of a game plan the defensive team will usually be more successful than the teams who simply pressure the ball without much thought.

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