Check out this block (at 44 seconds; YouTube is refusing to let me link to the right time-point) from Ryan Purcell in the Windmill Windup final. Obviously, the guy is a great athlete, but the thing that really makes this happen is the anticipation.
It would be absurd to suggest that he reacted to the pass – there’s no way he had .2 of a second (a normal human response time) to see it and react. In fact, he moves even before the throwing motion begins. This level of anticipation is typical of expert performers in all sports – for example, batsmen in cricket have been shown to decide whether to play off the front or back foot some 200ms before the bowler even releases the ball. Top tennis players know where the serve is going well in advance of the ball being struck. This is a really interesting subject that I’ll probably come back to at some point.
But what I’m focussed on today is the guy who throws the blocked pass. Watch the slow motion, and you’ll see him turn to play defence while Ryan is still in the air.
There’s a huge lesson here. It might take years to get enough game time to see the play developing as Ryan did; it may even take a while to be able to recognise the block is happening as early as this thrower did; but it shouldn’t take you long at all to realise that what matters after a turnover is defence.
If you’re someone who holds their head, or looks around for someone to blame, or in any way loses focus after a turn, then watch this clip and see how it should be done. We all make mistakes, and the time to worry about it is not when there are unmarked players streaking long . . .
Unknown Bad Skid player – I salute you.