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Posted in: General

Marking in Team Sports

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  • NMG16

    My particular sport is hockey, but I'm sure it applies to many others.

    I would be interested to hear what other coaches feel about zonal and man-to-man marking.

    What are the advantages/disadvantages to each? When do you adopt one or the other? Do you, possibly, mark one key player man-to-man and adapt your zonal defence to allow for this? Do you stick to your system and cause opponents to adapt theirs or vice-versa?

    I have always coached man-to-man, though this affects our formation, and am now coaching a team that has always marked zonally.

    Many thanks,


  • Nollzer

    Personally,FOUR things govern my tactical decision.

    a. The scoring map. The areas and percentages where scoring occurs

    B. The scoring stats and patterns of the opposition. From this I rank the opposition in terms of scoring threat

     c. Evidence of a link player or playmaker

    d. Substitutions patterns

    usually, I decide on a mix n match approach which consists of

    a. Marking their key offensive threats, scorers and playmaker

    b. Conceding possession in non scoring areas, and dropping to protect scoring zone. Sweeper positions etc

    c. Deciding on transition strategy, offensive shape

    Our game of Gaelic football has traditionally been a Mano e Mano sport and only adopted a zonal approach in the last 5 years. As the playing area is large 140m x 85m, the fitness levels and intensity required are demanding. The system adopted will depend on the players available and their characteristics.

  • DaveP

    The different types of marking due change I find depending on a number of things. The area of the pitch and what the opposition is doing.

  • DaveP

    Attacking third - pressing which is zonal

  • DaveP

    Middle third - zonal, Defending third man to man which sometimes means passing on the player. If the opposition has a key player who needs to be marked you can put a dedicated marker or double team marking. Players need to made aware and is something can be reinforced during training using game pla.

  • Nollzer

    In Mano et Mano marking, most extreme case was Gentille v Maradona in 1982 World Cup

    what is the correct body position ?

    how much do you hassle (legally) opponent?

    Basics ?

    a. Touch tight, all the time. Up close and personal

    b. Hand across attackers body

    c. Lead taking opponents ground

    d. Level or in front?

    e. Goal side

    f. Emphasis on closing down options before they occur

    G. Correct power position for change of direction and acceleration.

  • NMG16

    Thanks Dave,

    It's been a little while. It seems that when the 'boys' said they were marking zonally, they were actually using more of a zonal man-to-man marking. As in any system, this has both its advantages and disadvantages, but for now, the players are comfortable with this and it generally works. We've left it as it is for now and have worked on identifying and strengthening the weaker areas of this system.

    As for formations, we've tried a few in different situations, with one 'go-to'. The set-up for each match depends upon the players available to us and what we hope to achieve from the game. However, whether we stick with this or change it depends upon the game environment - the set-up of the opposition, whether the opposition is playing effectively against us, what the score is, what the phase of the game is and whether there is a better way to exploit weaknesses in the opposition.

    There's still much work to be done, but changes need to made gently and slowly. We've been caught out a couple of times, but the trend is on the up. Currently, we sit second in our league. If we end up there at the end of the season it will have been a very successful year.

    Your Men's 1st XI appears to be in a similar situation to us. If we're both successful we could be playing each other next year - so I'd better not say any more :D 

    Thanks for your thoughts Dave. I hope you're successful this season.

    For anyone else reading this, Soccer Strategies by Robyn Jones with Tom Tranter is an easy read that may help. Obvious adaptations in thinking are needed if football's not your sport.

  • NMG16

    Hi Val

    I agree with the points you make, but will have to get on YouTube to hopefully see Gentille v Maradona, 

    Have a good Christmas

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