Under the Microscope: Time to get defensive

The highly rated defenders Kieran Collins and Jacob Weitering side-by-side
The highly rated defenders Kieran Collins and Jacob Weitering side-by-side

Key defenders and small defenders are crucial to a team’s success.

Recruiters now have to find players who are willing to run in both an attacking and defensive manner.

In this edition of Under the Microscope we are going to be looking at aspects of defending which are both over and underrated when analysing a player.

The key defensive post is one of the harder positions to fill.

You have to find players who can stop their opponent and rebound with great effect.

This is why players like Tom McDonald and Alex Rance are so highly regarded.

To rebound effectively you have to have great endurance and footy smarts to know when to go off your man and attack the footy.

An underrated stat is the one on one differential and the intercept mark count which measures the ability to out-mark and beat their opponents all together.

If you are going to beat gorillas like Travis Cloke and Tom Hawkins you’re going to need to be able to out-mark your opponents.

This is a skill Cale Hooker has mastered. Smaller defenders like Andrew Mackie and Brodie Smith also have added this element to their game.

Small defenders are all measured by rebound 50s. But this stat is inflated because of the idea that if you can get rebound 50s then you can play as a small defender.

The stats which are held highly in coaching, talent identification and media circles are the running bounces and meters gained. These stats show that they can attack with their kicking and run.

The one on one differential is also very important for these players because small forwards are becoming more dynamic and there is an increasing trend of stronger bodied medium forwards, like Jamie Elliott.

Likely top pick Jacob Weitering has mastered all the tools of the key defender at a young age, despite most upper-echelon key defenders reaching this level at 23 years of age.

One on one he beats his opponents thoroughly and he has the ability to gather the footy there.

His intercept marking and rebounding are outstanding.

Another underrated aspect of defending is decision making.

They need to decide between manning up, zoning off, going for the mark, getting a spoil in and the list goes on.

This is why the best defenders are able to have a balance of attacking and defending.

Defenders are the most undervalued players in the league and they deserve recognition.

If we had an award like the Defensive Player of the Year award like the NBA then these stoppers, rebounders, markers and decision makers can get the credit they deserve.



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