3.3 FREE PASSES
(b) Twenty examples of free passes
- The taker of the free pass stands facing the korf. (S)he passes the ball to the assist player and takes a few steps backwards before receiving the return pass and shooting. This is the basic free pass. If the team is unable to score from this, and the opposition knows that, then the team will never score from a free pass. In this, the assist player has a difficult task, as his/her opponent will do everything possible to interfere with the assist.
- As the pass for free pass 1 can be difficult, the following is a possibility. The assist player runs away one or two steps by the post. The taker makes a throwing movement, but keeps the ball. As soon as the assister’s defender follows the original movement, the assist player moves back towards the post and receives the ball for a running-in shot.
- Another way to assist. The assist player stands in space and runs in the direction of the korf as soon as the whistle is blown. Two and a half metres from the free pass, (s)he makes a sharp turn, like a veering-off movement, so that the defender cannot follow, allowing an unchallenged pass to be given.
- If the defender of the assist player in 3 cannot follow the movement at all, then the assist player can take a calm shot.
- If the defender expects 3, and stands between the assister and the taker, the possibility remains to continue the sprint to the post and receive the ball from the taker for a running-in shot.
- As free pass 1, but the taker is not fully free. Very often there is the possibility to play the ball back to the assist player since his/her defender, expecting a shot from the taker, relaxes. The assister shoots.
- As 1, but now the defender of the taker over-commits. The taker plays the ball to the post and takes a running-in shot. Someone needs to be free under the korf to give the assist at the right moment. Not easy!
- A possibility against unthinking defenders. The taker plays the ball to the assister as in 1, but the ball is not played back to the taker but rather to the post. Meanwhile, the taker feints as if to receive the return pass before running past his/her opponent for the running-in shot.
- Yet another type of assist. (See diagram). The rebound player stands with his/her opponent under the korf, the assist player is the other side of the post from the taker. On the referee’s whistle, the assister cuts against the post and both players, whereby the personal opponent is lost and the assist for the shot can easily be given.
- A variation on 9 is for the assist player to cut using only the korf, on either side, whereby it should always be possible to break free. The only problem is that the assist may not always be given from the favourite side of the taker. Fortunately not every shooter has one side that is clearly better.
- Free ball 10 presents the assist player with the chance to shoot. For example, the assister starts to the left of the korf and allows his/her opponent to front defend. When by the korf, the assister sprints to the other side and shoots from 2-3 metres. This is not cutting since the defender can follow normally!
- In the organisation of the exercising of free passes, I spoke of the identification of a taker, an assist player and a rebounder. This means that one player has no function. Normally that person is told to stay in space so that if the free ball does not work out, a pass can easily be given. Opponents of this player often pay most attention to what is happening under the korf. This allows the following easy possibility: after the whistle, the taker passes to this fourth player who does not hesitate but shoots immediately. There are two situations in which this free pass can often be used: (i) if the free pass is right under the korf, a strong post player can take the ball, pass for a distance shot to someone away from the korf, and thereafter win the rebound, (ii) where there is a strong wind and a normal free pass, though possible, is more risky.
- A variation on free pass 12: the taker plays the ball to the free fourth player. The defender of this player is surprised and moves in too quickly. At which point the ball is played back to the taker of the free pass, who has cut in front under the korf, and a running-in shot is taken.
- Three in a row – a light-hearted approach that is often successful. The taker is by the korf and the three other players stand exactly 2.5 metres from the ball in a row, so that the defender of the lady in the middle cannot take up a defending position. On the referee’s whistle, the ball is played to the middle lady who shoots to score.
- The taker, assister and rebounder place themselves as for free pass 1. The fourth player stands 2.5 metres behind the taker. On the referee’s whistle the ball goes to the assist player and Number 4 moves in for a running-in shot.
- A variation on 15 that is more difficult to defend. Now the rebound player stands next to the fourth player. The ball is played to the assister. Number 3 runs in front of Number 4, followed by his/her defender. Number 4 runs once Number 3 has passed him to take a running-in shot with assist from the assist player. There is no cutting, at least not from the player who shoots.
- Setting the block (1). The same as free pass 1 but the assist is made easier by using two assist players. The not so useful fourth player stands 2.5 metres from the taker with the instruction to stand firm. This person sets the block. The assist player stands right next to Number 4. Once the referee blows his/her whistle, the assister takes one step outwards in the direction of the taker to be completely free to give the assist. The taker shoots.
- Setting the block (2). Number 4 establishes a block as for free pass 17. The assist player runs as in free pass 3. The veering-off movement is made right in front of the block and the assist can be given calmly.
- Starting position as for free pass 1. The taker passes to the assister. The assister turn sharply, passes to the person under the korf and goes for a running-in shot. This pass can also be played behind the back.
- The last of the series. The organisation is as for number 1. The taker plays the ball over the defender to a tall player under the korf. The defender is surprised and turns to see what is happening. The ball is flicked back to the shooter, who, because of the defender’s distraction, has time to make a good shot.
Free passes followed by a running-in shot are more suited to free passes further from the post, and those with a distance shot are better for free passes nearer to the post. The defenders know this as well and should organise themselves accordingly.
I have seen a lot of goals scored using these free passes, even if they seem easy to defend. The crucial aspect is to put the defenders off balance, both literally (through feinting movements) and figuratively (by suggesting that a different free pass will be taken). And I stress again: the execution must be perfect.