The Law of Space and Time

Continuing on the lessons from #GAMECHANGER

Space creates time, but time cannot always create space.

The most important law in all sports, regardless of moment, context, or phase, is the law of space and time.

Often you hear people refer to an athlete who seems to have more time on the ball, or a player who creates time for others. In reality, what is really being referred to here is the creation of space. Time and space are both created using the four macro principles of team sport. The law of space and time states that space can create time. This law is not reversible in sports—time does not necessarily create space.

To create space in one area, we compress players in another.

The biggest difference between professional and collegiate games is speed of play. In any game, if a player gets enough time they can achieve almost anything. Creating space gives them this time.

What is special about this is that it applies to all the sports I’ve worked in. In AFL, Clarko’s cluster is one of the most extreme examples of how by compressing space with men, time on the ball was reduced. In the NFL, no quarterback has any chance if the O-line can’t give him space. Even as you watch the NBA finals, you see players making space and therefore making time. In rugby, the greatest teams will seem to make time, but in essence they are making space, creating an illusion of time.

Of course different teams use different techniques and strategies. Clarko’s Custer is one, Warrenball, favored by Warren Gatland is another, No-huddle attempts to do the same—all replying on different approaches to achieve the same thing—space. Generally, and I will cover this in later posts, there are two broad approaches to this, using physicality or using techno-tactical ability. In almost every case the later is infinitely more successful and sustainable.

We move the players through force, the ball, or misdirection. Phillip Meilinger suggested that “John Boyd’s entire theory of the OODA Loop is based on the premise that telescoping time—arriving at decisions or locations rapidly—is the decisive element in war because of the enormous psychological strain it places on an enemy.”

Great players either find or make space for themselves to allow them the time needed to execute.

GameChanger by Fergus Connolly and Phil White is out September 2017.

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