When it comes to marking as part of possession skills, one of the probably least coached marking skills is the contested mark. However, many coaches argue that training and practising more on other marking skills like overhead and chest will prepare even junior players for contested marking. Some online training programs (like in One on One Football) and AFL skills training program sessions teach some form of contested marking.
What is considered a “contested” mark?
Any mark – one-handed, chest, overhead – that is completed while being “contested” by an opponent can be called a contested mark. The defensive measures by the opponent can be anything from raising the arms to block the receiver, boxing out the receiver using the body, to hitting the ball away before it reaches the receiver. When the receiver overcomes all opposition and succeeds in marking the ball, the mark is called “contested.”
The “decline” of contested marking
Since 2010, statisticians noticed a sharp decline in contested marking during regular matches, though there would be a slight rise during the finals. Coaches explained that players are being told to hold on to the ball as much as possible and use precision kicking and running, rather than long kicking that usually puts the ball back in dispute. The rise in contested marking in the finals is understandable because of the greater intensity and pressure of the game, wherein gained territory is preferred over possession.
Qualities of contested marking
The value of any type of contested mark remains high. The reward for a successful effort is significant as it can push the whole team to work harder. It also shifts momentum away from the opponents.
Read the flight of the ball – As with teaching marking, this is the hardest skill to coach and acquire. Because this also means knowing the types of kicks each of your teammates can execute. Kickers may also need to know the strengths of the receivers. Of course, receivers also need to outsmart the blocking opponents before even running up for the jump.
Body positioning – Gaining the best body position doesn’t necessarily mean using physical strength. It’s about shifting the defender enough to get both hands on the ball. It’s also making sure that opponents cannot hold down or block at least one of your arms.
You have two hands, the left and the right - You know your teammates, you know the flight of the ball, and you’ve out-positioned your opponents; now all you need is one clean grab with both hands. You need both hands free and apply all you’ve learned about marking in positioning your hands. Make sure to bring the ball into your chest after marking, and follow the ball with your eyes all the way to the chest.
One on One Football
One on One Football is a private AFL coaching platform that you can call anytime to enquire about one-on-one or small group football coaching sessions. They also have online training programs that you can purchase for skills and strength training. Call now on 1300 034 104, or drop a message or look around at https://www.oneononefootball.com.au/.