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Junior Wingers in Australian Football-Some Advice for Newcomers

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As a winger, your role is to be a link between the backs and forwards of your team during general play. At the centre bounce, you will act as support for your midfield either in an attacking or defensive role depending on which wing, left or right, you play.

At the centre bounces:

In junior football, most ruckmen are right handed and will tend to push the ball towards their left in the rucking contest. So this means, the right winger becomes the defensive player beginning his starting position on the square towards the back of the centre square ready to run into the square to tackle the opposition midfielder as he gets the football if his ruckman wins the rucking contest.

On the opposite wing, the winger becomes an attacking player. So this winger becomes the player that links up with the midfield by starting beside the middle the centre square. When the football is bounced, this winger should run into space into the centre square towards the centre half forward to provide a loose man for the mid fielder to feed him the football. If, instead, the football goes towards the centre half forward, then the winger should run towards that contest to shark the football off the contest pack.

If, however, your ruckman is winning the rucking contest, both wingers can take up attacking position on the side of the square ready to run into space creating an extra two loose men or two players ready to rove the contest in the forward line.

When the football is in your team’s backline:

Your task now is to become an attacker. This means you need to position yourself in space behind the halfback line ready to provide a target for your defenders. Watch the play around the football and try to anticipate where the ball will be kicked by a defender. Adjust your position on your wing to give you the best opportunity to receive the football. If your opponent is nearby, make sure you are in front of him/her and between him/her and the football. Once you get the ball you should try to turn into the centre corridor and kick long into your forward area.

When a behind is scored by the opposition, you should position yourself behind the half back line on the centre side near the boundary. As most fullbacks will kick towards the boundary, your task is to run behind the contest to rove the pack should the football be spilt behind the pack in the marking contest.

Be aware that sometimes your team mate will deliberately kick the football over the pack or your head. This means you can chase the football towards your goals making it difficult for your opponent to gather the football and turn back into attack.

When the football is going into attack from your backline:

Sometimes the half backs will kick the football past your wing position. This is where you become a support player for your half forwards. Your task is to run towards the contest to be front and centre, ready to rover the pack if the football is spilt and run on to score a goal

When the ball is in your team’s forward line:

If the football continues towards the goals without your further involvement, you need to find your direct opponent and be ready to defend.

As well you should form a defensive wall with some of your midfielders. This wall should be about a kick and a half behind the football. This means you can run forward and take a defensive mark and kick the football back into attack.

Do this quickly as there is often a loose man available because the opposition having kicked the football out of their backline were in attacking mode away from their opponents. If there is no loose man, kick to the front of the goal square or kick for goal if you are close enough to score.

Some other ideas to consider:

1. If your right foot is your preferred kicking foot, you should play on the left wing because when you turn towards the centre corridor to kick into the forward line you will kick with your preferred foot. Obviously, the opposite is true for a left footer.

2. If you get the football at the back of the pack when it is kicked in by your fullback, you will often have lots of space in front of you towards your goals. Take advantage of this by sprinting as fast as you can to get away from your opponent and run directly towards your goals. Don’t bounce the ball immediately as this will slow you down giving your opponent a chance to catch you. Instead, run your 15 metres to bounce and, if still free, continue your run, setting yourself to deliver the football deep and accurately into the forward line. You may even have the opportunity to score a goal.

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Source by Richard D Boyce
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