Most sports revolve around getting a goal, a point, a try, a basket - basically trying to achieve some sort of goal. Whenever this happens or doesn't happen the cameraman perks up, the news folk take note and the adoring public stop tweeting for a minute to catch the replay of the goal because the missed it because they were tweeting while they were meant to be watching the game but thought they'd be cooler if they tweeted. Lovely.
It's human nature to celebrate the achievement of whatever goal your team is chasing. The fact that sometimes more focus is driven towards a player for messing up and allowing a goal or try to be scored than the person who scored that point, shows our mindset. I don't think I'm breaking new ground here by saying that offence or attack gets more love than defence.
But defence wins you championships as they say. Good defences give a foundation from which to attack from. It's hard to win games if you're allowing your opposition to score pretty freely, you'll have to make sure your attack is on point because your gonna have to score a truck load of points to just break even. If your defence is strong you can get away with slight attacking misgivings.
Communication is pretty important in all aspects of life but in sport, communication is the meat and vege of defence. There's a reason why centre backs in football are usually the loudest and if they aren't it's because the goalie is. Being able to organise your troops is important because they are usually pre-occupied by something else so letting them know that a player is sliding behind them this way or that helps out a great deal. Being able to tell your teammates what your next move is going to be is also key, it's a whole lot easier when everyone is in the know and understands what each other is doing.
In rugby league, you generally look to the fullback to communicate what's going on. Anthony Minichello did a great job of it through his career, screaming and pointing, ensuring that the blokes in front of him get a heads up. Do we have the right numbers down the short side? Keep an eye on Thurston with Taumalolo on the inside etc. Part of being a professional sportsman is doing your homework and understanding situations, but when your 3/4 of the way through your game, the lungs are burning and your head is a mess, hearing 'Jack, watch your right shoulder mate' can ease the burden a whole lot.
When you combine communcation with the right attitude you have a pretty sound blueprint for a rough defence. Attitude, it's pretty simple - are you going to put in that extra effort? Equally important is - can you trust your team mate to do the same? It's all fine and dandy to sit in the meeting room in pre-season and discuss how you're all going to have a top shelf defensive attitude, but you need to see it in action to build the trust needed.
If you're a a left back in football and you're known for gunning up that left flank on attack, you need to see your left sided midfielder drop back and offer cover. Once you've seen that, you know that you can trust that lad and well, you'll feel like a dick if you don't do the same. If you like to get out on the fast break in basketball to get a poster dunk, you'll do that a lot more willingly if you know that your team mates are back down your end of the court ready to defend the next play. Attitude for me is trust. It's a lot easier to show the right attitude when you trust that your team mates are doing the same and both attitude and trust take a bit of time to establish.
I love defensive players. A good defensive midfielder in football is enough to distract me from the action in that game. Your eyes become fixed on where that player is positioning themselves - they're always prepared for counter attacks, they always ensure that the right numbers are back just in case and they are always willing to slow an opponents attack. Being defensive minded isn't as simple as being a rugged player, you need to add more than that. It's cool to win the ball, but what are you going to do with the ball once you've got it?
I go back to the classic - the best defence in a good offence. I don't say this in terms of holding the ball for 30 minutes and not doing anything with it, but simply using your offence to help your defence out. If you use your offence to get down the other end of the field, it doesn't really matter whether you have the ball or not because you can set up your defensive system and make it bloody tough for them to make progress.
All the developments in technology with greater access to game footage, stats, information on players is only going to add to defensive prowess. There's no excuse to not be prepared for this play or that play because it's highly likely that your opponent has done it before in that season. It's cool, defence should become a lot more interesting and we could even see defence based on the same level of imagination as attack. That'll be the day.