When I lose the ball, I know immediately and I’m pissed. So I sprint to get it back. The outcome? I get the ball, force the player to make a mistake, minimize his potential danger, or have a clear view of the run ahead of me while my teammates control the damage caused by my mistake. Order is usually restored right away.

Let’s say I lose a tackle at midfield and the guy lays it off before starting his run. He’s motivated and happy, particularly if he has a clear path to a scoring position. If I sprint next to him immediately, his teammates will see him marked tight and are less likely to give him the ball. More likely, he’ll lose motivation and stop his run, or turn it into a supporting jog behind the ball instead of a penetrating sprint. Worst case for me? They send him the ball on the run. This is only a problem if I DON’T run.

If a player loses the ball in midfield and drops his head, cries to the AR, or scowls at the ref, he might as well sit down in a cross-legged tantrum and start ripping up clumps of grass instead. It does his team no good. And if a player is that pissed, what better antidote than a fierce sprint to get possession again?

Now, imagine if all 11 players react with the same ferocity when a player loses the ball. Will their opponents have an easy game?

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