Squad rotation system

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A squad rotation system is a technique often used in sport, usually association football, which is designed to rest players and give playing time to everyone, rather than to just play the same players in every game. Most football (soccer) teams incorporate it in some capacity, although some managers like to build their team around it, with a squad of about twenty regular first-team players.

The central strategic significance of Squad Rotation is that it facilitates tactical adjustments depending on the opponent faced. For example, if a football team is facing another football team with superior attack, and the team is going seeking a draw or preventing a loss, the Squad Rotation system allows managers to rest the more attack-minded players and instead play a more defensive mindset to nullify the opponent attack. However, in games where for instance, goals are needed to make up goal differences in league tables, and the opponent has a weaker defence, then more attack players can find their way into the squad to facilitate higher goal scoring. Squad Rotation allows the tactical diversity, and adaptability necessary for modern day sport, which is increasingly becoming more pragmatic and less static, or fixated on an ideal of play. It allows situational change depending on opponents. However, there is a disadvantage in tactical squad rotation which is that the lack of consistency in terms of players appearing at the same time may mean that there is no general theme or style of play permeating through the team, which means that the team can often find it difficult to gel or to play in rhythm with each other after the changes, despite them being organised tactically, as the individual players in the team may not properly develop the same dynamic between themselves that a team that has been playing consistently together for a long time may have. So, in order to gain tactical awareness, playing consistency, dynamic and style is compromised, which may make tactical squad rotation more destructive than remedial. Squad Rotation best works in tandem with all the players understanding how each other plays and being able to operate within a team rhythm no matter which combination of players in a squad play at the same time, however, it is often very difficult, impractical or resource and time consuming to achieve. Also, Squad Rotation tactics may also invest heavily in versatility in terms of individual changes that they may not be able to detect when the opponents rapidly switch their own tactics through team play, especially those teams who are again used to playing with each other over a consistent period of time. The players may be only efficient in performing the designated role, but may be oblivious to switch up their play, given the lack of a central team identity which dictates switching up teamplay. This leaves a team of individual all-sorts, which may render them inefficient, disorganizd and confused, leaving opponents free to exploit through teamplay. Squad Rotation stems a lot from the philosophy of individual adjustments and managerial dynamics, in the sense of the manager choosing players for a game, and individuals being brought in to perform specific, certain roles. However, this differs from team play ideologies such as 'Total Football', where players often are able to use their ability to cover other positions, and are inherently trained to be flexible, whereas Squad Rotation invests fixed roles to individuals, and at times takes away the flexibility present in players as a result of a team play ideology by focusing on individual roles.

Advantages of a squad rotation system are that it gives everyone in it a rest, meaning that fatigue and injury is less likely. A system is also 'fairer', as more players get played than if there was a first-team line-up set in stone. Dis-advantages of the system include that the constant changing of players makes it harder for the team to gel together, and that the system can be hard to run fairly if one player does particularly well, making it therefore difficult to rotate them.

A sport or league with a high level of parity and rosters that are thin on talent does not lend itself well to squad rotation; for this reason, although it is legal in the National Football League, it is seldom used, since in that league the first string of players is usually far better than the others, and randomly inserting the backups would compromise play.

The line system is a similar concept used in ice hockey, with the exception that ice hockey allows unlimited substitutions and, as such, the rotations take place over the course of an individual game. Ice hockey teams are also known to rotate their goaltenders on a game-by-game basis, similar to the approach offered by the squad rotation system.

A famous example of a squad rotation system is the modern day setup at Chelsea F.C. and AC Milan, where there are both large squads that rotate their players heavily.

The term can also be used metaphorically to describe bands of musicians who have a changing lineup at different shows, such as the band The Fall as of 2007, and the ProjeKcts of the band King Crimson.