The debut of the Northern Mystics' defensive lifting ploy in the transtasman netball league has proved once again the value of innovative thinking in sport.

Rich reward awaits those who contrive a tactic that, even if temporarily, befuddles the opposition, as evidenced by the Auckland-based team's victory over the Melbourne Vixens, one of the competition's pacesetters. Indeed, the so-called Harrison Hoist should serve as an inspiration to coaches and players seeking to discover a winning edge.

Right now, many will be racking their brains and scouring rule books to think of a revolutionary manoeuvre that would provide a similar, and legal, advantage in their sport.

For encouragement, there are examples such as rugby's dive pass. Another is the ball-up-the-jumper trick in the same sport. It was not specifically banned when first used many years ago and was not seen to be against the spirit of the game. Popular acceptance meant variations of it still pop up around the world.


Other innovative tactics have not been so successful. The underarm delivery bowled by Australian cricketer Trevor Chappell was within the rules but breached the spirit of the game.

It was outlawed. Now it is a cautionary tale for teams that use a novel tactic without giving thought to its likely reception. That should be no deterrent. Sport is constantly evolving and there is potential for developments. The generally popular reception accorded the Harrison Hoist suggests the Mystics got things right. Hats off to them and others who follow.