Football is a chaotic and unpredictable game. Aspects such as the surface, climate, emotionality as a result of extrinsic factors (ie. opponent, referee, public, etc.) influence, in a decisive way, the “control” that the preparation process (training) intends.
If it is impossible to predict the game, training must also have a degree of plasticity that allows players to express themselves without too much behavioral rigidity. The “conductive” approach simplifies the process and can demonstrate a “big picture” of ideal behavior, however,the challenges that players will face during the game require more complex proposals that lead to constant decision making.
How to make players to develop, with regularity, the actions that the coach intends? How to guide them in a certain way without being too directive?
Manipulating the rules, manipulating time and manipulating space…
Take the following exercise as an example:
Two teams of 8v8 play on a half-pitch area. A joker, in this case a midfielder, creates numerical superiority with the team in possession.
The goal of the coach is to improve inside connections between the 1st and 2nd phase of build-up.
For this, instead of creating a situation where he defines the movements (mechanics) of the players, he promotes a game situation in which there is a lateral area through which passes are not allowed. This will lead players, especially wingers, to seek interior space when the full back on his side has the ball and also the striker will play in support.
With this rule, we also condition the playing space (not being allowed to play in an area).
The element “time” is also conditioned, because in this exercise, whenever there is a finishing situation the teams maintain their structures and the ball starts from the GK again (no set pieces). Remember, we want to work on build up actions and not in fast attacks!
One of the most important aspects of an exercise’s success is feedback. Sometimes, in an eagerness to convey all his knowledge, the coach may error in constantly giving prescriptive feedback that does not allow players to discover themselves.
In the exercise above, the coach’s initial feedback should only go to defining the field area constraint without identifying what is expected to happen.
Sometimes players create answers that even the coaches did not imagine. What they feel and what they do sometimes improves what the coach had foreseen…
We will continue to develop this theme briefly!
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