Everything is not just a matter of opinion. Let’s go beyond the box scores…
Let’s talk about the other truths:
- The probability of scoring from 40 yards, is lower than from 8 yards.
- The probability of dribbling by 1 defender is higher than dribbling by 2.
- The probability of connecting a 5 yard pass is higher than connecting a 50 yard one.
The fact these statements are based on probabilities does not take away from them being truths!
And there’s a huge amount of these in soccer.
Just because you can not precisely measure or calculate them, like say in a game of cards, doesn’t mean they don’t exist and aren’t applicable.
Help me identify a bunch of these …
I’m glad you just put this up because like most of us who read this blog you saw the Celtic v Barca game and i find it laughable and hilarious, and almost sad the way UK press is “Championing” Celtic’s win. First credit to Celtic their gameplan worked for to get that result in that particular game. And this season I’ve actually watched some Celtic matches in the Scottish league and been impressed, but let’s go further to see the probabilty of Celtic playing Barca like that 10 times and they will lose most matches. I even heard a “stuff of legends” from the commentator because they scored off a long ball, really Legends????
And this “Underdog Mentality” that is Championed and paraded around as “Greatness” is really confusing to me. This mentality is relied upon and is pretty much a philosophy which is why the UK missed Euro 2008, Scotland, Ireland, and England are woeful at development and with their national teams and why. We know with possession and penetration you can create more chances than the other team, as well as limit their chances. Thus increasing yours, but the “Underdog Mentality” relies upon your opponent being off, and your team living off scraps (2-3 chances). The Underdog is not to be confused with “Greatness”, its a means to get a result against a superior team. The Superior team looks to improve in all areas so they have the highest probable chance to win and that what Barca will keep doing. So when I see Brian Mcbride tweet this: “Barcelona needs to figure out another way to …attack…because right now teams know how to beat them.”
I think ok did they not have the better chances, again going overboard.
So what do we want to be? What do we want to Champion? And how do we become Great? Do we Champion the US Women National Team’s achievement’s as Greatness or say we have to get to work because Japan and France are already working on becoming “Great”. Do we like in 2009 overhype a Confederation Cup win against Spain, or England’s win against Spain in the buildup to Euro 2012?
I wanted to be Ali, Jordan, not Rocky.
Me I don’t want to be someone’s door mat and that’s the “TRUTH”
Truth is games like the one we saw yesterday show the truth about a soccer culture and which ones will continue on having the highest probablity to win and those who “live for nights like last night”
Which one should the US Be?
I felt like you were reading my mind! 🙂
I listened to the game in the Catalan radio station -honestly, I cannot stand the stupidity that comes out of the UK and American comentators at times-
The comentators in the Catalan radio station bring up more interesting and educated observatiosn. For example;
– Barça took 21 shots (the goal keeper stopped 11). Celtic took 4 times (3 with relevant danger). 79% of possession for Barça. Result: Celtic 2, Barca-1. “It’s not a model problem, it is a problem of mastery in the definition,” said teh comentator.
– It’s normal to loose a game, FC Barcelona lost ONE game; what is not normal is to always win everything 🙂 that what makes FC Barcelona a great team.
– Celtic won with an ugly style of soccer, a style from teh 40’s or the 30’s when Scotish football matter. They had a lot of heart and luck. That’s all.
I’m glad you brought up the Women’d Nat’l Team. They are strong and fast, but technically they are a weak team. There are a lot of pro female leagues all over the world that are years ahead of the U.S. in technique and will make an impact in the near future.
We call Celtic’s style ugly soccer, but what is it really? It’s the style of losers and teams that don’t have the intelligence or the ability to teach a style of soccer that can make them the BEST. This style of soccer destines teams and coaches to loosing systematically and winning only by the lottery.
Alec et al,
The sad thing is that many soccer coaches teach this crap to players as young as 10 and as high as national pool levels (ODP).
I wish a had a dollar for everytime my coaches and I have played teams with our modern style (tiki-taka) and all the other coaches do is out 9 kids in the back (or 8 or 6, depending on the age group) so they can hopefully score on a rebound…it’s patethic to see coaches that are as high level as Regional ODP coaches do this at ages U10-U14. The worst part is that the parents love it -the times when they manage to score on a more technical team- and go as far a cheering “yeahh we’re the best” The best at what? shitting all over the sport? It’s crazy, these people pay a wag load of money not only on club fees but on private classes with these so called “high level coaches” for what ? to learn this? it’s sad that so many kids and families miss out on valuable sports education. I have also seen coaches at ODP regional tournaments and camps play down when the faces the suppossed “stronger states.” instead of allowing the players to be free thinkers and play a more fluid game, they set up 6-1-1 drawing in hope of survival…many times with players that get overlooked because they cannot show their skills in this ridiculus defensive style, in what it was created to be a developmental program…well, enough complaining from me 🙂
Oh man… dont get me started on ODP….
Kephern, that is one of, if not the best post I’ve ever read in this blog. Perfectly stated how the real mentality of the typical British/American soccer person, even high up the chain get truly exposed by these once in a blue moon results.
I believe there is actual scientific research that concluded that soccer has more upsets than any other major sport. Of course the major contributing factor is the small number of scores, which contributes to the “luck”. That said, it looked like Celtic followed the basic Chelsea gameplan against Barça (i.e., narrow Bunker, and counter/set play). Remarkably, credit for this approach is often given to Bob Bradley’s approach to the 2-0 win over Spain.
Barça didn’t do a good job of adjusting to these tactics and modifying its approach to unravel the bunker. To me this seemed like a game where Fabregas would have been a much better choice because of the creative directness and late runs. Perhaps a back three would have also been better, but the lack of Busquets left Barça with a suboptimal lineup and limited choices more severely. I think he is much more vital than the lack of the two regular center backs.
John Pranjic says
I’ll start with my opinion- I’ve said this before, and I think Gary or someone else has said it here on the blog as well, but sometimes I wish a team would just stop and juggle. Barcelona, and other possession based teams, get so much heat for ‘possessing’ and never doing ‘anything’ with the ball. Well fuck, the other team isn’t doing anything with the ball either! That would expose how ugly and boring their opponents really are. That would expose ‘anti’ football! That would give the UK media something to talk about.
Okay… time for my truths.
I listened to a former Chelsea player talk about Bayern Munich and Barcelona and how easy it is for teams to defend against them. He said they have to stand and watch. He said its more tiring for the team with the ball because they’re the ones doing all of the running. Hence the term, parking the bus. They park, and don’t move because…
The probability of scoring a goal against an organized defense is lower than scoring against unorganized defense.
This is true, and most obvious, in transition. Teams take advantage of their opponents being unorganized as they switch from offense to defense. How does a team minimize the amount of times they will be a in vulnerable state? Park the bus. They limit the amount of times that they are in full transition.
The probability of winning a game is lower if the other team takes more shots on your goal than you do on theirs.
So, going back to Kephs stats and Alec’s follow up comments… it’s a gamble. It’s a gamble that isn’t much of a risk for Celtic because they are expected to lose against Barcelona. But that kind of a gamble, an all out defensive effort, is a gamble with extremely high reward if it does work.
Not sure if anyone has said this yet…
The probability of a team winning every single game is very low.
The probably of a team winning the same major tournament twice in a row (four years apart) is very low.
The probability of a team winning two different major tournaments in a row (both four years apart) is even lower.
Who wants to gamble?
Gary Kleiban says
These two seem fundamental:
“The probability of scoring a goal against an organized defense is lower than scoring against unorganized defense.”
“The probability of winning a game is lower if the other team takes more shots on your goal than you do on theirs.”
The others we need to clean up with more precise language.
Don’t like more shots…is a punt GK to GK a shot??
Prefer goal scoring opportunities…I know it’s “harder” to define 🙂
John Pranjic says
Tim Howard scoring from his own box… to win the game… argue with him about that one Nuno. Ha! The other ones… hmmm… specific…
Spain winning two consecutive Euro Cups was highly unlikely from a mathematical standpoint?
Can someone call the guys from Soccernomics? They’d have a field day with this.
See, always a chance to get something unlikely when you watch Everton…goals from GK’s, Croatian strikers staring
Just would count on its statistics probabilities to win me soccer matches…GK scoring from own half that is 🙂
John Pranjic says
At a 1:40ish watch the guy stop and put his hands on his hips. Thoughts?
Gary Kleiban says
It’s a telling sign of a great culture and good work being done.
John Pranjic says
I knew I had seen it on here before! I remember loving that the first time I read it. Makes me smile reading it again.
El Memo says
Truth: Playing a whole game defensively (Parking the Bus) is conceding the other team is superior.
Truth: Being the superior team does not mean you will win.
Truth: Futbol is The Great Equalizer Sport.
Example: In basketball you can make a basket from distance, but need play consistently to win. In soccer you just need to capitalize on one chance and play crap futbol (park the bus) the rest of the game to win. Note there is certainly a science to defending and that has to be appreciated. I am talking about it being a style.
Truth: Humans rather win than be superior (The better team.).
If you win you are always rewarded if you are superior sometimes you are not.
pg 19 says
Probability of keeping the ball along your back line and flanks is higher than the center of the field as there are less “blind” areas to which an opponent may try to intercept a pass or attempt a tackle.
True. Unless the other team collectively presses the back line. That forces the defenders to be able to essentially play with the skill and intelligence of midfielders.
Which is why competent defenders also need to have excellent control and passing ability.
Juan de Dios says
Ok, so many people talk about how Celtic played vs Barça using Chelsea’s “tactics”, to me is still sacrificing the game…while you can win one game like that…you still in the long run, don’t have NOTHING, Barcelona is faithful to their philosophy because they have prove that it works over and over again…Its more likely to win games with that Philosophy than with the “bunker” defense…
The soccer ball does not get tired.
If we have the ball then the other team does not score.
Most anyone on earth can kick a soccer ball, but to make the right pass takes soccer IQ.
pg 19 says
A series of short passes will require the opponent to run more than you do comparative to a single long pass to which both teams must run to get to the ball and/or to support it relative to an attack or defending against it.
pg 19 says
A 2 to 3 touch pass will have a higher probability to entice the chase of an opponent after the ball than a one touch pass.
A one touch pass has a higher probability if being improperly played than a 2 to 3 touch pass.
A well executed one touch pass has a higher probability of catching a defender out of position (relative to body and relative to field).
Jason S. says
This is a great topic because it should result in a list of truths that the youngest of players can understand and hopefully incorporate into their game.
More “Other” Truths:
The probablility of the other team scoring when they don’t have possession is less than when they have possession (Slightly sarcastic, I know. But what would it look like if players really (REALLY!!) bought into this? Answer: It would look like Barca)
The probability of a having a first touch that allows a player to avoid pressure and maintain possession is greater when recieving a short pass served on the ground, than it is when receiving a long pass served in the air (this has numerous applications…punts, long goal kicks, etc.).
The probability of keeping possession is greater when the team in possession makes the field big (uses all the space) than when it makes the field small.
The probability of regaining possession is greater when the team not in possession urgently makes the field small after losing possession (quickly compresses around the ball with high pressure), than when the opponent is given the time and space to spread the field and make it big.
The probability of maintaining possession is greater when you go away from pressure than when you go into it.
The probabliity of scoring is greater with “numbers up” than it is with “numbers down.”
The probability of self-generating scoring chances off the dribble is less than generating scoring chances through combination play.
The probability of a single player getting around an opponent and attacking the space behind him is less than two players combining to do the same thing.
Truth. The ball moves faster than the player.
But the (exceptional) player thinks faster than the ball moves!
pg 19 says
Going to use the 2nd comment there Hall97. Like it.
Of all the “truths” posted, I like this one the best! “The exceptional player thinks faster than the ball moves” And if he has great skill and tactical awareness, you got a true talent!
That made me smile for a second, then the reality that in USA, they don’t give a shit! Nonetheless, great post Hall. It’s a truth but our reality is a nightmare.
More possession is worthless if you can’t break down a defense.
el millo says
yea but it looks good
Though the topic of Celtic Barca is a great one, the fact of Truths was the intent, so now we are getting somewhere, good or bad, lets look at these truths and work through them….. Great topic Gary…..
Truth: good player communication increases your chances of properly executing a game plan on the field.
Truth: the coaches do the coaching, the players do the playing. The in game result is a product of what is practiced and emphasized during the week. (properly talking to players coming off the bench or on to the bench is a vital part of in game success)
The superior team will create more “quality chances” than the inferior team, but the superior team will not always win the game.
Eli Banana says
-If a team scores zero goals in a game, it cannot win.
-If a team scores one goal in a game, there is about a 50% chance it will not lose
– If a team scores two goals in a game, there is about a 75% chance it will not lose
– If a team scores three goals in a game, it will rarely lose
– The team that scores more goals wins the game
– An Attacking brand of soccer produces more wins
Possession soccer produces more wins over time vs. Attacking brand of soccer
It takes 1 more goal than the other team to win the game
Eli not sure you posted truths, the first one is a truth and the fifth is a truth, the others may or may not be truths
Possession and attacking principles should be combined, much different than Attacking brand of soccer
Possession soccer by itself does not produce more wins. Possession for the sake of possession doesn’t work. You have to have the ability to break down defenses and score.
Should not have said (and), should be Possession with correct attacking principles
Eli Banana says
Possession = Attacking soccer
If my team takes two passes to score a goal or ten passes, is the result not the same?
If my outside midfielder has to play the ball back to a defender who then needs to play it across the field to the other defenders who then plays to the midfielder who feeds the striker or executes a give and go which leads to a finishing chance, how is that any different than my striker who recognizes a chance to make a penetrating run and receives a long pass from a mid or defender which results in a finishing chance. Don’t get me wrong, I love possession but there is more than one way to skin a cat.
Eli take a month of your life and invest the time, find The Gold Standard
So if Iniesta has the choice of putting Messi through on goal or starting a 20 pass sequence, what do you think he would do?. If it’s a high probability opportunity, and not just a hit and hope 1 in a 100 chance, there is nothing wrong with going straight to goal. Mourinho certainly has no issue with it
Agreed. A direct approach shouldn’t be discounted. I’ve seen a number of times barcelona would take only 3 or 4 passes from defensive third to shot on goal. If it is any team outside of Barcelona, you’d here “there they go again, no possession, just direct ball”, but in the cases where it is, you here “look how quickly they possess the ball up the field to generate goal scoring opportunities”.
In my opinion, if possession is maintained, is that not the same as the 20 pass sequence, just didn’t take as long to generate an opportunity?
yeah this is silly, Barcelona possesses like it does because their opponents sit back and play deep. They would play faster if it opened a good opportunity.
It’s funny that you mention the phrase “Skinning the cat”. Let’s take that phrase a bit further…skinning a cat requires a butcher and a knife. Anyone can call him/herself a butcher by getting a knife and putting on a white apron and sitting in the backroom of a butcher shop. Let’s say we have two “Butcher’s”. The first “butcher” has a philosophy that it doesn’t matter how I do it as long as in the end I can present a cat that has no skin left. This person will make a complete mess of things in the process, however, will still come out with a skinned cat. A skilled butcher using artistry and the caressing touch of his knife will present a quality, amazingly accurate skinned cat that, people will marvel at the pristine cuts and quality of craftsmanship if they recognize the work of a great butcher. Now put a time limit on each butcher to produce a skinned cat, say 90 minutes. Perhaps the first butcher can finish his job in 3 minutes or 10 minutes or 50 minutes, or finish 2 to 3 cats in that time span. The skilled butcher may, on very few occasions, actually run out of time and not complete the full job of one skinned cat in 90 minutes. Many people would say that butcher has failed. What do you say? Which butcher would you rather watch in action? Which butcher would you rather learn from and emulate if you yourself were training to be a butcher?
Possession is not Attacking soccer. Possession is possession. It’s holding on to the ball. The teams that can possess the ball AND execute an attacking plan are the ones that, over the long haul, will win because they can generate more genuine chances at scoring. There are teams that possess the ball but don’t have the creativity or technical ability to break down a defense. Unfortunately, kick and run can generate plenty of scoring opportunities which is why teams still win with that style of play.
I’m confused why people compartmentalize possession and attacking styles.
Barcelona and Spain play an modern attacking style of football and rely heavily on the idea that having the ball gives you more chances of winning.
I don’t see how one can be a student of Catalan style of football and separate the two concepts.
Have you not seen Barcelona, and Spain put 5-0 beatings on teams?
How can you not call that an attacking style.
Matbe is a semantics issue, but in Spain this is an attacking style.
Because some teams possess the ball but don’t really attack. They just knock it around then lack any creativity and just hoof it in the box. Likewise, there are attacking styles that don’t rely on possession. Long balls, speed down the wings, most of the EPL…
Just because Barca and Spain utilize possession and attacking styles does not automagically make them one in the same.
The probability of controlling the ball by the receiving player increases if the pass is made on the ground rather than in the air.
Dr Loco says
The probability of shooting is low.
The probability of dribbling is higher than shooting.
The probability of passing is higher than dribbling.
The probability of moving is higher than passing.
Dr Loco says
Here is a shocker for youth coaches U14 and under. Only focus on moving and passing during your limited training sessions. Dribbling and shooting are individual skills that should be worked on outside of scheduled team practices. The probability of developing better players and playing a beautiful game are much higher.
The shortest route to goal is usually the path of greatest resistance
Eli Banana says
Here’s a good one-
Most of you have no idea what you are talking about
That’s the beauty of high order questions (and perhaps the purpose of this one?)… it gives us all a chance to show how much we don’t know 🙂
Saying “PASS IT INTO SPACE!!!” instead of “SEND IT!!!” means you’re coaching possession instead of jungleball 🙂
True, but I’ve heard coaches yell send it into space…behind the defense from the defenders! Just sayin…
Finding space is good….Finding the right space is better….finding space that leaves defenders thinking “Oh, Shit” when you receive the ball is best.
Juan de Dios says
passing it to your teammate in one touch to their right foot at the right time is even better 😉
Eli it has been 3 hours and everyone here does not know what they are talking about, you have 29 days and 21 hours left my friend
Truth- this site is not for everyone, and most will not get it, nor can understand it
Juan de Dios says
Iniesta putting Messi through has been created through Possession
Kg, we are talking about a style of play, not the actual act of possessing the ball. Of course, without the ball you can attain nothing.
Your probabilities are right in line with how I try to get my teams to think. ie. The other team is inevitably going to shoot, BUT, they’re probably of scoring off those shots can be dictated by the shots we give them. Meaning, if we can limit their shots to 30 and out, chances are they won’t score. If we allow them closer our probability of a shut out goes down.
I try and teach my players that this game can be broken down into percentages. I always ask them, “In this scenario, can you make a blind, back heel pass?, Yes, but what gives us a higher percentage of successful possession, the highlight reel pass or opening your body up and playing the ball with the technique that gives you a higher chance of success?” So, where I don’t necessarily discourage the creativity (sometimes it’s necessary), I remind them that there is always a place to encourage creativity, but in the over all picture our goal is to play soccer and we want to focus on executing with higher probabilities so that this soccer is successful.
Now before everyone starts attacking me for my “don’t be creative” sounding approach, let me ease your minds. As the players get more comfortable on the ball, the ‘highlight reel’ pass would become just as probably as the ‘sure thing’ pass, thus having no difference. Until then, we encourage the higher percentage approach.
coach juggles says
If you are a European coach your chances of competing in champions league are lesser if you have an American on your team.
Just to make it more fun – here is an old (about year 1995-2000) truth: most goals are scored after 1 or 0 passes.
Does anybody know if this is still true (I am sure it is)? And more interestingly, does anybody has the same statistics for Barca (let’s say 2008-2012)? Would be interesting to look and compare with other teams.
Tolya, I believe that stat was based on the EPL. My college coach used to preach that stat (1990-93) and he coached accordingly. Suffice to say I didn’t learn a lot of soccer from those days. Perhaps someone can find the research that came up with this stat.
Coachjuggles, I think you right – I remember it from one British DVD. I think they analyzed mainly EPL and world cup. I wonder if this has changed significantly. Somehow think that if we take all games from last season EPL or La Liga this still will be true – majority of goals are scored from one to zero passes. This might not be true for few teams – would be interesting to see this.
John Pranjic says
I remember seeing something that goals that are scored in transition are usually scored within three seconds and cover some ridiculous amount of the field. I was shocked, but then watched some highlights and was like… hmmm…. its true. One or two passes spanning 50+ yards in very little time.
That is my point, the style of play
Kg, then that’s not a truth. There could be numerous reasons why Iniesta put a through ball to Messi. In fact, I’d say it has zero to do with Possession style soccer and all about the creativity/vision/speed/technical ability of the two players and/or lack of proper defending.
I complete understand your point and agree with you 100%, the idea of connecting a purpose pass, and not banging the ball forward is what I am saying, which I am sure you can agree is called possession. A purpose penatrating pass is perfect at times, which is created by having the ball, I would also say that there is truth to the fact that Barca plays goals are scored through building possession than hitting one pass that puts Messi in, the genius is how Messi floats away from the play, always looking for the run in from the holding forward position….. But again I hope you can see we both are on the same page…..
While I agree we are on the same page, I don’t think we are at the same paragraph. 😉 Your answer lies in what you wrote but I think you are missing it by relying too heavily on the concept of possession. ‘the genius is how Messi floats away from the play, always…’ couple that with the brilliance of *insert any midfielder from Barca* and you have the reason why Barca are so good. Without those levels of players you’d just have a bunch of short footballers banging the ball around and unable to score. Possession soccer works for Barca because they have the quality to put enough shots on target while doing so. Other teams attempt possession soccer but don’t have the quality to finish. Thus, possession soccer, by itself, is not a winning formula. I would agree, though, that possession soccer in theory should provide the most opportunities, not shots, but opportunities.
Barca breaks historic possession records and loses match:
I know it’s a truism but their game model is clearly toasted
Juan de Dios says
Not really it’s only one game, when you see this happening for 10 games in a row, then I will say their game is toasted.. they are at first place in La Liga,..
Juan, Barca’s model is not over by any means (I was trying to be sarcastic without much sucess)
On the subject of truths, I think that there are priciples, believes that you develop, that inform your philosopy and that you try to convey to your players and teams.
A key concept is the ability to read the game and makes the “right” decisions individualy and as a team
What the right decision is depends on each specific circumstance…for example, yes keeping the ball on the ground is a VERY principle for me in general, but there are situations where lifting the ball might give you a better probability of sucess, sometimes you might even play a couple of long balls with the purpose of creating a better scenario to play your passing game. Same thing with long range shooting and do on
A player and coach’s ability to work out all these details are one of the main traits of quality…and frankly where a coach’s priorities lay, this is an art after all
Juan de Dios says
I agree, that is where the players common sense comes in handy…Not all the balls can be played on the ground or by long shots, I think the most important thing is teach the players to “read” the game, “learn” were to be on the field, to run less but be more effective for example…
Juan de Dios says
From the Master:“If you play on possession, you don’t have to defend, because there’s only one ball”
Juan de Dios says
“If you want to play quicker you can start running faster, but it’s the ball that decides the speed of the game.”
Gary, I’ll use your sentence structure and hopefully add to your list.
•The probability of developing high level technical skills increases the more you practice with the ball at your feet
•The probability of scoring in 18-yard box is much higher than outside the box
•The probability of developing soccer playing dummies and thugs is higher when Route 1 soccer is taught
•The better prepared you are, the higher your probability of winning
•The probability of dribbling from mid-field and scoring is far less than scoring from a give and go inside the box
•The probability and consequence of a defensive mistake is greater when you pass and move quickly inside the box
•The probability of developing thugs and dummies increases the further west of Europe you travel
•The probability of developing soccer thugs and dummies increases when you name your child Bubba instead of Javier
•The probability of developing soccer thugs and dummies increases when you grow up watching NFL instead of EPL
•The probability of keeping possession increases as you limit touches
•The probability of understanding the game increases as you look less at the ball and more at what’s going on around you
•The probability of being a play ahead of your opponent increases when you look for ques
•Keeping the ball on the pitch increases the probability of maintaining possession
•Keeping the ball in the air increases chances of playing jungle ball
•Keeping the ball for 5 or more passing sequences limits opportunity for opponents
•Keeping the ball 5 or more passing sequences increases probability of keeping opponents in their defensive third
•Keeping the ball 5 or more passing sequences allows your team’s defense to push higher up the pitch
•Keeping the ball 5 or more passing sequences increases probability of winning the ball in more advanced position should you lose it
•The probability of tiring your opponent increases the more you keep possession
•The probability of maintaining possession increases as you build from the back
•The probability of losing the ball increases with long-balls from the back
•The probability of getting beat by a fast break increases when you play long-balls out the back
•The probability of a lone striker scoring against four defenders from a long-ball is significantly lower than scoring as a team by passing and moving
•Players that have better tactical awareness, great technique, and can think quickly have higher probability of being world class players
•The odds favor smart players over dumb players
•The odds favor a smart team over a dumb team
•Odds are elite players have superior game intelligence
•Odds are average players have average game intelligence
•Odds favor a bad coach having a bad team
•Odds favor a good coach having a good team
•The probability of pushing US Soccer to the next level increases as we improve coaching
•Odds do NOT favor US Soccer going to the next level via the yard stick, a scale, or early puberty
•The probability of developing a top player based solely on size and power is much lower than developing one based on skill, technique, awareness, game understanding
•The probability of developing top-class players with skill and ability is significantly decreased when no one looks for it
Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay further west of Europe 🙂
I said west, not southwest 🙂
Tolya, that stat about scoring was never true. it was based on flawed data analysis that didn’t account for dead balls (truth- you are more likely to get free kicks in dangerous areas the longer you possess the ball in the attacking third) or takeaways (truth: you are more likely to get takeaways in dangerous areas if you posses the ball more in dangerous areas). Barca I think gets quite a few quick takeaways and goals, but its because they have already distorted the defense with their possession game so even a turnover can lead to good things happening. By the time the other team has run all over to defend, they don’t have the shape to attack efficiently.
Actual modern statistics finds that the probability of a goal goes up with increased # of passes and possession in the middle and attacking third, and especially through that danger area at the top of the box. We don’t have to rely on Cruyff’s intuitive faith in possession- we have plenty of hard probability studies that back up the effectiveness of possession soccer.
Here is a fine analysis showing the very strong value of possession in the EPL:
– The probability of regaining possession is increased if your players press immediately after losing possession and denying the opposition space and time to think.
– The probability of making a good defensive play is increased if your player contains his attacker instead of him over-committing to steal the ball.
– The probability of a player making an intelligent choice is increased if he has situational awareness before receiving the ball.
– The probability of scoring a goal by a composed accurate finish is higher than by blasting the ball at the goal with hopes it will go in.
– The probability of you being a great coach is increased of you are a Barcelona fan (kidding…or am I?).
– The probability of developing quality players is increased if you initially select players with technical ability and soccer intelligence.
– The probability of you being a great coach is not increased by earning a coaching license.
– The probability of you being a great coach is not increased because you have a foreign accent.
– The probability of you being a great coach/technical director/director of coaching at a club is not increased because you have coached/played at a high level (college, ODP, etc) in the US.
– The probability of a player becoming great is increased if he has a great coach.
– The probability of maintaining possession is increased by playing efficient ground passes instead of sloppy passes which force the receiving player into make unnecessary adjustments to control the ball.
– The probability of the US developing great players from an early age can be increased by focusing on the development of technical skills and game intelligence instead of focusing on winning.
– The probability of breaking the status quo is decreased if you are too much of a pussy to speak your mind about what is fucked up about a situation.
– The probability of… ahhh fuck it, I’m done.
Soccer Purist says
Been thinking about this a lot since you brought it up on my blog. Have a lot to say on the matter but its late. For now, and this is getting philosophical, we will have to define truth. Probabilities are not truths simply because regardless of how strong or weak the probability there is always the chance that the opposite may happen. Are probabilities useful and applicable to our understanding of the game? absolutely, but they do not constitute truth based on my definition of it.
In the end these probabilities have led us both to the same conclusions so we may simply be arguing semantics
Gary Kleiban says
The probability of drawing an Ace from a 52 card deck is 4/52.
That is a truth.
Are the 3 statements I gave true?
Your 3 statements are sufficiently true in general, so that they are important and useful in providing guidelines to a game model
They are not true in several specific game situations depending on details, or also depending on the situation the best decision might run against the principles derived from them
They are solid “truths” that lead to very important guidelines, but.. 🙂
Gary Kleiban says
The 3 statements are generalized. Meaning, they account for the infinite number of scenarios.
I didn’t say they weren’t
Just that the practical wisdom, application depends on the situation
BTW, people should appreciate not only the thought that Gary has obviously put on this, but also the cojones needed to put some of your truths out there…that says a lot on itself
Just think about it…do you know the “truths” that guide some of the high profile coaches in the US?
Gary Kleiban says
On thought …
That’s why I ended the post with:
While everyone’s contributions help stimulate the process, there’s a lot of opinions and imprecision in statements being made – not fundamental truths.
Who decides what is a fundamental truth?
Gary Kleiban says
If we’re going to get all existential, and talk about whether you or I ‘truly’ exist, we might as well just shut everything down.
That’s the point man…I want to figure out principles that help us out there…and how and when
At the professional level, those who compile the league tables
– “possession” style has proven to be the best… for now.
– If all styles are the same then there is no variety… boring.
Get America and MLS to rule the soccer world using the ugly jungle style you all love… Perhaps not probable but possible. It is nice to see the two extremes up against one another.
Using a proven product is going to be the most effective way to win but Sinatra said it best in his song “My Way”. Prove another product can can consistently win and things might change. I would hope all would still hold true to there style of play.
Devil’s “Jungle” Truths – probabilities can go both ways.
– The probability of defending a goal increases when you clear the ball.
-The probability of scoring a goal increases when you boot the ball closer to your opponents goal.
Variety is good!
Sounds like what Anson Dorrance was preaching with UNC early on, then he has changed his mind about he women’s game recently, which is evident by what we have seen out of his team lately, still uses a combo of the two, but also he has not been on top much lately either, I can say this is why I have changed for sure, the evidence of keeping the ball is a strong one!
Soccer Purist, you are arguing probabilities with a Physicist (as I remember that is his day job) and quantum physics-the rules of nature- are basically probabilistic.
Rivelino, I am very familiar wth Gary’s background perhaps moreso than most here. But truth lays in the philosophical realm. Fact lays in the scientific realm. Subtle difference but a big one. Again, this may all be arguing semantics but I find the distinction between truth and fact signifcant.
Soccer (playing, coaching) is an art, not a science
Never did I call soccer a science because I agree wholeheartedly that soccer is an art. With that said, is there tuth in art? I would say no.
Is there really such a thing as pure science? Pure art? Always some subjectivity or assumptions to science. Always some rules and truths in art. I’d say soccer is 10-20% art (creativity, cunning, etc.). But in top level soccer, not much room for unabridged art. Even a team that is seemingly as free flowing as Barca is in fact carefully orchestrated. Indiviudal skill on a particular play may be art, but those moments are few in a game wherre most players have the ball 2-mins at most.
Ballet is very carefully orchestrated 🙂
Sport is sport…soccer is soccer…it uses science tools but it is not a science…Actually the best metaphor for sports would be war…soccer being closer to guerrila, than conventional war…so something like the art of guerrila would fit soccer war…think of Mourinho as a VERY successful mercenary…Barca would be a small nation fighting the noble fight against the powerful oppressor…wait a second they are 🙂
the Kleibans are like the geniuses that will deliver our secret weapon…we hope
Sorry, ballet is much more palatable isn’t it?
Can you get some “truths” from this American soccer master?
More “truth” in 3 minutes than some will ever find in a lifetime:
Disclosure: this was an opinion, but chances are that I am right 🙂
John Pranjic says
This link doesn’t take me to anything, Nuno?
Try this one:
I was sitting in a meeting at work regarding system design. The speaker said “it’s harder to fix a problem after it’s developed”. Being an engineer, I’ve known that for years. I was bored and thinking about soccer. It dawned on me that US Soccer has a “system” in place, which I’m calling the USMNT.
In my line of work, we work hard to engineer quality up front. Before developing a system, we do what’s called a Gap Analysis. Basically, find fault with current system then design solutions the market will prefer. The market is constantly changing, so we need to be always on our toes, flexible, willing to adapt.
I’m not convinced USSF thinks like this? Think of a production line (which is exactly what the path from U8 – USMNT is). You cannot change that “system” or “end product” wholesale. The process is iterative. And before you iterate, you must know what you need to fix.
Fixing things mid-stream (say U15 in soccer) has less impact than if you do it at U8. “The earlier in the process you make change, the more impact it has.” Or stated how Gary wrote this thread, the probability of making significant change is greater the earlier in the development process you make it.”
So obviously coaching is critical. In fact, crap coaching at U8 – U12 will almost for sure ruin it for promising starlets. Crap clubs will ruin it. Crap ODP player selection ruins it. Crap college programs ruin it. And crap MLS ruins it. This is the lifecycle of American soccer players. It’s already hard enough for promising players to become a pro, but so much crap to avoid on that path. This is exactly why a soccer development education in SA or Europe is so superior.
This is a Soccer Truth that hurts!
A simple analogy, but far reaching affects for US Soccer. This is exactly what Barcelona did when Laureano Ruiz laid the ground-work back in early 1970s.
I truly enjoyed your comment. I work as a consultant for startegic planning and change management. I applied the same development concepts when I became involved in the planning of a soccer school. This chools was based with the motto “education, Development and Values over winnin” with the idea that, if we taught correctly, the wins would come; and they did. But more importantly, our program has developed players that have moved on to bigger and better things both in the U.S. and in Europe. The hardest thing was finding high quality coaches that would not think that teaching U8-U11 was below them; and finding coaches that were interested in molding kids into talented players instead of using players as chest pieces to win games.
It made us laugh when a few years later, US Soccer came out with their “new and revolutionary” curriculum with the intention of promoting development over winning…they spent so much money on research to do something we were able to successfully implement with common sense and a small budget.
I think the biggest problem is that the system it’s rotten to the core with old ideas and a corrosion of conformity that doesn’t allow growth.
Soccer sciences looking for truth
The attack phase in football: empirical evidence from the tactical point of view
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Author (s): Joaquin Lake Ballesteros
Entities (s): University of Vigo
Congress: II International Congress on Sport Sciences
Keywords: Football, tactics, attack, literature review
SUMMARY COMMUNICATION / POSTER
In the last two decades there has been a proliferation of studies that have sought football understanding the functioning of the teams during the game. Most of these studies have focused mainly on the analysis of the attack phase. The tactical knowledge contained in them still remains dispersed. With the aim of contributing to the improvement of performance practice in football, especially in the aspects related to the design of tasks for training and strategic decision-making tactics during the competition, this work is done in a synthesis Empirical evidence contained in the aforementioned literature. In it, we first review the variables that have been used as a synonym for offensive success and subsequently review the interrelationships with various aspects including space, time and mode of the game.
Concerns about scientific knowledge on performance tactical dimension in football begins in the mid eighties of the last century. By then, the researchers found that studies so far focused on the dimensions and technical parole and were characterized by predominantly quantitative in nature, with the result that the conclusions presented insufficient contextual relevance and therefore, of little relevance and utility (Gorge, 1997). In response to this situation, in the last two decades there has been a proliferation of studies that have sought the objectification of the dominant traits of the game, the understanding of how teams in solving the dual problem of co-opposition. Thus, the interest moves progressively from the execution, the shape of the movement, to the decision, the intentions and meanings denoting behavior. The question no longer: How much a player runs, and at what intensity, during a match? How many passes, dribbles, shots, and with what level of effectiveness, a player runs during competition and what action collective effort and mastery Technical correlate with the victory?, etc., and become: What makes the effort footballer? What seeks the athlete when you make a pass, dribble or shot How can the player to the goal collective what criteria govern the organization of the teams? What collective behaviors are more often associated with obtaining success?, etc.
Most of the research that has taken a strategic and tactical view has set itself the objective inquiry into the behavior of teams during the attack but the knowledge gained, even today, remains sparse. Literature reviews, either in the form of books or articles that have compiled these works are raised mainly for the purpose of organizing the knowledge produced about the methods and analysis techniques (Carling, Williams and Reilly, 2005; Throat, 2000 , Hughes, 2003, Hughes and Franks, 2004a, 2004b; Lake, 2007, and McGarry and Franks, 2003) and on the development of theoretical models for the exploration of the game (Gorge, 1997, 1998 and Hughes, 2004). That is, they seek to serve as a basis for improving research practice. This merit, however, becomes default if you look at it from the perspective of technical (mainly coaches and trainers), as the empirical evidence provided by different analysis, and that could lead to implications for intervention in training , are reduced its impact in this area considerably to be deselected. This disregard for the professional performance of those leading the process performance directly, it strikes especially in the plot concerns the design of tasks and strategic decision-making tactics that in the absence of objective data, are currently based on intuitions and opinions from experience. An improvement in this direction could lead to an improvement in the ability of the equipment to meet the various demands made, at all times, the agonistic activity and that is why we find it convenient synthesis processing, which follow. Success in the attack phase.
The primary concern that has been guiding the research momentum on attack phase in football is the degree of efficiency or productivity offered by different collective offensive behavior. To enable this type of analysis, it is necessary to conceptualize what constitutes success in attacker activity. The first indicator of success that has been used is obviously the goal, appreciating the fact that it is a rare event justifies the importance that is given and clearly identifies football within the contemporary sport (Abt, Dikson and Mummery, 2002), as distinct from other collective sports games such as basketball and handball, by determining a predominance of the defense on the attack (Dufour, 1989). Currently the average frequency of annotation is stabilized around values close to 2.6 goals per game, something that has been documented in the national leagues of different countries and also in the final stages of World Cups (Casals and Lake, 2006 ; Throat, 1997; Grehaigne 1998; Lanham, 1993 and Mombaerts, 2000). Also, Mombaerts (2000) notes that the achievement of a goal determines both the outcome of a match if a team manages, owns a 30% chance of winning, 40% to tie, and the remaining 30% lose. And, if achieved two goals, the probability of the win amounts to 70%, the tie is reduced to 21% and losing has a value of only 8%. All these data illustrate the importance of an objective analysis of the patterns of achievement of goals, so they can be clarified the factors that ultimately lead to success in the game (Abt et al -2002 -). However, Lanham (2005) warns that the fact score is based on all previous collective behavior and the results of it, so that it is only the tip of the iceberg.
Lanham himself (1993, 2005) supports this metaphor to find required an average of 182 possessions, of which 90 with a deviation of 10% up or down are to reach the third striker pitch for a team to get a goal. Also Bate (1988) believes that penetrate the attacking third of the pitch is synonymous with success. Meanwhile, Dufour (1993) provides a slightly less demanding figures so that the 1% of the attacks would end in a goal in the 10% achieved an auction and 90% of the attacks end with no shot on goal. In view of this, rely solely on offensive actions ending in goal for the study of achieving success in the attack phase could lead to an incomplete understanding of the performance. Decreasing our level of demand regarding the collective thrust, we could accept a pitch denoted achieve the same accuracy. Following this line of thought we find that 45% of the shots would be diverted or blocked by a defender, as many would be led out of the goal and between 8-12% would result in a goal (Dufour, 1993). In other words, on average needed 10 pitches to get the ball into the goal (Hughes and Churchill, 2005, and Reep and Benjamin, 1968). However, the number of shots required to achieve a particular goal in a game there is a stochastic component, indicating that a larger number of launches by any of the equipment does not imply the impossibility, by chance, the other team scores more goals and then win the match (Dufour, 1993 and Luhtanen, 1993). This has led some authors to claim that the game is dominated by chance and can build a strategy that will lead to success maximizing the elements that relate to the lot.
Lake (2005) extends the study of the influence of luck on getting wins and losses in football. Their empirical results suggest that chance may be relevant to explain the results of the teams in a single game, or a very limited number of them, but after a certain amount of games get more pitches to make the opponent is regularly factor to account for the points that reach the sets in a competition with league format. This leads us to think that chance, if necessary, is never alone and not the whole (Morin, 1995). Indeed, what some authors call luck could not be more than a better ability to finish by the winning team. Moreover, it would also be possible that the key factor in realizing the goals were not shooting in both the number of shots, or the ability to end but quality scoring chances generated (Ensum, Pollard and Taylor, 2005) . Or maybe all these factors are important. After a goal and shoots, arrivals to third attacker would also be an indicator of success in the offensive activity because, as Bate (1988), the higher the number the better the chances of: i) achieving ball situations in that area, ii) recovering the ball in that area, iii) create a shooting opportunity on goal, and iv) reducing the number of times the opposing team reaches our defensive third. Luhtanen (1993), this criterion applies only analyzing those sequences reaching offensive attacking third of the field in 47 games of the finals of the 1990 World Cup, and found that: 69% of them achieved action pieces in favor, 28% ended with a shot and 9% resulted in a goal.
Thus, it appears that the criteria of success in the attack are not limited only to the achievement of goals, but they represent the pinnacle of achievement offensive, but the shots (on goal, out or blocked / diverted), arrivals to End zone or the offensive third of the pitch, and the option to enjoy a new possession for, which could be achieved in continuous action game or a dead ball situation, represent a range of possibilities that break degrees of success. The zero level of achievement would correspond to the loss of possession. This variability increases even if we consider that all these products should be considered offensive action in its quantitative and qualitative dimensions if we want to biased interpretations. Adopting this approach could facilitate understanding and explanation of the game. Having established our conception of success in the attack, we turn next to review the empirical evidence on the relationship between gambling behavior and different degrees of achievement established fact that, as we noted at the beginning of Section 2.3, is the objective Central to this chapter. Relationship between spatial aspects of the game and obtaining success in the attack phase. The first phenomenon to emphasize on the management of space in the attack phase is the existence of a critical area of annotation (Bate, 1988). The author warns that goals are not achieved unless the offensive team reaches the third phase of the pitch attacker. Only in rare circumstances are ticked from beyond 36 m from the goal. This area could be limited further if we consider that between 80-90% of goals are scored from inside the penalty area (Grant, Williams and Reilly, 1999; Olsen, 1988, and Yiannakos and Armatas, 2006).
Meanwhile, Ensum et al (2005) find that both the distance from the firing position to the near post of the goal as the angle between the launch position and the near post of the goal, affect the success of a shot fired with the foot, so that, in these spikes, the probability score is reduced by 11% for each increase in the distance of 0.9 m from which firing. Contemplating the auctions conducted with the head, only the variable “distance” was an influence not attributable to chance (Chow, 1996), a factor that is more important still in chuts, which seems logical if we consider that the headers are generally less potent. These findings indicate that the training should be implemented in the most appropriate procedures, based on the characteristics of the players, to get the ball to the opponent’s penalty area or its vicinity trying to achieve a position as close and focused effort to make the auction. The second aspect to consider is the area of penetration in the attack phase. The existing evidence (Jinshan et al, 1993), does not suggest conclusively that the side rail penetrations are more effective than those made by the central band and vice versa. We expect, therefore, that both kinds of offensive progression can be effective especially in the extent to help achieve as outlined in the previous paragraph. The last aspect to review in relation to the space is referred to the available amount thereof to the holder of the ball in different stages of the offensive action. Contemplating the attack phase during development, Harris and Reilly (1988) claim that the attacks culminating with a pitch-to-door are characterized by maintaining a greater average distance between the attacker with the ball and his nearest opponent over attack. This event makes sense because the greater the distance between the attacker and the defender balloon pressing closer, the greater the time available to the player to decide what to do with the ball, and the greater the tolerance for error in the control the ball without leading to the loss.
The implication that this entails for training is that players should be educated in the most appropriate way of running to support offensive action the defenders away from the attacker with the ball. Moreover, players should receive training on how to create space for themselves when receiving the ball and when they are in possession of it. Turning now to the time of completion, only one goal in five was achieved in conditions of severe defensive pressure (Olsen, 1988), understood as the enjoyment by the attacker in less than a meter from his direct opponent. Ensum et al (2005) point out that the “space” that provides the bomber and the “number of players” field located between the auctioneer and the goal statistically significantly affect the success of a shot fired with his foot, while than those made with the head only for the first of these two variables influence was found not attributable to chance. As occurred with the variable “distance”, the space seems more important than in the headers chuts made that the authors attribute to the technical head of the auction could be more easily constrained using body contact without incurring regulatory offense. This highlights the need to create space for the attackers to increase the likelihood of getting shot at goal. Attackers with little room tend to be deterred from launching (Harris and Reilly, 1988). These findings suggest that the training tasks for work completion capacity should be designed with opposition if we want the improvements are transferable to the game situation.
Relationship between temporal aspects of the game and obtaining success in the attack phase. Relating offensive efficiency over time, the first element to consider is the length of the attack phase. Throat (1997) notes that the duration of the offensive is highly variable depending on the type of game used, however, Throat, Maia and Basto (1997) find that European football teams at the highest level in offensive processes shown to the achievement of goals, often show a reaction time attack 10 seconds or less, understood as the time lapse since obtained possession until the auction takes place. Mombaerts (2000) reports similar values, appreciating that the decisive offensive phase is characterized by its brevity as many most marked in less than 15 s. Obviously, the attack response time depends not only on the speed of the players or the ball velocity, but also the playing area in which the ball team wins. The practical implication denoting this aspect is that it can be assumed that granting the shortest time possible as opposed to defensive reorganization once it has taken possession and recover the ball as close to the rival goal-craving key factors achieving high levels of success in the attack phase. The second time element to consider in relation to success in the offensive behavior corresponds to the existence of patterns of annotation variables linked to the passage of regular playing time. This is how goals are distributed evenly throughout the 90 minutes? Abt et al (2002) argue that this type of analysis is justified because it could provide useful information to coaches and researchers about the influence of, for example, the achievement of goals, the factors of the game change as inherently that events occur, such as fitness and tactical intention.
Perhaps this phenomenon, of all the objects of study treaties regarding tactics, where researchers have been more consistent in providing their empirical evidence. Thus, it is widely recognized in the literature to achieve goals that stores a heterogeneous pattern along the match is obtained so that a greater percentage of goals (the increase is between 15-35%) in the second parts of the games in the first (Abt et al, 2002; Dufour, 1993, Grant et al, 1999a; Grehaigne, 1998, Hughes and Churchill, 2005; Mombaerts, 2000; Reilly, 1996, 1997, and Yiannakos and Armatas, 2006). More detailed attention paid to this phenomenon, dividing the party into fragments of 15 or even five minutes, begin to appear inconsistencies in the evidence provided. Thus, while some authors appreciate a steady increase throughout the whole game (Abt et al, 2002; Grehaigne, 1998), others find several peaks annotation (Hughes and Churchill, 2005). These differences could be caused by the format, league or knockout, analyzed the different competitions that could lead to changes in equipment performance (James, Mellalieu and Holely, 2002 and Lake, Lake and King, 2007). Despite the differences in all studies agree as often observed in the fragment touchdown late in the game. Furthermore, these late goals often become decisive because Grehaigne (1998) states that the goals scored in the last five minutes of the game gave the victory or confirmed in 77% of cases, a tie occurred in 13% of the time and failed in the attempt to avoid defeat in 10% of cases.
The interpretations of the phenomenon confirmed that the frequency of scoring goals during the match depends on time as well as the differences found in the different studies carried out an analysis to detail, have been predominantly focused on the components of fitness (Abt et al, 2002; Dufour, 1993; Mombaerts, 2000), and technical (Abt et al, 2002; Grehaigne, 1998, Hughes and Churchill, 2005, and Reilly, 1996 and 1997), but seems to us more plausible explanation focused on tactics (Bloomfield, Polman and O’Donoghue, 2005; Grehaigne, 1998; Hughes and Churchill, 2005; Lake et al, 2006, and Reilly, 1996, 1997). According to this, the game could become more urgent by the end of the games to the extent that teams seeking a satisfactory outcome. Although the urgency in the game is difficult to quantify, it would seem that the players are more willing to take greater risks towards the end of the party into producing the desired result. It is also possible that the computer is momentarily on the scoreboard behind his players push forward to create chances, and thus make them or concede more goals. The practical implications arising from the results of these studies would focus on the need to implement in training systems and styles of play richer, so the tactical-strategic behavior of the team to adapt to the different situations that can arise competition. This may arise tasks as handling conditions of advantage and disadvantage equality on the scoreboard with different connotations of temporal urgency and with different levels of cumulative fatigue. To realize these guidelines further, future research should move towards the investigation of how successful teams respond to situations of advantage and disadvantage, much earlier, in the score, ie, what patterns of game show most effective for these purposes.
At a second level could also follow the recommendations of Abt et al (2002) who suggest that should impinge upon the ability of players to withstand the 90 minutes of the game through strategies including dietary manipulation and ensure adequate hydration before, during and after the game, and the rotation of the players or proper use of substitutions. Relationship between modal aspects of the game and obtaining success in the attack phase. Under this heading collect existing evidence on associations that occur most frequently between the procedures used by the equipment when in possession and the different degrees of success that we had identified for the offensive phase. Organize the large volume of data on the subject is a complicated task for what that studies do not share a common language or sometimes the same terms are used by the authors with different connotations. Both events are major obstacles to the comparison between the results obtained by the investigations.
A) The number of passes.
The analysis of the behavior of pass has been one of the first research topics in football and has attracted one of the bitterest debates both in training camp and in the scientific field. Forty years ago Reep and Benjamin (1968), in a study covering a period of 15 years, found that the probability distribution is the number of passes that include a sequence of attack presents a good fit with a distribution Negative binomial, so that, as the sequence of passes becomes longer, the probability of possession is lost. In their study also indicate that while the gameplay changes that can be seen across the board over time could affect the basic parameters of the distribution, influence his character never mathematician. Also, in a later study, Reep, and Benjamin Pollard (1971) extended this analysis and, using the goal as a reference for the result of the possessions, they found that as the number of passes of possession marking probability decreases . In fact, around 80% of the goals observed by these authors derived from sequences of three or fewer passes and extending the boundary of the four passes, the proportion is around 90%. These values, which would be corroborated by further investigations (Bate, 1988; Dufour, 1993; Mombaerts, 2000, Olsen, 1988).
The fact is that these revelations prompted a researcher interested in finding common factors that might explain probabilistic obtaining success in the game. So, Bate (1988) argues that the greater the number of possessions a team that enjoys, the greater the possibility of increasing the number of arrivals to third attacker, and adds that the higher the average number of passes through the lower possession the total number of possessions, the potential arrivals to third attacker and the chances of achieving a shooting opportunity and score a goal. Based on the discussion above, the author argues that while maintaining possession of the ball may even be denote artistic ability, not necessarily effective for production or chances for achieving them. Playing football combinative, many phases of attack does not reach the third striker pitch and achieve this is the real key to getting the victories. In order to increase the number of arrivals to third attacker a team should, as Bate (1988): play the ball forward as often as possible, minimize the game horizontally and backward, increasing the number of long passes pipelines and fast forward and pass the ball into space from defenders back as soon and often as possible. Dufour (1993) shows that 62% of the winning teams play the long ball more than losing teams but nevertheless the risk of failing to pass depends on its length. 75% of the passes are short and only 10% of them are failed, 15% of middle-distance combinations are errors representing 20% of them, 10% of the passes are long and the pin failure 50% thereof. He adds that since the number of goals is inversely proportional to the number of passes, we conclude the following:
– A short pass has little risk but also brings little benefit.
– One in two long passes is wrong … or creates a goal.
– The more passes you make less surprised.
However, other authors are in favor of a more qualitative and statistical values that improved gross (possessions, auctions, completion arrivals area, etc.), Whether individual or collective, not a basis on which to predict reliably the team’s success. Clearly, further research is required to allow us to identify deep most important factors (Patrick and McKenna, 1988). Similarly, Olsen and Larsen (1997) warn that, taking into account the result of an investigation depends greatly on the parameters used, it is important to conduct a critical selection indicators in order to avoid the risk of bias toward show a particular ideology about the game.
In this regard, Hughes and Franks (2005) note that many coaches used the research findings to develop a simplistic tactical approach to football, which was to maximize the chance related items in the game for their teams. In summary, the implication was that the extracted tactic team gains possession must move the ball to a firing position as directly as possible and with the least number of passes. For these authors is a fact that different teams have achieved some measure of success using these strategies, especially progressing from the lower divisions in English football, however, very few teams have succeeded at the highest level in getting a win Cup World or European Championship using direct game strategy. And regret that the effect of this tactic permeated the way we played, and still play, most British clubs. Also Hughes and Franks (2005) propose that the accepted fact that 80% of the score from a sequence of three or less passes can be a misinterpretation facing the strategy employed, since the data have not been standardized . That is, when dealing with unequal frequencies of occurrence, the results must be divided by its frequency of occurrence. Using databases accumulated so far, the authors normalize the results to allow consideration of different interpretations, specifically comparing successful teams against those who fail. Their results support the conclusion that they collected data replicated from Reep and Benjamin (1968), but to be normalized to the frequency of the respective lengths of possession, found that:
– They produce a statistically significant (p <0.01), more shots per possession pass sequences longer than the shortest for successful teams, a fact not appreciated for teams that fail.
– The conversion rate is better pitches in goals for the game to direct the possession game.
It is also concluded that the way in which the data were presented by Reep and Benjamin (1968 and 1971) has led to only a partial understanding of the phenomenon in question. Such simple presentation is common in many publications on performance analysis. Throat (1997) notes that despite the "live game" has been recommended as the most effective offensive method, its effectiveness appears to depend especially on the team's ability to change the tempo (fast and slow), to vary the Attack procedures (fast attack and positional attack) and to apply different styles of play (direct and indirect), in order to surprise the opponent. Other authors study the behavior of passing from a different perspective, time of possession during the game. So, Dufour (1993) states that the team with the ball wins in 65% of the matches and Luhtanen (1993) argues that, in general, the dominating team win the game, but not always. Meanwhile, Alvaro Gomez (2003) found that a longer possession does not correlate with victory nor with higher performance in points. But in their nuanced conclusions that the study should be reconsidered dividing parties in different units of observation, according to partial results and strategic changes in behavior and grouping teams according to their style of play, as they judge to do this would correspond better with the reality studied (possession their importance may vary under different teams could score and give relevance to the use of unequal possession as an offensive weapon).
Lake et al (2006), and Lake and Martin (2007) take the baton and Alvaro Gomez (2003), and find that their assumptions were right direction as they find that the marker location determines the time of possession of equipment so that the sets have a greater time of possession when they are behind on the scoreboard when it indicates momentary tie or win. Also, Lake, Martin and Seirul-lo (2007) found that the ball could be a key to explain the performance of some teams compete in certain contexts. The practical implications of this debate could be summarized, as indicated Olsen and Larsen (1997), to implement a style of play for the team, one must take into account the possible limitations thereon. They must take into account the characteristics of the equipment itself and the opponent, both collectively and individually. At the same time, in light of the empirical evidence provided by the literature, can not be stated categorically that opt for a more direct style of play (with sequences of short passes and long predominance of posts forward), to ensure a higher level of success to practice a combinative type game (with long sequences of passes, short passes and predominance of slow advance). But neither can make otherwise. Rather it will be the game situation stipulating the most appropriate behavior to develop.
B. The balance of forces.
Mesonero and Sainz de Baranda (2006), found the following percentages of the 162 goals scored in the 2002 World Cup in Korea / Japan: 60.9% of the goals outnumbered defensive occurs in 6.8% and only numerical equality 1.2% in the numerical advantage favors the attacking team. In those offensive actions in which defensive numerical superiority was observed, the most frequent number of defenders is 6-9 with 31.5% of all goals, followed by 5 defenders with 27%, 4 defenders with 22.5% and 1-3 defenders with 21%. Regarding the number of attackers, in 39.5% of cases were observed 3 attackers, followed by 1-2 with 26.1%, four attackers and 20.7% 5-6 13.5% attackers. In light of these data, it seems clear that the numerical relationship with the opponent, from the point of view of the attack phase, is always unfavorable. While more studies would be needed that confirmed the finding of these authors, this could be one of the causes explicasen characterizing the low scoring football and we referred to when dealing with the success in the game. It would be interesting to see if this balance of power, as we have seen with other offensive behavior, vary according to the situation that denotes the score, that is, if when teams are losing is predisposed to assume more risk by incorporating a more defensive number of players to attack, and if this could have some relationship with the time dependence of the frequency of annotation. Assuming Mesonero valid results and Sainz de Baranda (2006), what does seem clear is that training should be implemented in the modes of attack that may be effective to address this kind of disadvantage and, also, that the procedures should be offensive worked under conditions of strong opposition.
C. Home of the attack phase.
There seems to be a broad consensus to admit that the effectiveness of offensive action strongly depends on the area of the field in which it originates. Reep and Benjamin (1968), indicate that most of the goals come from sequences originating offensive end zone. The proportion of processes that begin offensive in that area among all ending in a goal shows values around 50%. Deepen still more to illustrate the importance of the origin of offensive actions by pointing out that a third of the attacks that reach end zone also originate it, and also that 50% of attacks originating from end zone are second balls, that is, the defense fails to send the ball away from the area in question. Bate (1988) abounds in this area suggesting that teams should enter players into more advanced positions to provide support to pass and regain possession of the ball if it is lost, and that doing this reduces the overall effectiveness of the team. Another important finding pointing Reep and Benjamin (1968) is that only 15% of attacks that reach end zone with a launch, while in the subgroup of them originating in and shooting zone, the percentage Shooting of attainment reaches 22%. Mombaerts (2000) and Hughes and Churchill (2005) conclude in similar terms. Hughes et al (1998) found that by a defense that loses control of the ball and, therefore, possession, you get a higher ratio of goals per chance. Consequently, it may be beneficial to the players push the line further back the opposing team to force the occurrence of these errors. Considering the balance of power at the moment of starting the offensive sequence, initial configuration having an attack, defined as the relative advantage or disadvantage to the attacking team gives the ratio of attackers by defender near the ball, is a good indicator when discriminating between those attacks that result in at goal and those where fire is not achieved or is made out. This shows that the attacks begin with, or fail to achieve fast, get a good setup and maintain, tend to be more successful. Teams should, therefore, try to launch attacks on positions with good potential (Harris and Reilly, 1988).
The same authors go on to say that the change in the initial offensive potential over the attack phase represents a valid reference to discriminate attacks getting a shot on goal from the unsuccessful ones. This factor is a measure of the contribution to the success of collective work. The improvement in the ratio attackers / defenders should probably be the advance of the attackers without the ball to help the owner of the ball and, on appeal, the act of passing the ball to a teammate or back between the defenders. The effect of the first action is the dispersion and weakening of defensive resources, and on the second, temporary disqualification of some advocates. Collective work, therefore, successfully discriminate between successful attacks and those with a moderate level of achievement or fail while it is unlikely that top-level teams are able to overcome the collective work significantly. This is likely to be the starting potential maintenance during the offensive and use of the players and the available space (using the potential), the fundamentals for success (Harris and Reilly, 1988) Based on these statements seem Clearly, from the point of increasing the success of the offensive phase, it is advisable to adopt defensive procedures that can recover possession as close as possible to the goals. The high contribution of these actions to the achievement of goals could be one reason to explain the fact that it is possible to succeed offensive outnumbered conditions as important as we saw in the previous section. It also seems noteworthy that the initial conduct of the attack phase could be that determines the success or failure ends of the same. With this in mind and if conditions permit, you should seek immediate progression to the recovery of the ball, trying to overcome with this boot a contrary line to get a favorable configuration and, from there, keep it.
In summary, the existing literature on the tactic in football has considered a wide range of variables and strategies. However, James et al (2002) note that while considerable attention has been paid to the analysis of performance in major international competitions, few studies have examined a particular team over a season. In cases in which this has been done, we have used relatively small samples, limiting the ability of researchers to generate inferences about the team's strategy, with a high level of confidence. Following Olsen and Larsen (1997), the few answers that have been adduced here are not supposed final or perpetual but that seem likely to be continuously reviewed critically. So many factors upon which the outcome of a game there is always the danger of making decisions based on false or weak. Moreover, such difficulties should not deter us from taking them. While there has been extreme positions regarding the stubborn defense of certain procedures offensive and the most reliable vehicle for success, it seems that teams are showing considerable flexibility to change tactics depending on the opponent and the actual situation the tournament who are more likely to succeed (Pietersen, 2004). The various continental and national football conceptions show that success can be achieved with different styles of play. This may mean that there is no single right way to play football. As stated by Olsen and Larsen (1997), the "formula for victory" probably will not ever discovered. However, a systematic approach to the analysis of the syntax of the game in general and the syntax of victory in particular, both a collective and individual level, can help us choose and use the right elements.
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Where do you see more “truth”?
Do you find the same “truth” or different “truths” between them?
Im not disagreeing with the principle of Gary’s post. The probabilities all bring the majority of us here to the same conclusions about the game.
What is clear is that before this conversation can truly move forward, we must define what truth is. Probabilities and fact do not necesaarily constitute truth.
Now again for the third time, this may all be semantics but we need to be careful with our rhetoric
Agree Soccer Purist
Absolute truth, conviction, principle, insight, opinion, wisdom, “truth” are all somewhat related, but they are not the same
How much operative worth can one squeeze from each produces the “magic” stuff
This is a great open discussion to make people “think” about the game.
For more operative value, it needs to move towards a more systematic approach ex pick up a game model and work trough its details
From one physicist soccer coach to another – This site is rad, it makes me try to be a better coach. However I must admit I am not at this level. My struggle is getting my recreational U9 girls to run and stop playing patty cake. I took Gary’s advice and told them “stop it with the f*#k!ng Patty Cake”. But seriously, getting them to stop the kick ball and pass a bit more has been a real joy for me, despite the fact that they are no good at it.
So much probability talk I just had to chime in. With probability there are upsets which make things interesting. Truths may define probabilities but probabilities can not define truths until the measurement is made and all but one possibility collapse resulting in a single truth – HOWs that for Quantum Physics, which is far less complicated than the statistics of soccer, there is really only one equation. However given many initial truths an algorithm can be developed to turn the odds in your favor but all truths must be considered.
It is kinda like the TV show person of interest where there is a computer that can predict violent crimes only this one will pick soccer players and outcomes. Gary’s seems to be working judging by that kick-ass team the Kleiban’s developed. Wow – I should show my U9ers that video.
Gary Kleiban says
On probabilities …
One does not need to make a measurement to know the probability distribution.
The probability of finding the electron closer to the Bohr radius is greater than at infinity.
Know what I mean. 🙂
Dr Loco says
The thing about probability is that it trys to describe a deterministic process in the absence of real dynamic equations.
For example, the probability of flipping a coin head/tails is 50%. However, there is no guarantee that tails or head will appear 50% of the time. It could very well range from 0-100%. The true answer lies in the dynamics. Unfortunately most systems are too complex to derive physical dynamic equations. In their absence probability theory is better than nothing. Perhaps fuzzy logic is a better approach.
Off Topic, but has anyone watched the UF Women’s team play? Someone on here or another site said to watch them, I did and they play a surprisingly quality brand of soccer, I would recommend watching them over the vast majority of men’s college teams even. Number 10 in the midfield in particular is true class, 17 is another real good one. But the whole team looks to circulate the ball, keeps possession well, presses, I was pleasantly surprised watching them.
TopForm Soccer says
Interesting research on creating a winning formula through soccer statistics, there may or may not be truths behind them, up for you to decide; fascinating the most important variable is winning the possession battle…
No, the most important variable is shots on target.
TopForm Soccer says
you’re correct. *one of*
If you read it closer there were some scenarios where possession was important but it wasn’t across the board like shots on target. Clearly there are teams that are successful without possession and clearly if a team is dominating they will tend to possess the ball more than the other team. I don’t believe teams studied in that article were possession based teams.
I disagree that Shots On Target is important. Remember there is a human being, an important one, a goalie, inside the target confounding this statistic. I believe a shot slightly outside of the crossbar but out of reach of the goalie is “better” than one directly to the middle of the net and to the goalie. The former is only inches away from a sure goal where the latter is feet away.
Also, does hitting the post and bouncing out, rather than in, count as shot on target or not? I believe it does not and they are the closest thing to sure goals next to goals themselves.
Some truths from a shoe salesman from Fusignano
“The only way you can build a side is by getting players who speak the same language and can play a team game. You can’t achieve anything on your own, and if you do, it doesn’t last long. I often quote what Michelangelo said: ‘The spirit guides the hand.’”
“Barca is not really a team. It’s a culture. The style, the harmony, the talented youngsters: everyone’s working towards the same idea.”
“Barcelona’s unfair advantage is their style of play. I heard the same thing at Milan. We didn’t run more than the others. We just ran better.”
“Italian football is the football of fear: two players attack, ten defend, the youngsters stay on the bench and no one comes to the stadiums anymore.”
“He’s a maestro who has his own style. He needs to aim for quality, not the superficial and what comes easy. I don’t go to the bakery because of the baker but because of the bread. A maestro is someone who demands the best, who demands rigour.”
Definition of coach
What was the secret behind the Milan team that won two European Cups in successive seasons?
“There was no secret, only a great team. Silvio Berlusconi didn’t want other managers coming to Milanello to watch the training but I told him: “Mr President, it is not a problem at all. They can watch all the training sessions they like, but if they do not have the key, they cannot open the door.” And, you know, there is a big difference if La Traviata is conducted by Riccardo Muti or by my cousin. It is opera in both cases, but conducted in a very different way.”
What have been the most important tactical revolutions in football?
“There has been only one real tactical revolution and it happened when football shifted from an individual to a collective game. It happened with Ajax first and then the Holland national team at the beginning of the 1970s. For Johan Cruyff and the rest of the Dutch players the field suddenly became small; for the other teams, the field remained enormously big. This philosophy marked the difference between me and Silvio Berlusconi, tactically speaking. He thought that football was a beautiful game played by skilled individuals and I thought – and I still think that it is a beautiful game played by a team collectively.”
“For you, who are the teams that have changed the history of football?”
“I have seen three great teams in my lifetime: the Ajax and Holland side of the 1970s; my Milan at the end of the 1980s; and today Barcelona with Pep Guardiola at the helm.”
Guardiola is at a club with a strong tradition of Dutch coaches: Johan Cruyff first, then Louis Van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard. Has he copied the Dutch philosophy?
“Their Barcelona teams played a different type of football. I played against Cruyff when he was the manager of Barcelona and they did not pay a lot of attention to the defensive aspect of the game. Guardiola’s team play a more complete style because all the players in his team can attack and defend. This is a new version of “totaalvoetbal”.
The shoe salesman would later on reinvent modern soccer and built the, quite possibly best club side of all time:
I’d buy a pair.
Truth- The goalie does not know what the shooter is thinking
Truth – More successful passes equals more first touch opportunities
Truth – A ball moving away from the goal above 7 feet can never go in
Truth – Main referee never goes deep into the corners
Truth – Possession can be won without ever touching the ball
Truth – Legs are more powerful than arms
Truth – The taller the player the further their eyes are from the field
Truth – Any principle regarding offense has a corresponding principal regarding defense
Truth – Running utilizes the same parts of the body that are used to defend low balls
Truth – Vast majority of head balls are one touches
Truth – Kicking the ball at opponent’s nose is not a foul
Curious Larry says
Conventional wisdom will not get you close
to the gold standard.
1) can you be a great player without
passing the ball in the air?
2) can you be a great passer without
passing the ball long?
3) can you be a great attacker without
a single strong foot?
I will give you some different ones.
1, The probability of faster,stronger,bigger player being able to win the ball is higher than the slower,weaker and smaller players.
2, The probability of scoring by punting the ball into the other side’s box is higher than otherwise.
That is why jungle ball exists.
Since the first post talks about the game between Celtic and Barca, I will give you a couple more
1, The probability of scoring by some taller players’ header is higher than the shorter ones’.
2, The probability of scoring a weak back line is higher than a 9 men back line.
That is why we saw the Celtic’s win.
There is a very interesting experiment. A scientist had 10 fish that loves to fight as an individual or as a group, eventually there will always be a dominant leader in a certain group. Let’s say that you would assign a number to each one such as 001,002…010. So you put them into 1v1 fight in a glass container to observe their fight. Then you write down the winning record and eventually you would find a winner – let’s say 007. You would assume that this 007 guy will be the leader if we put all the fish into one container,right? Actually no,because the real world system is always more complicated than you think, it is a chaotic system, full of randomness. The 007 might never have the same 1v1 fight in the real world, he might got beat up by 2 weaker guys.
My point is that it is kind of like the soccer game. Different bunch of people have different gold standards and they start to fight. In the end, still hard to tell who is going to win.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the possession style soccer.
Juan de Dios says
If these were truth then Barcelona would never have a chance playing vs EPl teams, they will always lose…but what are the statistics when they played EPL Teams??
Not counting this year, since the 08-09 season vs EPL teams Barcelona has 4 wins, 2 losses and 4 ties. 4 games vs Chelsea, 2 games vs Man U and 4 games vs Arsenal. His truths are just a couple of factors. Just like possession is another factor to be taken into consideration.
Juan de Dios says
Yeah but is this formula was the best “jungle soccer” England could have won at least 4 world cups in the past…
You’re confusing English national teams with English Premier League teams. One can’t produce/pick/develop talent and the other buys it.
Juan de Dios says
I don’t think so, How many English players play in spain or Italy? (which are also consider top leagues) compared to How many from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Holland, Germany and France play on EPL? How many English coaches coach in other leagues? I see your point but also EPL has been importing players and coaches, don’t you think? That is why I like clubs like Barcelona, is the only team in the world that wins cup with most of his players coming up from the inferior divisions…And they have been doing this since Cruyff coached them in the late 80’s..
You’re not reading properly. I flat out stated EPL buys players then you say they import players/coaches. It’s the same thing. I also said that the English national teams are poor because they can’t develop or find the proper players, which is why very, very few of English born players play outside of the EPL. And while Barca may not buy as many top players from the outside that doesn’t mean they aren’t buying/investing in young players. So I’m not sure what you mean by their players coming from inferior divisions, that’s simply not true.
Juan de Dios says
HAHA! You are right! Sorry! I was late and I didn’t read right, my bad if I made you mad, it wasn’t my intention! Sorry again!!
A better metric of how well any player performs can be attained by looking at his statistics (goals, assists, saves, etc) relative to the total salary of his opponents on the field at the time….
Even better might be that statistic relative to the total salary of his team on the field (minus his salary of course).
So a player that scores 10 goals against opponents averaging 10 million dollars per year on the field (maybe Clint Dempsey) would be more highly regarded than one that scores 10 goals against
opponents averaging 1 million dollars per year on the field (maybe Chris Wondolowski)
Also, players with identical statistics against the same salaried opponents could be measured relative to their own teammate’s salary on the field at the time. Michael Bradley with Chievo last year versus Michael Bradley with Roma this year… I think he might have played better last year… or his role changed… something is different and these types of salary-on-the-field-based statistics might offer a closer look at what is happening.
You could apply them to international games too.
We are Americans and we live for statistical shit… and that’s the truth!
Juan de Dios says
I don’t believe in statistics like that so much, to me is how he moves on the field, how he does as he is told, how he helps recover the ball, you might have a forward that doesn’t score as much but helps create the plays for the goals, it depends on what you want in your team and your philosophy, you can’t measure the same way statistics like American Football or beisball, in soccer it is different many have tried and they ends up not making a good team..
Juan de Dios says
Celtic won because this is a sport and anything can happen, but your chances of doing it again are slim, chances you win with possession are higher because you have the ball, you could lose, but chances of losing are less…If Chelsea plays 10 vs Barcelona again that final game, chances are 9 times Barcelona will win, but that “one” time could happen and it did… If these were truth England would have won 5 world cups easily in the past 40 years…
Eli Banana says
Yea but they don’t play ten times, they just play once or twice (aggregate), and the truth is that as great as their system is, other very good teams do figure out how to get results against them in that one game, which is all that matters.
Juan de Dios says
Yep, that is why is a game 🙂 You can win, lose or tie
I don’t know. Arsene Wenger has used statistical analysis to measure player performance for years. True, right now Arsenal is struggling a bit. But look how dominant they have been in the past.
They have not drastically changed their style of play either. The one thing constant in football is that tactics generally have to change in order to achieve exceptional results. This is where coaching comes into play at the highest levels.
The youth game is totally different. The coach plays the role of ‘teacher’ and facilitator.
Juan de Dios says
How many English players play in different leagues other important? compared to How many from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Holland, Germany and France? How many English coaches coach in other leagues? I see your point but also EPL has been importing players and coaches, don’t you think?
I’ve got something to say about this post that’s truth but it’s not quite relevant right now so I’ll hold off until the best opportunity for explication presents itself. It has more to do with the politics of current US club/youth ball than here. Here’s a hint, though: my name was eliminated from the list of state champion coaches on the new state superclub’s website because I no longer coach there, Anyone who does is still listed; anyone who doesn’t just magically disappeared from the list… think about that.
It’s easier to tell your keeper to just punt than to play out of the back.
It’s easier to coach a flat back 4 than any other back line.
It’s easier to teach your team to play directly than indirectly.
It’s easier to put your most skilled players in attack instead of defense.
It’s easier to teach tactics than teach a player to chose between tactics.
It’s easier to replace your coach than to insist your existing coach play a different style.
It’s easier to tell parents what they want to hear than delivery hard truths that make the money machine unhappy.
It’s easier to win ugly than lose pretty.
It’s easier to complain about the officiating than blame yourself for your team’s failings.
It’s easier to scream at your players than sit there and quietly observe your handiwork.
It’s easier to become an expert by continually doing the same thing more efficiently over 20 years than continually questioning yourself and your assumptions every year for 20 years.
Juan de Dios says
I liked all of this!
Dr Loco says
“It’s easier to become an expert by continually doing the same thing more efficiently over 20 years than continually questioning yourself and your assumptions every year for 20 years.”
Love it. What club are you with?
I’m a referee up in CA-N, and am associated with the local league. Don’t have the patience for youth coaching, but I do get to see lots of talented players up close (best seat in the house). I am very curious about the differences and similarities between good coaches and good referees. Just learning the LOTG does not prepare you for the game management skills required for successful refereeing. Likewise, completing your X license does not prepare you to successfully guide/grow/develop young soccer-playing brains. Americans love metrics, but since we don’t track soccer IQ, we have no idea who has a high IQ and who doesn’t, why it’s important (or not), etc. I had hoped that Klinsmann would be able to inject a new structure with new people and a new regiment into our youth Uteams, but I see that was naive. What is really needed is for Brian or some like-minded coaches (I know of 2 more) to start at the youngest U team and every year they move up they backfill with like-minded/trained/focused coaches that can repeat the strategies and tactics until we have a full men’s team of skilled and intelligent players at every position. The U teams are currently like a large club managed by the politburo–churn to benefit the politicians instead of the citizens. I refuse to accept that 2002 was our country’s highest achievement in men’s soccer. I demand better but US Soccer enjoys laughing at my despair. *sigh*
Of course, it could be worse–I could be English! They are well and truly buggered.
Absolute truth = Rules of the game ex very important one: there is only one ball
And then there is interpretation to many of rules…
Any change has an effect on the game and on how effective certain principles are, some effects can be profound: ex passing forward (yes the first football passing rules were similar to rugby), offside, size of goal, substitution rule, back pass to GK, type of ball & surface, red card offenses (dangerous tackles , etc)
You can even end up with a different game
So, I hate to give anyone excuses, but chances are college soccer will always look a bit different while rules are different (yes I am talking about unlimited subs) This is an idiotic rule not only because it’s not appropriate to develop players to the next level, but because fundamentally changes the nature of the game…and not to the best (This last line is a matter of opinion, but it is the right one 🙂 )
Question is, are we going to push to change this or will we let it stay as an alternate reality that we cringe when look at and love to complain about?
Could only come up with one statement that I feel is a truth, sorry –
The decision making of the players on the field, decide the outcome of the game (as long as the ref is fair).
Maybe we could call the others axioms?
An offense that passes the ball will make the defense adjust.
The ball moves faster than the defense can adjust, which create gaps.
The faster the ball moves, the more gaps will be created.
An offense that takes advantage of these gaps, will create more chances.
RP – 17 I like your truth about player decision making… thought provoking… especially contrasted with American football or baseball which many times is heavily influenced by the coaches decision making… but I think refs are never fair and playing them is a game inside the game and that’s how FIFA wants it.
How about this refinement to one of your axioms?
If the point of attack moves faster than the defense can adjust it may force them off balance.
Yeah, still an axiom… And what is definition of point of attack? Does a “possessed” ball moving above head height still maintain a point of attack when nobody in possession can reach it? It’s certainly not loose, but no longer a point of attack. Or is it just when the ball is “possessed”, near the ground and within striking distance of a player (let’s say 1 yard)?
I like this better than a “ball moving fast” because I notice in jungle ball the ball does many times move fast but the tendency of the defense is to sort of pause, like a seizure, probably to prevent creating gaps or falling off balance.
I like “off balance” better than “creating gaps” because the field is huge, there are always gaps, but are the gaps in the right place at the right time? For example, is the goalie off his mark on a goal line cut-back (off balance) or to cut down the angle of a break away… same gap different state of balance and effect on play.
I like to think of moving the point of attack rapidly and vastly as a way of either preventing a defense from bracing itself from an attack coming from one direction (keeping them less balanced) or a way to thrash them back and forth to the point that just simply collapse because some of them or all of they are bracing for an attack coming from a direction other than the point of attack.
An offense that takes advantage of an off balance defense will create more chances.
Refinement is a good thing (as long as it does not bring everything to a screaching halt).
pg 19 says
great technical ability – poor tactical understanding < or = Messi age 14
great tactical understanding – poor technical ability < or = coach
great technical ability + great tactical understanding < or = Messi present day
A technically gifted, tactically advanced, late puberty child will be missed by the average observer if forced to compete within a 50-50 jungle ball environment at U14-16 boys and U13-15 girls.
This same child will become incredibly frustrated as teammates do not make themselves available for a pass and instead get in the way or even take the ball off his foot.The coaches and parents support the big kid winning balls and usually turning over possession, but on occasion the big kid hits a 25 yard shot or dribbles through a smaller defender for an ugly goal.
This truth is even more evident if the child is a girl as it is clear that the girl’s coaches have no idea what to do with a kid like this.
If there are no options within 2 hours of travel one way to put the kid on a possession oriented team where he could shine, what do you tell him to keep him happy, when he can’t play his game? Is there anyway to salvage success for him?
My son told me two days ago that he is “getting frustrated with USA focusing so much on big and strong”. I was shocked to hear that. He’s frustrated with his teammates (most of whom are huge, he’s U14) playing jungle ball. The coach teaches passing / possession soccer, but several of the kids are just kick and chase or try to dribble entire pitch. The bench isn’t deep and when subs come on goals scored. We have two players who I don’t know why are on the team (USDA Club). They really suck but get to play 50%. At 14, they are well past hope of ever developing! Frustrating for him and others.
He puts 5-7 hours of his own time working on technical skills (yes, he’s dedicated and doing so now for a few years). But he said it’s a waste because he is small and US only wants big and strong. He is understanding that more and more now as he gets older. He has kids his age who have half the tactical awareness and ball skill and don’t think during games, but they are close to 6′ tall and US Soccer loves them. I’ve seen ODP selections of his buddies who are Route 1 (basic skills, no soccer smarts). WTF!!!!
Futsal. Our kids went to the west coast Futsal tourney in LA last summer, had a blast, met lots of Brazilian Mormons from Utah who kicked everyone’s backside. Futsal tunes the ball handling, passing, shooting, decision-making skills without the hoofing-it-down-the-field aspect of soccer that allows the kick-and-run/low IQ people to dominate play. I think the kids prefer it because they get way more touches without all the running.
If your kids aren’t exhausted after playing futsal then they’re not trying. You won’t see the 50 yrd runs but you should 5000 10 yr sprints in an hour session. It has nothing to do with more touches and less running. They are missing the point entirely if that is what’s on the court.
pg 19 says
Futsal is my 2nd favorite variation of soccer; first being 3v3 outdoor.
The first time I coached a futsal team, our first couple of games we were exposed in terms of how lack of control we demonstrated with the ball and our reliance too much on just getting after the ball when we had it (aka knock forward and chase).
The futsal ball is weighted and dead and performs opposite of how a soccer ball out on a field does. You have to kick it twice has hard to motivate it when passing. When dribbling, the ball will run away from you as it doesn’t slow down much once moving on the gym floor and because of its extra weight.
What my team learned from it was quicker feet and using other surfaces of their foot to control the ball. Especially the soles of their feet in both handling the ball (moves, dribling, changes of direction) as well as passing (skimming the top of the ball with a kick to get more top spin on it so the ball accelerates more quickly without it being overkicked).
In terms of running less/more, depends on how much the team controls the ball. In my opinion, there is a lot more running in 3v3 but that is more because the game engages all players on the field as you hve to maintain shape relative to attack and defending while also maintaining balance which many younger teams fail to do if they dribble into an area a team mate is near or when trying to combine.
What division were you in R2Dad? My sons teams were also competing at that tournament in Anaheim. I agree about about the teams from Utah- they had a strong showing in multiple divisions, including mens open. The Utah teams match against last years Champ Safira was hardcore.- very fast and physical, with some near fights and then both teams were samba’ing together through the Hotel lobby that night.
Sadly, I had to work and couldn’t go so all my info is second hand. Both BU9 team and GU16 teams got smoked but that didn’t stop the kids from having fun. The parents were complaining the tournament wasn’t very organized, refereeing was spotty and there were security issues (they saw/heard about several of these near-fights). But both of my kids are sprinters so the short bursts on the court work well vs the 10 second lung-bursting required on a big pitch.
You are correct, my children excel at Futsal and enjoy it. However its kind of a fun rec league sort of event in our area.
They are looking for more appreciation of their abilities on the big field. To put it simply they want to see more of the ball in situations where they can be successful. Especially my daughter. My children look at least 2 years younger than their peers. Yet are very quick and surprisingly successful despite their environment. They stand out for the tricky turn or ability to come out of a scrum with the ball, or full side volley etc. But they are not happy.
They are both starters on regionally successful teams. However, though they are both playmaking, break down the defense, excellent vison type players, they are put on the outside on teams that don’t intentionally play the ball wide. The coaches thinking is that they will get hurt in the middle of the “bumper cars”.
Both offered me similar explanations without my asking about their positions as I have never initiated a conversation with either coach for more than a hi how are you type conversation. Strangley, both coaches have come up to me while I was watching a training session and offered their explanantions on why they play my children as left outside box-to box mids. I simply nodded to them and did not argue or offer much comment except to say thanks for the explanation. Honestly I don’t care about their outside designation it might even be a good position for them, the issue is neither team really ever intentionally plays the ball to them.
They are also put on the left as neither team has a left foot dominant player and they are both decidedly 2 footed after years of practice. Their right footed (left brained) teammates in the middle of the field rarely even look left to play a ball. To see the ball at all, they mostly win the ball out of position (not the easiest when you spot your defender 50 pounds or more) after getting tired of making runs and being wide open and screaming for the ball. They rarely have a ball intentionally played to them. Sometimes they get a flail of a 50-50 ball from the outside back. Luckily my kids can bring the ball down smoothly as even if an intentional ball is played to them it is rarely properly weighted.
Their coaches play a 4-4-2 with the center mids as basically d-mids and both strikers are often at the same latitude on the field. No target or recessed (attacking mid) type players. I think some of the problem with both these teams is the absence of a playmaking attacking mid, but don’t feel right talking to their “A” licensed coaches. By the way I have played for 20+ years with 7 total, intercollegiate varsity letters (more than 1 sport). Only coached my kids when they were very young, but seriously thinking of coaching my daughter as she suffers more than her brother.
Of potential interest my daughter (12 years old) trains with a local boys team. The team plays in the second flight of a 10 flight league. She is by far the most technical player, but the boys are trying to play the right way with a coach who requires it. They are quicker than most girls her age though not necessarily faster in long stretches. They force her to play the ball faster and it has been a good augment to her development. She would love to play on this team full time but the club bylaws say not possible, must play on same sex team.
Here’s a real shocker: both kids do well and are better recognized in the ODP environment. Our state ODP has made a real effort at making sure the picks are not based on size but on technical ability. By the way both my wife and I are above average in height as will likely be our children; they are simply late bloomers.
I give you the specifics for advice and support but also to illustrate the problem facing many (I am sure) kids out there who might get discouraged within this jungleball environment. In fact my daughter is an excellent point guard; she plays basketball just like she plays soccer. She has to decide this year between basketball and soccer as we bumped her up to this regional soccer team this year and basketball won’t fit in the scedule with travel involved with both. Looking for some magic to tell her to keep her passionate about the game. advice on how to approach the coach would also be helpful if you think it advisable.
Thanks for anything you can offer
Very late to the conversation, but just wanted to chime in to commiserate. I could have written oldknees’ post word for word. My son is above-average technically and has a good soccer IQ, but is lost in a rec-style “select” club. He said, “why do the big clubs suck?” (this is his third due to job relocation).
The coach plays him on the left on a jungle ball team because he’s the only one who can use both feet. 15 minutes in to his first practice the coach came over and said, “Great! So he’s left-footed?”. Uh, no. He made several beautiful left-footed crosses this weekend that probably no kid in the whole league could have made. He tries to play triangles, use width (ugh, don’t get me started on the lack of width), one-two, drop passes, but no one gets it. The coach certainly doesn’t.
There is no philosophy as far as I can tell. Not possession, not counter-attacking, not even direct. I’d be happy if the coach came out and stated, “we are going to park the bus”. At least he would be honest and have something to offer. Instead it just seems to be “try to score”. The parents just yell, “nice kick! … send it … play it forward … !!” This is at the “highest” level club in my area. At the end of the weekend my son was about to cry, “I go to space, I find the black holes, and the other kids just try to dribble through 4 defenders with their head down! If they would just look up we could have had 10 easy goals.”
Sorry I don’t have anything very intelligent to add to the dialogue, I just wanted to put a “+1” on this site. The posts on what makes a good coach and pro vs rec really hit home and I may just send them to our coach, parents and DOC. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it 😉
As for my son, I am going to show him some of the videos from here to prove there is good soccer in the US, we just have to find it. That may never happen though, and if so, he will be just another kid who might have been good, but who eventually stops playing.
One wild idea is that you coaches that get to name your teams call them something like “Possessors” or “Possessed” or some other code name so that opponents know that you subscribe to this philosophy. Maybe then parents who have a kid trained in possession can ask them if they need like minded players.
Yes, this whole “jungle ball” discussion is very enlightening. And as the father of 2 “possessed” boys who have a hard time fitting in and a girl on the way, I find your comment very interesting about it being more difficult for girls to play this way in the jungle ball world.
I actually am coming to the realization that it may be best that some kids have two distinct sets of skills to survive in US youth soccer beyond the age of attrition. They may have to be able to play the international standard (right now possession/high pressure/etc) and concurrently they may have to know jungle-ball in order to keep playing time in games at the dumb-ass, daddy level. Having a jungle skill set to fall back on in case they find themselves on a traditional American team after puberty (a likelihood at some point).
My oldest son (13yo) who plays soccer is diagnosed autistic. So he has no problem having a distinct skill set from his peers. He kind of likes it. He one touches everything, barely ever looks down to the ball… would never dream in a million years to “hang and bang”. I’ve seen the ball go out of bounds off his foot once and it was on purpose, sort of like “oh shit nobody to pass to and they caught me sleeping” (ever notice how little Barca ever has defend against throw ins???). But his status goes in and out of favor with his teammates and coaches as they go in and out of jungle ball. He doesn’t care because he listens to his own drummer… and I’ve been spoiled by this freedom.
My younger son (10 yo), on the other hand, who may have a higher possession based skill set, however does go on emotional roller coasters from going in and out of favor by his coaches and teammates and does feel tempted to play jungle ball sometimes. I can tell and I don’t blame him. All along I’ve been telling myself that turning him into a pitbull would be easy, but at best a waste of his training time that could be better served working towards what I have always called “international standard” and here we call “possession”. If I spend the time to show him to how to sprint into a crowd then it’s less time I can teach him receiving a ball properly or passing a ball properly which is so nuanced and important; inside of the foot, across the body, deceptive but controlled first touch, spin, etc. I may errantly believe that the moments before puberty are precious to learn these foot skills believing that once the hormones kick in you got what you got… and maybe ten hours spent on foot skills equals one hour pre-puberty because taking rote instruction (or fundamental instruction) seems so painful for teenagers.
Anyway maybe with our girl we can teach two styles of soccer; jungle-ball and possession… and tell her to utilize whichever skill is desirable to the coach at the time… and if we run across a team called the “Possessors” or something like that we try like hell to get her on that team for awhile.
Juan de Dios says
NOVA Mike says
What makes you think Messi had poor tactical understanding at age 14?
Do you think youth academies of professional 1st division clubs in Argentina don’t know how to teach the game?
NOVA Mike says
Sorry – to clarify, that last post is a reply to PG 19 ‘s post from waaaay farther up the page, specifically this comment:
“great technical ability – poor tactical understanding < or = Messi age 14"
Really wish there was an "edit" button here. 😉
pg 19 says
Look at all three points together. One without the other (technique/tactics) is limiting. Messi as he is now, with maturity and guidance has gained the tactical understanding of the game that now mirrors his technical brilliance with the ball. My observation of him as a player since he’s been with Barca is that he has improved tremendously as a team player. I believe he credited Pep for giving him that guidance in terms of understanding the game tactically as he knows it now.
Dr Loco says
The truth in basketball. Surprised we don’t have coaches like her in soccer.
This is an excellent video! Great advice for any player of any sport.
Juan de Dios says
Basketball and soccer are so similar in som many ways, lots of coaches in Mexico told me that playing basketball complements a lot of soccer things…Here in the Oklahoma I yet have not seen staged position plays and stuff on a 10 or 11 year old kid, coaches want the kids to figure it out themselves and then get frustrated because the kid didn’t do the “right play”, to me it’s so frustrating, there is no tactics plays, lie corner kicks, bring the ball from the back set plays, etc etc…those need to be taught at a young age, I mean if they do it in basketball, american football, why not soccer??? Oh wait, cuz most coaches have no idea!!
True, it’s a struggle… everywhere
Read below . This is illuminating stuff
“Barca of the shorties”
1. – The first thing he saw was a sign on the door of the technical secretariat. It read, quote: “If you come to offer me a juvenile measuring less than 1.80 m, turn around.” The poster summarized the philosophy of the club in the last twenty years: only senior players wanted, tough and strong.
2. – The first thing Laureano Ruiz was starting the cartel. Barca sign him just as youth team coach, who accumulated only two championships in Spain in the past 20 years, despite the sign of the tough players. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the “loss of beer.”
3. – The April 15, 1972, the club played in the Copa Catalunya youth against Damm, champions of Spain and Catalan football prodigious quarry. In the stands, 15,000 fans over Pablo Porta, Hector Rial, national youth coach, Rinus Michels, coach of the first team and the president himself, Agustí Montal. The youth team coached by Jose Maria Minguella falls in that final against Damm 3-2.
4. – Very upset about the defeat, Agustí Montal is interviewed on leaving the stage and explodes: “We must do something. This can not be allowed. Okay we win a football team, but we won a brewery , no, not that! “. Montal not notice that Damm, plus beer, is a producer of exceptional players, but the fact is that revolutionizes football at Barca and hires a Santander named Laureano Ruiz.
5. – The first thing is to start Laureano said and call sign quality players, no matter the size. “Gamers”, “small people”, as we call them now. Set aside the clumsy, for high and tough they are, and brings into play the talented. After twenty years of practice drought, beat Barca youth thereafter Spain five consecutive championships, a feat unheard of, always in front Laureano, who in 1974 was appointed coordinator of the grassroots, when it implements the Rondos and manages all club youth teams play with the same system and identical profiles.
6. – Four years later leaving the club due to differences with the president Núñez, newly elected, and someone hangs up the poster of 1.80 tall, to the point that one day in 1986, a boy born in Santpedor opens hopping doctor door and shouting: “I will measure 1.80, will be professional”. That boy is called Pep Guardiola and nobody ominous because it is short and puny. Give you just the “doll test” to measure and predict how the result is 1.80, hence the euphoria of the boy.
7. – However, Guardiola at Barca B notes, in fact, barely plays. The club has returned to its policy of senior players, tough and strong. Until a certain Johan Cruyff, restarts the poster and replanting seed sown by Laureano Ruiz. Guardiola amounts to the first team and the rest of the story is well known: the Dream Team, the quarry Barca’s Spain short people of Luis Aragones, the Pep Team, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi …
and 8. – I think of all this now in the header of a Kenyan Celtic Glasgow has reopened old posters in Barcelona footballers asking more than 1.80 …
Friday, November 9, 2012, 13:23
Dr Loco says
There should be a division for under 1.8m.
What happens to basketball players under 6ft? What a waste.
We need to be careful. Sometimes in reading these posts (excepting Gary, of course), one gets the sense that tall/big and technical/tactical are mutually exclusive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Van Persie, Henry, Ibrahimovich, Adebayor, Busquets, Zidane, Pique, Ronaldo, Van Basten, Redondo, Carrick, to name a few are/were exceptional technically and high in soccer IQ department. All are 6 feet or taller. I completely nderstand the point that here in the US we pick tall/strong/big almost to the exclusion of everything else. But sometimes I think we lose sight of the fact that you can be both big and technical/teactially astute. And small/short players do not have a monopoly on great technical skill or tactinal nous. Just want to make sure that that point doesn’t get lost.
You are right on RQ…but you need to have a clear player selection criteria if you want to develop a clear identity and game model…that is a must and a key part of the process
What BTW it’s another inexact science:
“Cantera, the inexact science”
There is talk of the quarry of a football club as if it were an exact science, when it be the opposite. Let me talk briefly about the Barca see if I can get closer to the complex reality. In the last ten years there have been all kinds of things: for example, a president thought close; ordered a coach change the game system that had introduced fifteen years, one of the best squads lost the category and causing the disappearance of Barça C , which years later was considered a great success by characters as opposite as Rosell and Cruyff, the best player in the world was engaged in a paper napkin and against the will of the board, two of the most promising emigrated to England and were refichados years later, some big promises would not enter La Masia, other big promises fought fiercely to do, some bright lads decided to accept offers succulent foreign clubs, others rejected them, despite being equally succulent, the brilliant debut World Footballer of the first team also motivated other young strikers were released to a premature debut, which ended badly for all of them, all inferior teams returned to the original game system as it was found that the decision of the head coach only generated interference training, three home grown players took a clean sweep of the podium of the Golden Ball, the rigor and sobriety director of the quarry yielded great results, better than ever, but the new president decided to change the entire leadership of the football training, the new managers, like their predecessors, did things good, fair and poor, the teams continued to play the same system targeted in 1972 and implemented in 1988, with the logical developments, the elevators between teams of different categories worked at full capacity, the coach of the first team, after moving up to new homegrown, had to call for calm and assess that external players also contributed other interesting qualities, which refused to team up with eleven players emerged from La Masia, to avoid confusion, there were tensions between technical of a team and inferior were also a lot of coordination and frank exchange of views, and always, above agreement and disagreement, there unanimity on one thing: it was to train people who were formidable competitors in football, but always with the mime Craftsman, away from industrial manufacturing.
All this can be described as desired, less as an exact science. It is a life cycle, full of successes and failures, ups and downs and curves, as in any field. There have been failures and successes thunderous clamorous because it happens every day and everywhere because life, in short, is effort, training, talent and adaptation, but also random.
This opinion article is written by a pro-MAdrid writer that is simply making excuses for the failure of Real Madrid to implement a system where its development program/cantera players can actually play in the first team.
You see, in Spain, the media is as divided about football as FOx News and MSMBC are divided about politics…
People beleieve what they want to believe depending on what team they like it’s not objective and thus useless
You see, it’s nice to have opinions but some are more informed than others.
This article was written by Marti Perernau
Marti is a journalist / writer recognized in Spain as one of the most knowledge thinkers of the game, of the Barca in particular and especially of the player development / cantera system.
Marti runs a blog that is richer that anything that you can find in English. Besides him many other other writers, coaches, experts contribute: http://www.martiperarnau.com/
Marti wrote “Senda de Campeones” considered a seminal work about La Masia and Barca evolution.
Marti wrote “El largo viaje de Pep” about Pep’s trajectory and rein at Barca.
Finally Marti is a self assumed huge Barca fan. His own daughter grew up playing for Barca feminino futbol system.
You can Marti in person giving some very interesting about Barca here:
BTW, futbol media (specially newpapers) in Spain is very partisan between Real and Barca, with La Marca and AS being located in Madrid (and big Real “supporters”) and Mundo Deportivo and Sport being located in Barcelona (and very pro-Barca oriented)
Hope this helps
I’ve been living in Barcelona 4-5 months out of the year for the last several years. I speak Catalan and Spanish fluently (as well as other languages).
That’s why I wrote my comment about the Spanish football media and its audiences being bias. While I think Spanish jounalists and the Spanish public are some of the more sophisticated and educated in the sport; they are also very passionate and blinded by their loyalty to their team. I’ve seen some many writers in the past change opinions and their stands based on who pays their salary and which team they like…that’s why I find little use in opinion articles. While I enjoy reading El 9 Esportiu de Catalunya, I too get a kick watching the nonsense the most respected pro Barcelona and Madrid say when they go on Punt Pelota (Intereconomia) and Efectivament (Esport 3). I take it all with a grain of salt just like I did with the polarizing comments johan cruyff used to write on Mundo Deportivo before he left to Mexico; or the opinion of Tomás Roncero on AS.
At the end I like to come to my own conclusions based on my understanding of the game; my understanding of the reality of the sport; and the few facts I can find in the sea of opinions regardless of who has written them
Would love to have your insight about any specifics treated on the article
I think the author fail to make his point because he did not see the evolution of a system that relies on it’s futbol base as a natural consequense of strategic planning and change management. In any organization, you will have people who champion ideas and people who don’t. The important thing is to evaluate the outcomes of the plan and proposed changes accordingly. The evolution of Barcelona’s system is a consequense of a plan that has evolved; it’s not an accident. Its internal processes (selection of players, feeding programs, etc). is based on metrics. Players leaving the cantera for economic reasons or staying in hope to make to the first team in the future are things that can be measured as regretable losses or retention success..all this is based on math and organizational planning. Thus it is closer to being a science; or at the very least, a system based on measurable objectives; not an accident.
Andrés Iniesta: Football isn’t a science:
Is Andres a pro-Madrid agitator as well or he just has no clue of what is talking about?
Iniesta, Llorente, Pique, et al were all “discovered” at a futbol 7 tournament; part of sytem established to identify future talent; this was not an accident. This was part of a process. These players are a product of a system that was planned based on econimics, organizational structuring and business decisions; all social sciences…we are speaking about two different things.
In fact half the comments on this blog is about system failures and successes…systems that can be valued and measured using a scientific approach
“In the same style, another 12 year old came out. His name was Messi. He was at La Masia for a month trying to prove himself, but the trainers were not sure. One day I went to the training and in 2 seconds I knew it. Together with his father, who was impatient and worried, we made up a contract right away. The contract is now famous, it’s a napkin! This is how one of best players in the world came out of La Masia.”
Carles “Charly” Rexach, La Masia Director for many years and the man who signed Messi
Highly scientific isn’t it?
You continue to romanticize all this stories as random accidents, and continue to fail to understand that all these players were part a a systemized process.
Who do you think Messi got to go Barcelona for a 15 day tryout in the first place? Seperendipity? a flight ticket jsut felt on his lap one day when he was hanging out in the streets of Argetina? NO he was scouted through a system that Barcelona had put in place. And, he was already in a youth development system with Newell’s. The key here is systems. Again we are speaking about two different things.
Dr Loco says
“systems that can be valued and measured using a scientific approach”
EDfoot, I do believe in a scientific approach. Players such as Messi, Pele, Maradona, Kobe, Lebron, etc are an anomaly. The rest of the players need to be developed in a structured, scientific system similar to the educational system.
Gary Kleiban says
Those examples, of course, are all non-Americans. In this country we’ve got so many coaches that only teach direct play that tall fast skilled players do not become well-rounded. It works up until about U14, then the wheels fall off. If it wasn’t successful at some level coaches wouldn’t continue insisting on it. But coaches in this country only want to win regardless of player development. The recent election is a reminder that as the hispanic population grows in influence, their love of the direct game will also grow. I see it everywhere here in CA-N. Coaches think, “if I only had another Carlos Ruiz, we’d be much better” instead of ” if I develop another Roberto Carlos we’d create many more chances for our attackers”.
Don’t quite get how growth of hispanic population relates to direct soccer.
If we are trying to generalize ff anything hispanics tend to appreciate a more technical and paused style of futbol
Have you seen Mexican national teams play recently??
I’ve watched and refereed many hispanic youth sides. More and more of the top teams in CA-N are hispanic coached, with hispanic players–which makes sense since that’s where the population growth has been in this state. The best hispanic players are quite technical, but they are all midfielders and attackers. I have yet to see any technical defenders. Granted I mostly do U16 and below, but route 1 is the default. These teams all play a counterattacking style, with little/no backpasses, playing out of the back or passing triangles to get the ball over midfield or through the attacking 3rd. You may point to the Mexican U and men’s teams as progress, but I see that as more of an anomaly. The typical hispanic youth side I see plays more like Guatemala in that recent match vs the US. The Mexican Primera league is almost all kick and run as well, so I don’t think that league is a paragon of possession any more than MLS. I think my point is that no matter how good the team or skilled the players, hispanic coaches don’t strive to play possession. This is unfortunate, because I always find the hispanic teams falling short as a result.
It seems to me that is mainly a question of Coaching quality, more than players or soccer culture…once again one of, if not the key “issue” that has been highlighted here
I agree for the most part R2dad. My son (now) plays as a defender for a mostly hispanic team out of east Texas. (Until recently he was a cm so he knows how to keep the ball and quickly transition from attack to defense.) It is a U16 team that primarily plays tournaments (independent team) and also plays in an adult Hispanic league.
The team plays possession but sometimes in the adult league games the hispanic players will ‘panic’ and play a long ball over the top. Our opposition teams often end up resorting to direct play as well. Especially if they can’t break us down. Lack of patience and discipline.
This is where the real issues lie. A lot of youth games are perceived as “must win” affairs. Usually to secure rankings or advancement to a higher level league/competition.
This is why I think sometimes playing lesser teams can benefit a youth team tactically. You have Barca on one end of the spectrum and and say, Stoke City on the other.
Playing direct sometimes has its merits when properly utilized. But it should always be a ‘tactic’…not a ‘strategy’.
Dr Loco says
“More and more of the top teams in CA-N are hispanic coached, with hispanic players”
There are ignorant coaches and players from all backgrounds.
I didn’t write anything about ignorance–there are lots of intelligent people playing and coaching kick and run. But they are in denial about why they/their team fails, and why they continue to fall further and further behind their peers once they get to U14. The benefits of possession never occurs to them.
Dr Loco says
“there are lots of intelligent people playing and coaching kick and run”
Sounds like ignorance…or is it insanity?
All I need is a “team full of Carlos Ruizs” so if 10 get injured then at least 1 healthy will remain and that’s all I need. Not too far from the truth. By the time they realize this no longer works their son’s stop playing soccer for their daddies and they never truly learn the lesson so it perpetuates. There is so serious influential dynamic in US with daddy-ball. Just look to the nickname for Michael Bradlye back in the day “MB90” meaning his dad never took him out, just moved him depending on the score. Now also take into consideration that the twin birthrate has increased 76% between from 1980 until present and we’ve got 2 sometimes 3 of daddy’s sons playing full games moving up when scoring and back when getting scored upon.
If only Carlos Ruiz were with us he’d make all 3 of my sons look their best!
Dr Loco says
“DIRECT PLAY BEARS FRUIT. For all the emphasis placed by Coach Jurgen Klinsmann on technical play and possession, the Americans – lacking their top two attackers, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey – used the long ball and knockdowns effectively to crack open a stingy Russian defense that had not conceded a goal in its four World Cup qualifiers this year.”
All I can say is I wish the Russian team played for the USA.
Juan de Dios says
Your are correct!
Spot on! Zidane’s strengths were his world class control and vision. (Among other things.)
While I can concede that shorter (quick and fast) players often have built in advantage in terms of dribbling, that doesn’t always mean they are technically better.
I think we should be identifying players based on technical ability and tactical accumen first, you can’t discount the larger players either…who are often pigeonholed into being centerbacks and the occasional ‘target forward’.
And, to be realistic there are plenty of world class “athletes” playing at the highest levels.
The more well rounded players (encompassing all the factors) you develop as youth, the easier it is to turn them into complete players later on…regardless of position.
Now we are getting somewhere.
Of course big pro Clubs more and more have a systematic approach ant try to the best of their ability to use “scientific” methods
Of course you need to know for what you look for, and it helps greatly to have a clear defined game model and to define a clear criteria for player selection.
And Barca if almost certainly the most successful example of the importance of methodical approach at work, but…to pretend that this an exact science is ludicrous if not right down disingenuous
It is the nature of the beast that a lot is circumstantial, that many of the more important decisions have to come down to educated but subjective soccer judgment, and that there are many political and other factors that make the process much messier that Clubs would like to admit
It this reality that Marti’s original article captures brilliantly.
And BTW like him, I am a huge Barca fan and I see this club as a model in many different areas, but I am interested in reality and not fairy tales…scientific or not
1) Street soccer doesn’t create good decision making skills – there is no reflection, there usually is no consequence of importance.
2) Street soccer let’s kids try the impossible without repercussions from an adult. Good coaches figure out how not to kill this in their players while improving their decision making.
3) Street soccer affords the time on the ball necessary to develop intrinsically motivated players and is the fertilizer for the passion necessary to become a great player.
4) You only get average players, if they are not intrinsically motivated.
Juan de Dios says
Truth: Barcelona’s philosophy is not dead as many have said…. last game they played with 11 players from their academy, that is insane!!!! And yet they are setting new records in LA LIGA every week and play nice and attractive football..