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An Analyzed View of Popular Football Strategies and Game Tactics

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Its main components (technical, tactical, physical and psychosocial) together with the variables of the game (a player, at each moment of the game, must make a choice considering the ball, space, partner, opponent at the same time) make it a highly complex sport in terms of the situation. For this reason, over the years, numerous methodologies have been developed for the evolutionary growth and training of the young soccer player.

These methods favor the programming of the season through a “macro-cycle” divided into cycles dedicated to the improvement of conditional capacities (joint mobility, strength, endurance, speed) with tasks without the ball. Also, and possibly using tests to elaborate data and analyze eventual "improvements", often working with limited intensity on technical-tactical tasks.

Similar methodologies to the traditional model have been developed with the difference of greater use of the ball to develop the individual technical and tactical ability, but always to reach and improve the physical component of each player.

Considering the development and physical growth of young people (and the continuous change of their body, especially in adolescence) and to improve their skills, the physical component would have to be trained through the improvement of coordinative capacities, especially in the golden age for boys, from 7 to 12 years old, and then fine-tune coordination through technical gestures in the following years.

Over the years, true teaching models have been developed in grassroots football, capable of responding to teaching problems by coaches and above all, to improve the learning of young people.

For this reason, the best teaching methods for young people from our point of view would be the following:

  • "Coerver Coaching" method
  • Spanish integrated method
  • Tactical periodization method

Coerver method

The method devised in the 70s by the Dutch coach Wiel Coerver, at that time technical director of youth football at Ajax, who was sensing the importance of the performance of each player within the team's game, analyzed the great players with videos and concluded that their skills, in particular their skills in controlling the ball and their abilities in ''1 on 1'' situations, could have been elaborated as a teaching tool for young footballers for the development, improvement and the consolidation of all the individual technical and tactical capacities of the soccer player.

That is why he created hundreds of specific exercises (individual and group) intending to exalt the basic technique in different game situations.

The schematization that best represents the didactic progression of the method is the pyramid. The base of the pyramid is characterized by the technical element of control and mastery of the ball, which represents the starting point for the construction of the young soccer player. The successive phases that we find inside the pyramid are:

  • Control and pass
  • The feint in 1vs1 situations
  • Speed
  • The completion
  • Group attacks

Integrated Spanish method

This is best explained by Bryant Lazaro, a football coach from the United States, who recently signed up as the first team head coach of Norwegian first division side, Øygarden FK.

Bryant Lazaro acquired his professional experience at the top-flight clubs in Spanish La Liga, Levant U.D. and Sevilla F.C. He is the youngest football coach from the U.S. in Europe, and has successfully made a strong impact with his tactical skills and vision.

Bryant Lazaro shares his knowledge on the classic Spanish style of football, which he experienced and got influenced from during his tenure in La Liga. He adds: “In certain countries, there is even now the custom of training the different training components (technical, tactical, physical, psychosocial) separately.

“The Spanish Integrated Method includes structured tasks with the use of the ball capable of training the four components simultaneously, recreating specific game situations depending on the objectives to be achieved.

“Many Spanish quarries work using the ball in all tasks and the main component that they want to improve is the tactical component. The sensitive phase of learning must be optimized by teaching the technical gesture. Furthermore, up to the under 14 categories, players are not divided by position but rather try different positions.

“In the best quarries, to optimize ball possession towards the continuous search for maintenance, from construction to completion, the positions used have a terminology based on the position around the ball: inside, end, pivot, vertex. The technique in a dynamic way and the offensive phase, in general, is privileged. Each workout is programmed in phases, which are generally 5.”

The 5 phases of training

1. Phase 1

This is the initial phase in which, generally, each player repeats the proposed technical gesture without an opponent, working analytically and after having acquired the correct efficiency and body gestures. Repeat it to improve execution speed.

Generally, the players work individually each with a ball to improve mastery of touches. This phase can be completed with progressions in which players work in small groups to improve reception and transmission.

Players work with both legs.

2. Phase 2

The players work with the introduction of the opponent, the technique is added in a game context, through the principles of individual tactics in the two phases.

The player is encouraged to think quickly, " problem-solving”. Therefore, he has to learn to find a solution in the shortest time possible.

Tasks can be done from 1v1 to 3v3 or with quick transitions of the two phases.

3. Phase 3

Ball possession proposed in variable spaces also with variable numbers of players. Depending on the categories, they are carried out to improve technical-tactical skills, specific speed and fantasy and creativity in each player.

Rondos, mobile possessions are widely used to conquer a free space. For advanced levels, position games are proposed.

4. Phase 4

Collective tactical match, themed, in which players prepare for real situations that they may face during a match. The rules can be about the number of touches, transitions, search for wildcards, creation of numerical superiority with an attack to the spaces in-depth or in amplitude to improve the completion.

5. Phase 5

Free game, in which the coach verifies the learning of the players based on what has been proposed during the day's session.

Method of tactical periodization

Tactical periodization is a training methodology born in Portuguese Universities. Among the famous coaches who have spread it internationally, we can remember Mourinho, Queiroz, Villas-Boas. It is an integrated method (all four components are trained simultaneously) in which the main component is tactics. Such a methodology is the extremization of situational work.

Generally, the coach schedules the season through a macro-cycle and divides it into short periods such as mesocycles. With this method, the weekly micro-cycle is of fundamental importance, the programming of work in a short term, with the maximum attention in the planning of each training session, structured to search for the maximum intensity and the maximum specification of each task.

The coach draws up a schedule based on a game model created by him, taking into account the philosophy of the club, the quality and characteristics of the players and the principle of the game that the coach intends to use in all phases of a game.

The coach must have a deep knowledge of the game situations that they would like to create or that can be verified during a match. Therefore, the set of principles from which the sub principles of team behavior derive, define the organization, giving an own identity bearing in mind the four main moments of the game:

  • Defensive phase
  • Offensive transition
  • Offensive phase
  • Defensive transition

The model defines the system of relationships between the players of the team in each situation. The model will be the mode in which a coach wants her team to play:

  • Attacking (positional attack, counterattack)
  • Defending (pressing, man-to-man pressure)
  • Transition

Example

A practical example to facilitate understanding: if the choice of a coach's model included the construction of the game on the ground from the goalkeeper, the coach would have to create a precise geometric organization of his players in specific areas for maintenance as a principle of the game of ball possession despite the opposing pressure.

For example, central defenders open to receive from the goalkeeper, full-backs advance down the wings to create options in amplitude and that midfielders delay their position to receive the foot in a way that systematically creates triangles to ensure some maintenance of ball possession. The sub-principles that the coach could adopt will be the provisions if the opponent adopts pressing in one way or another (example:

For this reason, instead of adopting tasks without the ball to improve endurance, proposing themed matches in which a position as in a match will place the players, will allow the team to create links between players to improve the tactical organization that during the match will be decisive (training the physical part at the same time).