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Soccer Structures

“In soccer, the master of the game is not the coach, but the game itself.”

Welcome back to Barcelona, Spain!

Today was our first real lesson in the MBP methodology, which lasted roughly 4 hours, and let me tell you, the time flew!

To begin class, Dr. Rude presented us with 3 questions, which at the time seemed relatively simple to answer, but at the completion of the 4 hours, I truly realized the complexity of the questions and the sport as a whole.

We were asked: What is soccer about? What elements comprise soccer? What characteristics does soccer have?

In order to help answer such questions, we watched the opening 15 minutes of the 2008-2009 Barcelona x Real Madrid match in which Barca won 6-2 (sorry to all the Madrid supporters for having to be brought back to that dark day…!). In a game like that, simply watching the opening 15 minutes was enough to answer most questions about soccer.

At the end of the 15 minutes, the 6 of us (including Dr. Rude), brain stormed by rattling off everything that we saw in the opening stages of the match. As we said a word, Dr. Rude wrote down each description under a particular column on the dry-erase board. More specifically the columns were: M-G, G, C, T, P, C, I-P, I-T, and I-C. Yeah, we didn’t know what the letters stood for either. However, as each column accumulated more describing words, I began to generate an idea for what the letters stood for.

Dr. Rude explained to us that soccer is comprised of structures, which the coach must manage. The structures include: Meta-Game, Game, Constellations, Team, Player, Coach, Infra-Player, Infra-Team, and Infra-Coach. I am sure most are able to grasp an understanding of the meaning of each “structure”, but to clarify a few of them: Meta-Game refers to everything that can impact the game but in an indirect way and Constellations refers to a line of players, or more specifically, “assertive-motor communication between 2 or more players”. For Meta-Game, think to Jose Mourinho and how he utilizes press conferences to change the mind of referees or opposing coaches – applying such methods is extremely challenging.

More specifically, as the lesson continued, Dr. Rude explained to us that he and his team of researchers began studying the structures of soccer by referring to research of other subject matters (economics and psychology to name a few), and then applying such findings to the game of soccer. For instance, the ‘Game’ refers to the general systems theory, ‘Constellations’ refers to the information theory, and ‘Player’ refers to evolutive/cognitive psychology. The idea is that these general theories have been applied to the game of soccer, and in my opinion, makes perfect sense and fantastic

Today’s lesson was challenging because Dr. Rude asked us to think about soccer in a true scientific and analytical way. At first it was challenging, however, as the lesson continued, the paradigms became clear!

Until next time,​

Twitter: @BrettUttley & @TOGsoccer

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