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Player Structures and IFPs

Welcome back to Barcelona, Spain.

In the final two sessions of the week, we started to dive into the structures of the player in terms of how to develop training sessions in addition to the Individual Fundamentals per Position or IFP from a tactical perspective.

Let’s first begin with the structures of the player in relation how to train the player. Dr. Rude explained to us that when designing a training session, the coach must first analyze the player and adapt the session to the specific structures of the player. When speaking about ‘structures of the player’, I am referring to six structures that exist (or should exist) when developing a ‘structured training’. In essence, there are three main structures and three sub-structures that are constantly activated in soccer (and the player).

Main Structures

  1. Cognitive (Tactical) – Is the integration of (Perception ßàExecution ßàDecision making)

  2. Coordination – Functions to perform desire movement.

  3. Conditional – (Physiological) Strength, endurance, speed, and range of movement.


  1. Socio-Affective – The interaction with the rest of the players.

  2. Emotional – Allows the player to build the self and recognize what they are capable of doing.

  3. Creative-Expressive – Allows players to express themselves.

The structures of the player are important to comprehend in order to develop players (and subsequently teams) in team sports. Dr. Rude explained to us that soccer is an integrated sport with regards to the body & mind, training process & teaching process, and body & environment to name a few. The idea is that in order to optimize performance in the game, the training process must activate all the structures of the player in a synergistic manner (because that is what the game demands).

At first, comprehending the training process in relation to the structures of the player was challenging because my previous knowledge was that training sessions should simply integrate the technical, tactical, psychological, and physical elements. While that is certainly necessary, we learned that our training sessions will improve by also adhering to the structures of the player.

In the following session, Eric Lira (UEFA A License), taught us the Individual Fundamentals per Position (IFP).

In essence, an IFP is the optimal response in a given situation within the game. The idea is that every situation on the pitch has a correlating optimal response, and in order for a team to operate in a synchronized manner, every player must have a clear understanding of their IFP’s.

To take it one step further, Eric explained to us that players must also understand the IFP’s for multiple positions due to the unpredictability of the sport. For instance, within the FC Barcelona game model, when Dani Alves makes an overlapping run into the final third, he no longer executes the IFP for the full-back position, but instead, acquires the IFP of the right winger (in this given situation).

Eric went on to teach us that there are three types of IFPs. An IFP can be isolated, chained, or merged.

Isolated – 1 action alone.

Chained – 2 actions linked together (i.e. Center midfielder receiving a diagonal pass from the center-back, and then switching the point of attack.)

Merged – 2 actions at the same time (i.e. Individual defense in risk areas with correct body position to see ball and player.)

In that particular session with Eric, we discussed the IFP’s for the center-backs, which was extremely enlightening. After discussing all of the tactical fundamentals for the center-backs, I realized that I was in the learning stage of not knowing that I knew some of the fundamentals. The reason I say that is because after learning the 12 individual fundamentals of the position, I realized that I knew about 4 of them, but I could not define them as fundamentals. To be honest, what is so remarkable about the MBP Master in High Performance Soccer Coaching is the fact that through analyzing more games than humanly possible in addition to conducting years and years of research, Dr. Rude and his colleagues have been able to put concrete definitions to tactical moves that happen in all games, lines, constellations, and positions.

For instance, one fundamental of the center-backs in the block of “defending the space” states that the center-back must follow the attacker when they run through the space between center-backs. Within this fundamental, the center-back furthest from the ball must follow the runner for at least two steps until they are offsides, at which point the CB tracking the run must immediately sprint back to regain their shape within the defensive line. Surely I have seen many center-backs track runners, but to define 1. Who tracks the runner – 2. When to track the runner – 3. What to do once the attacker is offsides – is a great example of the detailed information being taught and learned.

One of the key takeaways from the lesson on IFP’s is the idea that each fundamental is trainable, and must be trained in order properly execute the coach’s game model. Eric explained that the Individual Fundamentals per Position are based on the game model of the coach. For instance, with reference to my previous example, if the coach’s game model does not call for an offsides trap, the fundamental of following the attacker until they are offsides might not apply.

The last two classroom sessions of the week were packed with information, and in order to apply the theoretical knowledge, we attended the FCB U-19 and FCB B matches to analyze the IFP’s of the center-backs. The FCB U-19 match was at the training complex, and as you will see in pictures (below), the complex is truly incredible. The style of play for the U-19’s and the B team was and is identical to the first team.

On a side note, one really cool anecdote is that during the U-19 match, I walked into the coffee shop that is located in the complex during half-time of the game. As I walked in, a gentleman held for the door for me and said hello. At the time I did not realize that the gentleman that held the door for me was one of the directors at the club. When I returned to watch the game, I saw that a group of men were standing off in the distance, attentively watching the U-19 match. Dr. Rude explained that the men watching the game were all of the head directors at the club, keeping tabs on all the youth players. It was a cool experience because we all read that FCB is always keeping on eye out for rising youth players, and to see the directors watching the youth was exciting. In fact, a center-midfielder (17 years old) who dominated the game on Saturday, earned his first call up to training with the first team during yesterdays training session

Analyzing FCB B

FCB U-19 Field

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the post.​

Twitter: @BrettUttley & @TOGSoccer

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