Soccer is Hyper-Complex

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Barcelona, Spain.

The 9th week of the MBP Master in High Performance Soccer included lessons on the next soccer structure, the team, in addition to two more lessons on physical conditioning from Dr. Altarriba.

Here we go.

As I said in one of the first posts, soccer is a game full of uncertainty, and it is the coach’s responsibility to reduce as much uncertainty as possible. In order to do so, the coach must manage all of the soccer structures. Do you remember them? … Meta-Game, Game, Team, Infra-Team, Constellations, Player, Infra-Player, Coach, and Infra-Coach.

After learning the 168 tactical fundamentals, I thought I had seen it all in terms of being blown away by the information and material, however, I quickly found out that the MBP rollercoaster continues to move even stronger.

When speaking with friends and colleagues about my experiences in Barcelona, I often say that the MBP course has great respect for the complexity of soccer, and that became even more evident when we discussed ‘the team’. It is not everyday that the game of soccer is being related to theories such as Information Theory and Complex Thinking. Dr. Rude taught us that using the Information Theory principles is an effective way to disorganize the opponent while your team organizes itself. The theory is a balance between entropy (disorganization) and negentropy (organization). In essence, the more information the team has (in reference to the opponent), the more disorganization the team can export (to the opponent) while the team organizes itself.

To better explain, there is a famous story from the 2008-2009 season when Pep Guardiola called Lionel Messi at 10:30pm, the night before the match verse Real Madrid. See the image below, which is an excerpt from PEP CONFIDENTIAL by Marti Perarnau.

The idea is that Pep and FC Barcelona were able to use the environmental information (the space between Madrid’s lines) in an effort to cause further disorganization to Real Madrid (Messi playing as a ‘false 9’), while maintaining their own organization (FCB won 6-2).

Dr. Rude explained to us that the team has ‘memory and can learn’. The idea is that by training appropriately (in relation to the game model), the team is able to recall the specific situations from training and ultimately execute the appropriate responses in the game. The great Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Therefore, in order to appropriately ‘teach and involve’ the players in training, the planning of the micro-cycles must be structured properly. As I discussed in a previous post, the organization of the training week (micro-cycle) could be in the form of Tactical Periodization or Structured Training. However, Tito Ramallo proposed a training methodology called ‘Tactical Intensity”, which is a method that combines both tactical periodization and structured training.

During the 9th week, Dr. Altarriba taught us for two lessons, and he spent a great amount of time teaching us the details of the Tactical Intensity (TI) methodology. In essence, TI is a methodology to quantify the tactical load of a training exercise. Dr. Altarriba explained to us that the tactical density of a training exercise is dependent upon the number of moments the exercise includes (defense, transition from defense to offense, offense, and transition from offense to defense) and the number of players on a given team – individual (1 player), group (2-6 players), collective (6-11 players).

From there, the tactical density of the training exercise is plugged into an equation that ultimately quantifies the tactical intensity of the training exercise. The equation is (# of sets X # of repetitions X exercise duration X average heart rate X drill load unit index X exercise tactical density / 500). In essence, the final number is related to the mental fatigue or ‘tactical fatigue’.

To paint a better picture, I will show an example of quantifying only the tactical density of an exercise. Let’s use a simple 2v2 + 1 exercise. The tactical density of the training exercise could be 2, 5, 8, or 11 depending upon the design of the exercise. The idea is that because 2 players are on one team, we know that the exercise is categorized as a ‘group tactic’. However, depending on the number of moments in the exercise will determine the degree of ‘group tactics’.

Dr. Altarriba made it clear to us that the soccer capacities of player will be the reference point for the determinants of the exercise. The determinants include space, opposition, execution time, and number of contacts.

In the sports world right now, sports science departments are spending a great amount of time and money to quantify the training loads for each training session. Many clubs throughout the world have begun implementing technologies such as GPS and heart rate monitors to better quantify training sessions in an effort to maximize performance and subsequently, reduce injuries. In a high performance model, Tactical Intensity could be a great system to implement in conjunction with the other monitoring technologies.

As you can imagine, the 9th week was mentally draining, but it was an extremely important week as we progress to the methodological aspects of the MBP method (how to train the fundamentals).

To finish off the week, we went to the FCB training facilities to analyze two youth games – U-10 and U-19B. In addition to the two youth games, I was able to see the women’s game between Sporting Club Heulva and FC Barcelona. One of my best friends, Veronica Napoli, plays for Heulva, and in the closing moments of the game, Veronica scored the tying goal against FC Barcelona. Here is the release on the official FC Barcelona website.

Watching games at FC Barcelona's training facility is unbelievable because more often than not, you will bump into an important current or former professional player. This past weekend was no different. Do you know the player I am posing with?

I have attached some photos from the Camp Nou tour! What a stadium!

Thanks for reading!

Twitter: @BrettUttley & @TOGSoccer

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