Universal Fundamentals & Know Your Why

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Barcelona, Spain.

We just completed the 10th week of the MBP Master in High Performance Soccer in which we completed the universal tactical fundamentals, attended the Champions league match, and had our third sports psychology session with Xavi Garcia.

To begin the week, Eric Lira taught us the Universal Fundamentals for the three zones of the field – Starting the Game Zone (SGZ), Building the Game Zone (BGZ), and Finishing Zone (FZ). To clarify, the ‘Universal Tactical Fundamentals’ are the optimal responses in each zone. The idea is that the fundamentals in each zone apply to any player that enters that specific zone. For instance, if the game brings the center-back to the FZ, they must apply the fundamentals of that particular zone.

Before I explain the universal fundamentals, take a minute to reflect on the complexity of soccer for a given player and coach. During the course of a match, they have to be cognizant of their Individual Fundamentals per Position, Line fundamentals, and the Universal Fundamentals. Not only that, but the coach is responsible for clearly defining all of the player responsibilites within their game model.

Starting the Game Zone

Defensive Blocks:

  1. Maintaining the balance

  2. Identifying the player to mark

  3. Defending the on-ball player

  4. Defense in risk areas

Offensive Blocks:

  1. Seeking superiority

To explain further, in the ‘defense in risk areas’, one fundamental states ‘Continuing defending after the first play.’ The idea is that when the ball is in risk areas, the team must be prepared and alert to continue defending after the initial defensive intervention. In the clip below, go to the 58-second mark and watch the defensive efforts from Spain. Although Holland ended up with a shot on goal, notice the intention from Spain to continue defending after the initial header by Carles Puyol.

Building the Game Zone

Offensive Blocks

  1. Organizing the offensive game

Defensive Blocks

  1. Defending the space

  2. Defending on-ball player

Within the block, ‘organizing the offensive game’, there is a fundamental that states, ‘seeking a game in progression, assessing the risk/benefit of the passes’. In essence, the players in the BGZ have to try to seek passes that can progress the team to create scoring chances. In order to properly execute the fundamental, the player with the ball must make smart decisions that are not risky for the team. The idea is that it is ‘safer’ to play a risky, line-breaking pass if the team is organized in case the opposition intercepts and tries to play a counter-attack. The video below is a compilation of Xavi’s top 10 assists from the 2009-2010 season. When watching, pay close attention to the general shape of FC Barcelona when Xavi attempts the pass. Xavi is one of the best players ever at ‘seeking a game in progression’. Enjoy!

And now, for the final set of tactical fundamentals!

Finishing Zone

Offensive Blocks

  1. Seeking information

  2. Continuity in actions

  3. Organizing the offensive game

  4. Using advantages

Defensive Blocks

  1. Defending the space

  2. Defending the on-ball player

Mastering the finishing zone is one of the hardest aspects of soccer due to the density of defenders surrounding the penalty box. When entering the finishing zone, the players have to think and move quickly in order to take advantage of any possible imbalance within the opponents’ defensive structure. Specifically, within the ‘continuity in actions’ block, a fundamental states, ‘seeking a wall pass in order to take advantage of a space quickly’. I will let Messi and Dani Alves describe how to execute the wall-pass in the final third!

So, there you have it, we have completed 168 tactical fundamentals!

After we finished the tactical fundamentals, we had our third session with Xavi Garcia. The session with Xavi was great as he spoke to us about ‘developing our why’, intuition, and building our own code of ethics. There is no doubt that the sessions with Xavi have been extremely helpful. The reason I say that is because the MBP Methodology is incredibly specific and challenging, and with that, many new ideas and goals are generated on a daily basis, which can lead to uncertainty or confusion. Xavi uses psychological techniques to help us organize our thoughts and goals in a way that brings a sense of clarity to our minds. There is no question that the lessons with Xavi are strategically scheduled!

During the middle of the week, we attended the UEFA Champions League matches between FC Barcelona and Bate (both the U-19 and 1st team). As I mentioned before, the air surrounding Barcelona on European nights is truly special! Carlos Alena put on a clinic for the U-19’s in their 2-0 win, which was a great prelude to the show that Neymar and Suarez put on at the Camp Nou!

Here are some photos from the matches!

I look forward to sharing next week as we begin learning the training methodology!

Thanks for reading.

Twitter: @BrettUttley & @TOGSoccer

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