Situations: Emergencies Vs Opportunities

Posted: October 27, 2011 in Coaching Concepts, Movement Training
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Emergencies and Opportunities

In any sport athletes are required to execute some action such as a pass, shot, and change of direction to name a few.  In an isolated situation a player has plenty of time and minimum pressures and can execute the skill or action to the highest level of their technical potential.  It is when pressures arise that technique becomes compromised and executions become inaccurate or undesirable.  There are many pressures that a player can experience and it is reducing the number of and stress of these pressures that allow players to execute actions efficiently.

In the first instance technique limits the execution of an action which is directly related to the physical capability of the player.  This is a player’s motor skill and the body’s ability to utilise the musculoskeletal system appropriately for the action.

Now, assuming that a player has a high degree of technical and physical capability to execute given actions the outcome is now pressured by the time the player has to execute and the opposition’s intentions and execution of the opposing action.  As the pressures become greater the player’s technique gets stressed but also the numbers of tactical outcomes that are present to the player also decrease.

As an example a footballer who is moving to make a tackle or get into a position to jockey can only do so effectively if they have been able to move to the area they need to be in to perform the tackle.  I refer to this area as the action zone.  If the player is in the action zone in time they will find themselves on balance and able to execute the action to the highest degree.  They will also have a number of tactical outcomes that they can perform.  Maybe it is to make the tackle or to position the body to push the attacker on to their weaker foot or away from the goal.  Whatever the tactical outcome, the player must be in the action zone on balance in order to execute.

If we were to generalise this situation we could say that if a player reaches the action zone on balance and can execute an action to their full technical capability then the player has the maximum number of tactical opportunities available.  In the reverse scenario a player arrives late to the action zone or in an extreme example doesn’t reach the action zone the player then enters an emergency situation.  Here the player is forced to cope and will do whatever is available to them to try and execute the desired action.  This has two major implications; one the player puts excess stress on the body increasing the injury risk and secondly drastically reducing the tactical opportunities available. This puts the control in the favour of the opposition increasing their tactical opportunities.  The knock on effect is that the team becomes stretched and cannot function as desired and others are expected to pick up the pieces.

The ideal scenario is that players train for the desired and expected situations and work to ensure that they arrive in the action zone on balance.  This would entail designing drills and patterns of movement that players experience within their game and within training associate the situations with the drill.  In doing this, players become fully aware of the tactical opportunities available to them and the impact of these on the game.

Our objective as trainers is to provide the player with the maximum tactical opportunity. We must also be aware that this is an ideal and that we must also prepare our players for emergencies so that should they find themselves entering into an emergency situation their body is able to cope.  Although the tactical opportunities are reduced a player must understand what their intentions are when entering the emergency and executing some action effectively.  Again any drill that is designed for an individual must associate with the game requirements from a technical and tactical standpoint.

In terms of programming and drill design it is safe to say that every player is individual.  The obvious is that they play in different positions.  Within these positions each person has a personality that dictates preferred tactical opportunities. There will also be elements of what the coach, manager, team require that affect the drills.  Taking all of this into consideration we can design sets of drills that challenge the player in movement patterns that are tactically and technically relevant. The key is to actively monitor these drills as frequently as possible to see improvements.  The beauty of this approach is that we can now be certain that players will improve on the field through our training.


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