Emil Forsberg – Growing up on a street of sport (Game-Play-Learn)

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Emil Forsberg is a Swedish international footballer who plays for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga

Despite its modest booklet format the new updated version of Spela, Lek och Lär (1) roughly translates as Game, Play, Learn- is very much a central part of the Swedish FA’s new coach education program. The booklet is connected to an online web portal containing some very interesting videos about child-youth football discussing the values that all football in Sweden should stand for. The purpose of this excellent booklet and web-portal is to help promote a common mind-set within all football clubs in Sweden based on 5 simple principles.

  • Football for all children and young people
  • Focus on Joy
  • Effort and Learning
  • Sustainable Sports
  • Fair Play

One of the most insightful and impactful videos on the web portal is an interview with Swedish International and RB Leipzig Bundesliga player Emil Forsberg. For me Emil Forsberg was a key player in Sweden’s successful qualification for the World Cup. His intelligent and hard- working performance against Italy helped Sweden to defy both odds and critics to deny Italy for the first time since 1958 (ironically held in Sweden) a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The following is a translated transcript (3) of Emil Forsbergs interview from “Spela, Lek och Lär”. Emils words give us much to reflect on when we consider:

  • Child-youth development in football and the emergence of the “race to the bottom” culture

https://footblogball.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/challenging-the-race-to-the-bottom-as-many-as-possible-as-long-as-possible-as-good-as-possible/

  • The commercialisation of child-youth sports (2). How child-youth sports has become an attractive market for private companies. This varies from initiatives specialising in early and earlier commercial ventures to give your child a so called “head start” to companies specialising in offering the services of their “professional coaches” and “individual styled leadership and coaching” for your child. These commercial alternatives can of course be a complement but it is still difficult to foresee their long -term impact on the democratic culture that child-youth football should be. This should not be overlooked and it remains to be seen how NGB’s, associations, parents and young athletes will navigate through this changing landscape.

My Street

“For 4 or 5 of us (on our street) it was football direct. But it wasn’t just football. We played tennis, table tennis, floorball, ice hockey. In the street I grew up it was mainly ‘sports families’, it became a ‘sports street’ and this is how I got in to sport”.

Many Sports

“Take part in as many sports as you can as long as you can. I think that it is wrong to focus early on one sport. Maybe at 13 you think that Ice hockey is something that you want to focus on but then when you are 15 you may think that despite all the time and effort it was not such a good idea. These days there is a far too early focus on only playing football. I played football and floorball until I was 17 nearly turning 18. I thought it was perfect but maybe not always optimal but I felt that at 17 that football is something that I wanted to focus on”.

Professional Career Abroad

I began my career as a professional footballer outside of Sweden quite late, just as I was turning 23. I never really felt stressed, I just thought that is it happens it happens. I live for the day and I think that I must be as professional as possible as a footballer. It should be fun and you should think that it is fun to play football. You shouldn’t stress.

Swedish Football

Swedish football education is good. You can get a good footballing education within Swedish football and you should dare to try your best. The quality in Swedish football is very good. Many good players have come through the ‘Allsvenskan’ (Swedish Premier League). We should believe in Swedish football.

Children

Most importantly children should not stress, leave children be children, be free and again it is very import that they have fun. That is something that I have learned since I was a small child. Have fun, do what you feel is good, don’t let others push you in one direction. You should choose for yourself what you want to do”.

Reference:

(1) Spela, Lek och Lär (SISU Idrottsböcker)

(2) https://utbildning.sisuidrottsbocker.se/fotboll/tranare/tranarutbildning/fsll/Allt vanligare med kommersiell barn och ungdomsidrott (‘Idrottsforskning” , Karin Redelius & Andreas Svensson, October 2017)

(3) interview with Emil Forsberg /Swedish only) https://utbildning.sisuidrottsbocker.se/fotboll/tranare

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Challenging the Race to the Bottom (As many as possible, as long as possible, as good as possible)

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There is a clear need for the state and NGB’s to look at youth development in sport from a more ecological perspective.Our systems still do not account for the complexity and nonlinearity of human development. So, maybe research needs to be grounded in a broader ecological context?

One of the most read pieces on Footblogball is from January 2017  – The Race to the Bottom (adventures in early and earlier talent ID)  see here .

It is great to see  the same discussion getting even more exposure in January 2018. Prime time Swedish national television with successful NHL talent scout Håkan Andersson and  international TV (BT Sports) where ex pros such as Frank Lampard, Martin Keown and English national football manager Gareth Southgate contributed their knowledge and experience to the debate.

The NHL Ice Hockey Scout

Håkan Andersson is director of European scouting for  NHL team Detroit Red Wings. He   he has won four Stanley Cup Championships as a member of the Detroit Red Wings organisation. Recently he gave an interview on one of Swedens most viewed morning TV programs to give some insight in to scouting, talent identification and if we can really predict the future. After 27 years of experience he has some very valuable reflections and  advice for parents, players, coaches and Governing Bodies. 

I have done my best to give an accurate translation of the interview (added in sub-titles)

 

Ex Professional Footballers and England national team manager enter the debate

The Race to the Bottom phrase got name checked in a very interesting discussion on BT Sports where some ex pro’s, current English football manager and author Michale Calvin spoke about modern academy structures  in child-youth football and how they contribute to  a culture that is essentially treating children as mini-adults.

 

Many can talk the talk but few  walk the walk

There are many National Sports Associations and clubs displaying “political enthusiasm” and presenting their education based on best practice and scientific principles. However, using research to support policy or convince funders is markedly different to the notion of evidence-based practice (Holt, N. L., Pankow, K., Camiré, M., Côté, J., Fraser-Thomas, J., Macdonald, D. J., . . . Tamminen, K. A. (2017). Factors associated with using research evidence in national sport organisations). In this context, when referring to evidence based practice I am not just referring to  the quality of practice in training, but practicing and evolving a purposeful and supportive culture in and around this, for players, coaches, parents, leaders and community.  I feel that this more holistic point of view that embraces a broader ecological perspective is very important if we want to bridge the theory-practice gap. All this is characterized by using research to help inform decision-making at all levels. This places huge responsibility on the coach education courses (design and implementation) and the standard of coach educators employed by NGB’s. For reference see – The Coach Educator, the Coach and Coach Education.

To quote Jamie Hamilton (twitter) “we need to encourage critical thinking at all levels of the game”.

Many youth sport systems fail to account for the complexity and non-linearity of human development

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Recently a research paper  that I wrote with some colleagues ( James Vaughan & Dennis Hörtin) at AIK Solna in Sweden (who are going through an interesting period of informed evolution) and FC Barcelona was published. We stated that the “approach adopted by our group is found on the recognition that many youth sport systems fail to account for the complexity and non-linearity of human development”. We recognise that talent is not defined by a young athlete’s fixed set of genetic or acquired components. Talent should be understood as a dynamically varying relationship between the constraints imposed by the tasks experienced, the physical and social environment, the motivational climate and the personal resources of a performer (Araújo et al., 2006; Duarte et al., 2012; Hristovski et al., 2012).

To bridge the theory-practise gap, we utilised the Athlete Talent Development Environment (ATDE: Heneriksen et al., 2010; Larsen et al., 2013) to ground development within a broader ecological context.

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(Copyright Player Development Project 2016)

“. . . a dynamic system comprising a) an athlete’s immediate surroundings at the micro-level where athletic and personal development take place, b) the interrelations between these surroundings, c) at the macro-level, the larger context in which these surroundings are embedded, and d) the organizational culture of the sports club or team, which is an integrative factor of the ATDE’s effectiveness in helping young talented athletes to develop into senior elite athletes” (Henriksen et al., 2010 p. 160)

Future collaborations between AIK Stockholm (Research and Development department) and FC Barcelona (Methodology department) will not only investigate development at the task/practical level but also at the levels of society and culture.

As many as possible, as long as possible as good as possible.

The Draft

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Thanks to  Alan Dunton for the pic

 

References:

  • Heneriksen, K., Stambulova, N., and Roessler, K. K. (2010). A holistic approach to athletic talent development environments: a successful sailing milieu. Psychol. Sport Exerc. 11, 212–222. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2009.10.005
  • Holt, N. L., Pankow, K., Camiré, M., Côté, J., Fraser-Thomas, J., Macdonald, D. J., . . . Tamminen, K. A. (2017). Factors associated with using research evidence in national sport organisations
  • Duarte, R., Araújo, D., Correia, V., and Davids, K. (2012). Sport teams as superorganisms: implications of sociobiological models of behaviour for research and practice in team sports performance analysis. Sports Med. 42, 633–642. doi: 10.1007/BF03262285

The Concept of Football Interactions

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Following on from Coaching the Emergence of Football Interaction (see here)

The concept of football interactions applied in a nonlinear pedagogy can help challenge coaching cultures that separate the player –environment system that has found its way in to the fabric of organised child sport and give us an understanding as to how we can design learning environments in youth football.

Many thanks to Ben Galloway (twitter) for putting this video together

Viewed as a unified complex phenomena Football interactions in youth football, how players coordinate their behaviour in the game with the behaviour of others (social coordination) is an interacting, complex and emerging behaviour that can be considered as an adaptive function and can be captured in the term football interactions (O’Sullivan, Hörtin). Football Interactions (dribble, pass, running off the ball, tackling, closing space….)include all the interactions between the parts of a system. They are complex in the sense that they are the accomplishment of all the (sub) systems involved up to the point of perceiving and acting in the environment. Football interactions are always dependent on circumstances, are historical, cultural, situational and are the players means to utilise affordances on the environment.

You can view a selection of other videos from Ben Galloway here

Coaching the Emergence of Football Interactions (Linking practice & theory)

Boys 09

Following on from the ideas suggested in my last blog (see here) we look at how these concepts applied in practice can help coaches form a more complete picture of the player-environment system and give an understanding as to how we can design learning environments in youth football.

To paraphrase Gibson (1979/1986): If we want to understand the objective reality of affordances, it must be clear that it is the practice (youth football) in which an ability, expressed in football interactions is embedded.

In youth football, how players coordinate their behaviour in the game with the behaviour of others with respect to their surroundings create opportunities for action or football interactions (see definition). These opportunities for action are affordances, they arise, decay and disappear giving rise to multiple variations in opportunities for subsequent football interactions inviting different football interactions depending on the abilities available in the environment.

Football interactions (dribble, drive, pass, close space, open space..) are the players means to utilise the affordances in their environment.

 

Design tasks that simulate aspects of the performance environment and selectively introduce the young player to the right aspects of the environment and their affordances.

 Boys & Girls (8 and 9 years)

Session 1

Designed games (3v3, 4v4, 4v2, 3v1, 4v1, 4v2…..) through manipulation of task constraints (number of players, pitch size etc.) we challenged the players to answer the question- Is it harder to defend a larger space or a smaller space?

General consensus was that it is harder to defend a larger space.

What implications does this have for the team in possession?

The kids decided that when in possession they had to try and create a large space to play in (they want to make it hard for their opponents to recover the ball). Simple 4v4, 4v2, 3v3 (+joker) games were used to test their reasoning.

When the team in possession behave like this they are creating and opening up possibilities for action also referred to as affordances.

Session 2:

Challenge: When in possession, try to find and create time and space to have the possibility to receive the ball with the foot furthest away.

Note no mention of left or right foot (we want to minimise any internal focus of attention). The focus (external) is on finding and creating space and the time. (From a coaching perspective, this was introducing the concept of “ubication”- state or quality of positioning- not to the players but to coaches). The idea of receiving the ball in time and space and possibly with the foot furthest away is situation dependent can implicitly develops the emergence of a good body profile while finding the time and space to do this implicitly develops the emergence of good positioning, all this while promoting an external focus of attention so that player is open to the field of affordances and can search, discover, exploit. Also, the decision-making possibilities of the player in possession is determined by the state and quality of positioning of teammates and opponents.

Session 3

Continued working on ideas from the first two days. Discussed the concepts of “gaps”. What are they and how do we identify them? How do we exploit them?

Designed games similar to the games played over the last 2 days. The answers that emerged from these games (first through football interactions) was that a gap between two players gave the player in possession the possibility to use football interactions such as dribble the ball or pass the ball through the gap depending on the situation. We (the coaches) discussed how young players exploited the affordance of a gap depended on the quality and state (ubication) of positioning of teammates and defenders and the capabilities of the individuals.

How players perceive and utilise football interactions on a similar affordance (a gap between two players) often affords them different things. It may well afford a player like Messi to dribble through the gap or a player like Xavi to pass through the gap to an oncoming forward. These individual differences in perception and thus utilisation of football interactions is influenced by their unique personal “effectivities”, or put another way, capabilities to act on the possibilities invited by the dynamic affordance in the environment.

Example of the emergence of football interactions discussed in 4v4 game

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ic7Rv7v2xXA&feature=youtu.be

  • Affordances created by width and depth (emerge and decay)
  • Affordance of a gap between 2 players
  • Affordances acted on, exploited and created by football interactions

By deliberately designing the environment to be more compatible with the action capabilities of the young learners we help the player to learn through perceptual attunement how to acquire the ability to scale information to their own action capabilities (i.e. calibration) (Fajen, Riley, and Turvey 2009).

Session 4

Develop the idea of “finding gaps”.

The previous session we designed training around identifying gaps. Now we developed this by designing the session around the question is it possible to create gaps?

Started with a simple SSCG. 3 zones with 3 players in each zone. The players in the outer zones must pass the ball through the middle zone where the 3 players in the middle zone will try and intercept the pass. Rotate middle group every 2-3 mins.

Ideas that were discussed

  • How can we create a gap? (For coaches this led to the discussion how perception of information drives football interactions and football interactions create new information for the player to perceive thus inviting new football interactions).
  • The kids discussed the idea of passing the ball faster between the players in their zone and also from one side of their zone to the other as it meant that the defending team in the middle moved with the ball to cover the space and that this could possibly create a gap.

Example of the emergence of football interactions discussed in 4v4+GK game

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB29pRBSD-s (4v4+Gk)

  • One team scores in main goal. Team with GK score by dribbling the ball between one of the 3 cone goals on end line
  • Identify affordances (possibilities for action/ football interactions)
  • Identify affordances acted on, exploited and created using football interactions

Football interactions are the players means to utilise the affordances in their environment. Successful performance in sport is predicated on the constraints of an individual’s perceptual and action capabilities, selecting among affordances to guide actions (football interactions) during performance (Araújo et al., 2006). By deliberately designing the environment to be more compatible with the action capabilities of the young learners we improve the affordance landscape helping the player to learn through perceptual attunement how to acquire the ability to scale information to their own action capabilities (i.e. calibration) (Fajen, Riley, and Turvey 2009). The acquisition of skill by a young learner involves what Gibson (1966, 1979) referred to as educate their attention. The process of educating attention crucially involves practitioners designing tasks that simulate aspects of the performance environment and to selectively introduce the young player to the right aspects of the environment and their affordances. The young player is provided with the opportunity to learn what possibilities for action an aspect of the environment provides.

Perceiving an affordance is to perceive how one can act using football interactions. This dependence of affordances on abilities and expressed in football interactions can help inform the coach about the young players, their learning process, the level of skills they possess and therefore how to design practice

Linking Practice and Theory – Complex Systems in Sport Barcelona

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Here are my notes relating to what I spoke about in my part of the talk and presentation given at the Complex Systems in Sports Congress at Camp Nou Barcelona recently.

  • There is increasing acceptance that individual differences among learners need to be accounted for when we plan our training sessions and coaching interventions (Chow & Atencio, 2012).

 

  • Nonlinear pedagogy is particularly appealing in that it underpins a learner centred approach and the emergence of skills (Renshaw., 2013) Founded on the manipulation of individual, task and environmental constraints that impinge on young learners as they try to satisfy these constraints to facilitate information-movement couplings

 

  • We want to develop players with a better understand in the game rather than just of the game. We can achieve this through the deliberate designing IN of key affordances with which learners can interact during practice (Chow et al, 2016).

 

  • Football interactions are the players means to utilise affordances in the environment.

 

  • Viewed as a unified complex phenomena Football interactions in youth football, how players coordinate their behaviour in the game with the behaviour of others (social coordination) is an interacting, complex and emerging behaviour that can be considered as an adaptive function and can be captured in the term football interactions (O’Sullivan, Hörtin). Football Interactions (dribble, pass, running off the ball, tackling, closing space….)include all the interactions between the parts of a system. They are complex in the sense that they are the accomplishment of all the (sub) systems involved up to the point of perceiving and acting in the environment. Football interactions are always dependent on circumstances, are historical, cultural, situational and are the players means to utilise affordances on the environment.

 

  • The concept of football interactions applied in a nonlinear pedagogy can elucidate a more complete picture of the player-environment system and give us an understanding as to how we can design learning environments in youth football.

Undersökning för Svenska Tränare – Coaching, Lärande och Hjärna

Unik undersökning för svenska tränare som innefattar sport, coaching, lärande och hjärna.

commandments (2)

Tack på förhand för ditt deltagande i denna viktiga undersökning.

I samarbete med Richard Bailey (International Council of Sports Science and Physical Education) presenterar vi en unik undersökning för alla svenska tränare som kommer att ge er extremt viktig och användbar information för framtiden.

Denna undersökning handlar om tränarens kunskap och erfarenhet av att lära sig teorier, särskilt de som är kopplade till hjärnan.

Den ställer frågor om erfarenheter av tränarutbildning och professionell utveckling, och hur de presenterade idéer om hur spelare och idrottare utvecklas och lär sig.

 

 

Länk

https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/BrainSurveySweden

Tack

Mark

Pockets of innovation (part 1) Ben Galloway

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Ben is an aspiring young football coach based in Brisbane, Australia. Working as a tutor in sport coaching at the Queensland University of Technology, he also runs a Youtube channel, ‘Opposite Direction’ making short educational videos about football coaching. Ben puts a lot of his understanding and knowledge down to the people he has connected with and been influenced by during his coaching journey. Ben credits mentors such as Deportivo La Coruña’s Jose Barcala, former professional player, Remo Buess, ecological dynamics expert, Dr Ian Renshaw (co author of Nonlinear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition) & his first major influencer, David Da Silva. Holding a Bachelor in Exercise Science and Physical Education and furthering his studies with a masters in Ecological dynamics, Ben is working hard to further understand the development process.

As part of his own development process Ben has done a series of excellent educational videos around ecological dynamics and football coaching. For me Ben’s work helps to facilitate a space for exchange and learning in a community of practitioners and researchers in order to develop understanding and knowledge for the constructive transformation and evolution of both the coaching environment (practice and coach education) and the literature. you can follow Ben on Twitter.

I am very grateful that Ben has kindly allowed me to publish his work. Enjoy!

Motor Learning Theory

  1. Affordances: https://youtu.be/cUH700QUz64
  2. Animal – Environment Mutuality: https://youtu.be/GW691hvM194
  3. Invariants: https://youtu.be/vwdeBPuB9Ro
  4. Perception – Action Coupling: https://youtu.be/NiWzJK4Rom8
  5. Intentions: https://youtu.be/jMKEnwLxNe0

Practice Design

  1. Task Simplification: https://youtu.be/JdUCRiabDm8
  2. Representative Practice: https://youtu.be/cW1Y8Qvro-I
  3. Repetition without repetition: https://youtu.be/qVt-LBQGo9o

Pedagogy

  1. Constraints Based Learning: https://youtu.be/wA2qho-lJVQ
  2. Constraints based learning vs isolated practice: https://youtu.be/ZeVzoQUBKn4