Generating uncertainty and becoming attuned to key information sources
Problem: Many young players will meet the ball facing their own goal and turn directly, often in to an opponent or away from the space that would have provided the better attacking option. This behaviour can limit how players can become perceptually attuned to the dynamics of the game.
Design a task that simulates an aspect of the performance environment
This is a simple game to work with the player’s body positioning to help their decision making.
7v7 game (5v5, 6v6)
Rule: If you receive the ball facing your own goal, then you have only one touch.
Coach Observation: Some young players (receiving feedback directly from the game) started to adjust their bodies to “open up” to the play. This made it possible for them to become more aware of when they were closely marked or when they had time and space to continue with the build-up of play. They began to read the game, adapt and ‘play what they see’ and develop the decision making process. After all it is the defending team’s movements that is the main information source that helps us to make decisions and allow for a variation of solutions to emerge.
A well designed learning space will demand heightened perceptual sensitivity and in the process help players to (often implicitly) become attuned to the key information in the environment that can be used to guide actions- ‘attunement to affordances’ (MarkUpton)
Evolution: We discussed (questions/guided discovery) with the young players how deliberately playing a pass to a marked player facing his own goal can be used to provoke a reaction from their opponents.
Teams that use variability in games usually try to vary their movements or points of attack and use creativity, deception and disguise to generate uncertainty in their opponents (Richard Shuttleworth: Decision Making in Team Sport (Sports Coach Vol 30, No 2, Pages 25-27; 2015 )
How does a defending team react if a ball is played central to a marked forward facing away from the goal? Where may this create space for the team in possession to attack?
How does the defending team react if a ball is played to a player who moves in to a space (in depth) between two defenders? How may this provoke the defending team and where may this create gaps for the team in possession to exploit?
It is the opponent’s movements that are the main information source that help us to make decisions and allow for a variation of solutions to emerge.