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

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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

 

 

 

Facilitating a space for exchange and learning in a community of practitioners and researchers.

Complex Sam

A major factor that influences all performers [at all levels] throughout their sporting careers is the quality and appropriateness of the coaching environment (Martindale et al., 2005, p.353). Against the background of significant concerns about the quality and appropriateness of the contemporary youth sport experience the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently presented a critical evaluation of the current state of science and practice of youth athlete development. The consensus statement called for a more evidence-informed approach to youth athlete development through the adoption of viable, evidence-informed and inclusive frameworks of athlete development that are flexible (using ‘best practice’ for each developmental level), while embracing individual athlete progression and appropriately responding to the athlete’s perspective and needs (IOC, 2015).

Despite the research literature on athlete development being generally more humanistic and developmentally orientated (e.g. Côté & Lidor, 2013a) there is continuing emergence of non-flexible programmes promoting early talent identification and specialisation often characterised by selection and deselection through all ages and stages (Güllich, A., 2013) with a clear absence of critical thinking (see here). We may know what we are looking for but do we understand what we are looking at?(see here) There is a fundamental flaw in any youth sports system that does not take into account the complexity and non-linearity of human development. For example; sub-systems of the human body develop at different levels and may act as rate limiters on performance (e.g., psychological (Collins & MacNamara, 2012), and social development (Deci & Ryan, 2000).

Predicting the future behaviour of a complex system (young player, team) can be quite futile. Recently, in his book “No hunger in Paradise” Michale Calvin reported that of the 1.5 million children playing organised youth football in the UK only 180 will play in the Premier League. Clearly one should not shape and form children’s football around small numbers. Clearly one should not shape and form children’s football around a system that verifies its existence through survivorship bias.

There is increasing acceptance that individual differences among learners need to be accounted for when coaches plan teaching interventions in any learning contexts (Chow & Atencio, 2012). Learning a sports skill is a complex process that involves a multitude of factors. At the level of the learner, every individual is unique with differences in characteristics such as genetic composition, social-economic backgrounds, prior experiences (Thelen E, Smith LB, Karmiloff-Smith A, Johnson MH (1994). For the young learner, the game, learning the game and the culture of the game is a continuum of complexity. “The coach needs to understand the game but also other aspects that surround the game. The surrounding environment, society, culture, economy” – Joan Vila (Head of Methodology, FC Barcelona).

In this respect, talent is not defined by a young athlete’s fixed set of genetic or acquired components, but should be understood as a dynamically varying relationship captured by the constraints imposed by the tasks experienced, the physical and social environment, and the personal resources of a performer (Araújo & Davids, 2011)

Clearly there is a need for a model and principles that reflect the needs and meets the desire to create a holistic understanding of the sports coaching process and a fuller understanding of its complexity (Jones et al., 2002; Trudel and Gilbert, 2006). Since 1994, a constraints-based framework (see here), (incorporating key ideas from ecological psychology, dynamical systems theory, evolutionary biology and the complexity sciences), has informed the way that many sport scientists seek to understand performance, learning design and the development of expertise and talent in sport (Davids, Handford & Williams, 1994; Williams, Davids & Williams, 1999; Davids et al., 2006; Araújo, & Davids, 2011b; Passos et al., 2016; Seifert et al., 2014). An important feature of the contribution of the constraints-based framework to enhancing understanding of theory and application in the acquisition of skill and expertise in sport is a focus on enhancing the quality of practice in developmental and elite sport (Chow et al., 2016).

A key challenge for coaches is to cater for this abundance of individual characteristics during practice. Therefore, nonlinear pedagogy (grounded in the constraints-led approach) is particularly appealing in that it underpins a learner centred approach and the emergence of skills (Renshaw., 2012). Nonlinear pedagogy provides an appropriate framework for practitioners to cater for individual complexities and dynamic learning environments (Lee, M. C., Chow, J. Y., Komar, J., Tan, C. W., & Button, C.,2014). Training should be designed to encourage the interaction of the different capacities and systems of the young player to help them learn to adapt and develop the ability to learn how to organise their capacities and structures. Seirullo (2002) refers to as this type of training design as “prioritised” rather than “hierarchised.” where the young learner is a participant in the learning process as opposed to being a recipient. England Rugby coach Eddie Jones in a recent interview with the Telegraph newspaper makes a reference to this – “Professional sport to a large extent is educating players to be a recipient and it’s our great belief that to be a World Cup-winning team you need to be a participant.”

Mercé et al. (2007) suggested that football be understood as a “situational sport”. The dynamic of the game comes from unstable situations and big uncertainty caused by teammate’s and opponent behaviours, path of the ball, environment, etc. It is characterised by individual and collective decision making where the player/team adapts performance to each punctual moment. The emerging relationships with teammates and interaction with opponents develops an interesting dialogue (co-adaptability/ interdependence) and an astute coach will observe, reflect and use this dialogue to design a learning space (see here). The learning environment should offer possibilities for “football inter-actions”  to the young player independent of their changing abilities needs and concerns.

football 2 interaction

However, sports coaching research “needs to extend its physical and intellectual boundaries” (Potrac et al., 2007, p.34). There is a limited amount of research undertaken in the integration of theory, science & knowledge from the perspective of high quality applied practice in sport.

This theory- practice gap possibly can be attributed to: “the professional wants new solutions to operational problems while the researcher seeks new knowledge” (Bates, 2002b, p.404). We can refine the literature by accessing the ‘often missing voice’, those whose job it is to implement the ‘theoretical’ models into ‘live’ programmes; i.e., the coaches. Coaches’ experiential knowledge can provide insights beyond those found in traditional empirical research studies. The integration of experiential knowledge of coaches with theoretically driven empirical knowledge represents a promising avenue to drive future applied science research and pedagogical practice (Greenwood, Davids, & Renshaw, 2013).

Coaches who are willing to share their evidence-based practice will improve the quality of practical and applied work in sport. We need to recognise that we probably do not know as much as we think and there is a need to facilitate a space for exchange and learning in a community of practitioners and researchers in order to develop understanding and knowledge and propose improvements for the constructive transformation and evolution of both the coaching environment (practice and coach education) and the literature.

References

Araújo,  D.,  &  Davids,  K.  (2011).  What exactly is acquired during  skill  acquisition?  Journal  of Consciousness Studies, 18, 723.

Araújo, D., Davids, K., & Hristovski, R. (2006). The ecological dynamics of decision making in sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise,7(6), 653-676. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2006.07.002

Baker, J. (2017). Routledge handbook of talent identification and development in sport. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Bergeron, M. F., Mountjoy, M., Armstrong, N., Chia, M., Côté, J., Emery, C. A., . . . Engebretsen, L. (2015). International Olympic Committee consensus statement on youth athletic development. British Journal of Sports Medicine,49(13), 843-851. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094962

Bush, A. (2014). Sports coaching research: context, consequences, and consciousness. New York: Routledge.

Chow, J.-Y., Davids, K., Button, C. & Renshaw, I. (2016). Nonlinear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition: An Introduction. Routledge: London

Collins, D., & Macnamara, Á. (2012). The Rocky Road to the Top. Sports Medicine,42(11), 907-914. doi:10.2165/11635140-000000000-00000

Côté, J., & Lidor, R. (2013). Conditions of children’s talent development in sport. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information on Technology.

Greenwood, D., Davids, K., & Renshaw, I. (2013). Experiential knowledge of expert coaches can help identify informational constraints on performance of dynamic interceptive actions. Journal of Sports Sciences,32(4), 328-335. doi:10.1080/02640414.2013.824599

Güllich, A. (2013). Selection, de-selection and progression in German football talent promotion. European Journal of Sport Science,14(6), 530-537. doi:10.1080/17461391.2013.858371

Jones, R.L., Armour, K.M. and Potrac, P. (2002). Understanding the coaching pro- cess: a framework for social analysis. Quest, 54, 34–48.

Lee, M. C., Chow, J. Y., Komar, J., Tan, C. W., & Button, C. (2014). Nonlinear Pedagogy: An Effective Approach to Cater for Individual Differences in Learning a Sports Skill. PLoS ONE,9(8). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104744

Mallo, J. (2015). Complex Football: From Seirul·los structured training to Frades tactical periodisation. Madrid: Verlag nicht ermittelbar.

Mercé, J., Mundina, J., García, R., Yagüe, J. M., & González, L.-M. (2007). Estudio de un modelo para los procesos cognitivos en jugadores de fútbol de edades comprendidas entre 8 y 12 años. EFDeportes. Revista Digital

Potrac, P., Jones, R.L. and Cushion, C. (2007). Understanding power and the coach’s role in professional English soccer: a preliminary investigation of coach behaviour. Soccer and Society, 8(1), 33–49.

Renshaw, I. (2012). Nonlinear Pedagogy Underpins Intrinsic Motivation in Sports Coaching. The Open Sports Sciences Journal,5(1), 88-99. doi:10.2174/1875399×01205010088

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist,55(1), 68-78. doi:10.1037//0003-066x.55.1.68

Thelen E, Smith LB, Karmiloff-Smith A, Johnson MH (1994) A dynamic systems approach to the development of cognition and action: MIT Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Quiet Revolution Starts to Bring the Noise!

 

AIK Ungdomsfotboll logga

Swedish club AIK is based in Solna Stockholm and  is one of Scandinavias biggest football clubs. This week AIK released a public statement with regard to immediate changes that will effect how the future of  child-youth football will be structured  in AIK.

Below is am English translation of the statement: (Swedish version can be read here)

The debate around a healthy childhood and youth sport has been going on for some time and continues to engage many people with different backgrounds and objectives. Criticism (aimed at football clubs with academies) is often grounded in the children’s rights perspective with reference to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the documents by the National Governing Body for Sports (riksidrottsförbundet) and the Swedish FA (SvFF) book ‘Spela. Lek och Lär’ (Play the game, Play and Learn).

Based on this background, AIK appointed a working group as well as a reference group (including technical directors in Ice hockey and Floorball, Bayern Munich scout, researchers in child-youth sport and local politicians) to review the activities of children from eight to twelve years of age and the consequences it has for the rest of the club.

The purpose of this review was to determine if it is possible to organise the AIK youth football in a way that is even more consistent with the above mentioned governing documents and implement them in child and youth sport in a better way than how it is done today. The purpose is that these ideals should exist in harmony with our mission the education and development of tomorrow’s players and leaders for our own representation teams (Senior teams both men and women).

IMG_0347

 The club’s definitive goals, and specifically with this project are as follows:

-We want all children in AIK to feel good.

– Increase the development and promotion of players to our own senior teams as well as increase the number of players in the U16-U19 and F16-F19.

-We also want to follow relevant control documents in Swedish child-youth sport. In other words, encouraging children and young people in AIK to develop an interest in sports in general and in particular, and to keep them playing football in AIK for as long as possible and to continue playing sport as much as possible through life.

Based on this review (conducted in 2016 and early 2017) a decision was made for a change of focus on the activities in child-youth football 8-12 years in AIK. The club will delay its academy selection until the age of 13. There will be no selection process in this age group. Instead training groups will be formed with increased support from AIK through a deliberate investment in resources to support the coaches working within this age group.