Posts tagged ‘Barcelona’
Barcelona’s masterful display in The Champions League Final, showed modern football has shifted into a new era and risks leaving the rest behind.
Talents like Xavi are able to move between the lines. They are able to pick gaps in the orthodox and rigid 4-4-2 systems, with teams that remain loyal to structure eventually being left without an answer for fluidity, invention and unrestricted movement.
What differentiates teams in the new football age is their creativity, with players who are ingenious, inventive and intelligent. Far from the rigidity of shape, the best players were able to drift and play anywhere on the pitch if the game warranted this movement.
With total-creativity football the team plays in a constant state of complexity and ambiguity. The whole point of creativity is to move, pass, and dribble into areas that are unexpected by the opponent, hence a team playing total-creativity football successfully, never remains formalised but sways in unstructured fluidity.
To create the Messi’s, the Xavi’s, the Iniesta’s of the future we need to be more imaginative as coaches and not understand our job as simply passing on the orthodox “rules of the game.” We need to teach young players the rules, but most crucially teach them how to break the rules!
Often we talk about “creative people” and “uncreative” people, those who are full of ideas and those who have none. This often leads to a “hands up” admission from the more orthodox crowd, who see themselves without the ability to be innovative. But as coaches we must remember that this is untrue. Creativity is a type of intelligence. It can be taught and trained like any other skill. It is NOT an unobtainable gift at birth, but one that can be worked on to get better. Fact.
So, how do we make our young players more open and creative? My answer: let them be the coach! This week my young Under 9’s invented a series of different sessions which focused on many aspects of their game in different ways.
Initially, I set them up in groups of four. I gave them a 10×10 area, four balls, a stack of cones each and 1 bib, and simply said, “go on then, what sessions can you make up?” They looked at me perplexed, with a look of “You’re the coach, you’re the one supposed to be directing us!” Unsurprisingly these initial sessions were pretty basic.
We repeated this exercise a week later. This time the boys in their groups looked at me differently: with intent, purpose and excitement! “Go on then, show me an exercise that will make you better players”. Suddenly we had four really inventive little sessions going on. One set of players played a game where they focused on change of pace, with one giving a signal and then each player having to rush through a gate (that they had laid out.) Another had a game where there was a guard in a square coned area and each time a player dribbled through one of his gates they won a point.
Impressively, the boys weren’t just happy with this; they stopped this session and conditioned it saying, “if you do a step over through the gate you get 3 points”. I stood and joked, “Boys you’re going to put me out of a job at this rate!” They giggled, though I was only half joking!
Football is a game played as much with the head as with the feet; Barcelona demonstrate this fact with aplomb. If the rest of us are to stand any chance of catching them up we need to help our boys and girls become comfortable in the fluidity of unconstrained movement.
Letting the boys be the coach is a great way of helping this along as it asks questions of young players to think, and then invites them to invent answers.
Indeed La Masia and Barcelona tell us that the first step in getting players to become imaginative is to get them to ‘think’. Imagination is all in the mind; it is not a technical skill like dribbling or shooting – it is the intangible ability to use the brain to see and answer situations differently. If coaches begin to understand that creativity is a skill that can be natured and developed in young players, then we can move the game forwards.
I believe one way we can achieve this is by letting players coach themselves. Stimulating young players’ minds towards the creation of a positive outcome on a training ground exercise will directly influence their ability to do so when playing on the pitch. Just ask Messi. Or Xavi. Or Villa…
(BR Sports Development compiles the latest academic research with real club coaching experience to provide insight led articles for those in youth development and professional sport. BRSD provides a considered and intellectual approach to developing young sports talent. http://www.brsportsdevelopment.com/)
Tags: Barcelona, Champions League Final, creativity, Iniesta, Messi, Xavi
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Rob Turner discusses the much used phrase ‘the beautiful game’.
Well this is it. Norwich City are back in the Premier League, alongside Queens Park Rangers and Swansea. My hope is that after the media’s adulation of Blackpool and Barcelona (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type) there will be more calls to abandon long throws and kicking people in the mud.
I think people sometimes forget that football is called “the beautiful game”. This is not to say that the physical side should be ignored. Arsenal are an example of a team that has all the art but not always the grit required to fight for a result when it is needed. By contrast Manchester United arguably lost a big chunk of magic when they sold Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo. Nonetheless it was still enough for them to retain the title.
But again I ask people to be honest. Yes we all want to win and sometimes that means winning ugly. But I want to emphasise the sometimes. Football should be entertainment and it should be played in a way that people want to watch. If footballers are being paid wages on a par with movie stars, then let’s see some Hollywood stuff!
As a Norwich fan I still take pride that we remain the only English team to beat Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium, courtesy of a beautiful 40 yard volley from Jeremy (The God) Goss. However this was not the moment that I witnessed a few years ago. While many will think I’m mad for me it was a catalyst for something truly beautiful.
His name was Marc Libbra and I am not ashamed to say I had a small man crush on him. I’ve always been a fan of that Gallic swagger when combined with skill, whether it’s Descartes, Jean Reno or Eric Cantona. I was there in the stand against Manchester City when he hit THAT volley.
Why do I call it THAT volley? Because at the time Man City were cruising to the Premier League and we were destined for relegation. After that moment, there was the emerging thought that Norwich could be better. We then made the play offs and then after that became champions.
Granted after that for a long time it went wrong, especially when Fulham beat us 6-0 with a combination of beauty and brutality that would make Muhammad Ali tip his jaunty hat. It was not until Paul Lambert’s return that the inner beauty of Norwich was properly rediscovered and the result is there for all to see. His German coaching badges provided sophisticated tactics, bold attacking play and an eye for players who suited those tactics.
I don’t want Norwich to be the next Blackpool. I don’t want to be patted on the head and patronised. Neither I suspect does Paul Lambert. I want Norwich to be like Cristiano Ronaldo. Truly beautiful teams not only look good but they also beat people. And when you beat people you are inevitably hated.
(Rob is a writer/producer for Polycomical. To find out more or how to get involved in the webcomic and cartoon project Reynard City go to www.reynardcity.com)
Tags: arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Blackpool, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fulham, Jeremy Goss, Manchester City, Manchester United, Marc Libbra, Muhammad Ali, Olympic Stadium, Paul Lambert, Premier League, Queens Park Rangers, Swansea, the beautiful game
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