November 12th, 2009: German international goalkeeper Robert Enke committed suicide. A world-class athlete who seemingly had everything going for him, but was battling for three points every day off the pitch. Enke’s tragic death has become a contributor to a higher awareness of mental health for those in football through the publishing of A Life too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke (2011) by Ronald Reng and the creation of The Robert Enke Foundation, a foundation committed to raising awareness of critical mental health issues. Enke is not the only player to suffer in this battle. Gianluigi Buffon, Andres Iniesta, and Aaron Lennon are just a few examples of players who have been vocal in their struggle. In recent years, an effort to remove the stigma has become more powerful, but we understand it is not always easy. Football is a results-based industry, the pressures faced are massive and we are usually unable to control most situations.
Whether you are a coach, analyst, or any other position related to on the pitch performance, there is a tough line on which to balance. How do you best develop the individual/team, and at the same time find success in the very basic goal of winning matches? While at youth levels it is commonly accepted that a winning culture should always take a back-seat, as you go up from these age grouped teams- the focus on on-the-pitch success becomes ramped up. However, how do you do both in the context of video analysis? How can you help coaches achieve their goals of winning matches in a high-pressure season, while also supporting the growth of the individual athlete – something which clearly helps the development of a success team dynamic. In my experience working with younger players, I have found the following steps to have been extremely beneficial in tackling these issues. Not every one of these will be applicable, but if you are able to find a balance you will drastically increase your output towards meeting these goals. Education through video analysis is the best way for players to gain the full picture about how you want them to do things when they eventually step onto the pitch. Making any sort of marginal gain in this aspect can be the difference between winning and losing, and seeing a player reach his full potential or not.Read More
“Juego de Posición”, translated to “Positional Play”, is a well-known possessional philosophy currently utilised by many of the top coaches. This concept has been adopted and adapted by the likes of Pep Guardiola and Julian Nagelsmann; however, certain fundamental principles remain constant. Positional play is centered on the efficiency of spacing between players in order to maximise the potential of the team in possession to progress the ball. To do so, predetermined zones are created by the coach followed by a set of “rules” that the players must follow when positioning themselves on the field. This article will explore the importance and reasoning behind the vertical zones, using Guardiola’s five zone set-up as the focus.Read More
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