One of the ideas behind Blueprint for Football is that of looking at different ideas that are – or should be - influencing the game of football. We’ve done that over the years and here is an overview (shown by order of publishing with the most recent ones being on top) of the most influential of those ideas.
Essential Qualities of a Football Coach: Curiosity [May 2016]
There is the belief that great innovations come from lightbulb moments when inspiration hits and the fully formed idea is conceived. That isn’t the case. Instead great ideas are usually the result of years of thinking about something and linking it to knowledge learned from elsewhere. It is for this reason that curiosity is important as it is through it that one accumulates the knowledge needed to thread together different concepts.
Memorable Quote: “What people should be trying to foster is…epistemic curiosity, which is a more structured and deeper form of curiosity that can ignite the desire to learn and attempt to do things that one would not normally consider.”
How Habits Shape Football (And Why They Matter To You) [October 2013]
The most tactically disciplined teams are also those who seem to know instinctively when they should be doing a particular action. Think of Arsenal’s back four under George Graham moving in unison to set-off the offside trap or Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona pressing defenders as soon as possession was lost. The thing is that this is hardly instinctive but rather a movement that is dictated by habits, an idea that every coach has to be aware of.
Memorable Quote: “Barcelona’s game, then, isn’t a spontaneous expression of genius but rather the perfect execution of a series of deeply ingrained habits.”
Perception is in the Eye of the Beholder [September 2013]
Can you teach a player how to be more aware of what is happening around him? Can you determine how aware a player is of what is happening around him by watching him play? The answer to both questions is yes and Geir Jordet, who has studied in depth the idea of perception provided a breakdown on how this is possible. For coaches looking for some different ideas to investigate, this has to be on their read list.
Memorable Quote: “Players tend to look too much at the ball; you don't really need all the information you get from the ball.”
Helping the Brain to Win Games [May 2013]
The history of the game of football is littered with players who had the talent but not the mental capacity to succeed. It is a shameful waste considering how much resources there are out there for them to help themselves. As for coaches, they too have to have a good handle of the basics of sports psychology and Dan Abrahams delivered a primer on that in this interview.
Memorable Quote: “(Sports psychology) is the bottom of the wish list for clubs and also probably at the bottom of the wish list for player. Yet we talk how important the psychological side is in football so there is a bit of a disconnection.”
Bursting the Specialisation Myth [September 2012]
The idea that the 10,000 hour practise rule is, at best, an indicator rather than a rule that guarantees expertise is now quite accepted but at the time of this interview with the University of Birmingham Senior Lecturer Dr Martin Toms his arguments flew in the face of the pop-psychology beliefs set about by Malcolm Gladwell’s books. A wide ranging interview that delves into the damage that early specialisation does to players and how it would be best to let children try out a number of sports.
Memorable Quote: “Specialising in one sport at a young age is actually detrimental to success.”