Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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Focus on the eyes, and the head, and the legs of the players and teach the game

We talk about what we see from a birds eye view but what each individual player sees is unique. That’s why this René Marić quote from the Training Ground Guru podcast, “focus on the eyes, and the head, and the legs of the players, and teach the game,” sticks with me.

Simon Austin talking to René Marić on the Training Ground Guru podcast:

Simon Austin: And I was talking to a very, very good coach and educator today called Brian Ashton. And he was saying he thinks sometimes tactics can be restrictive because they’re stopping the players from thinking for themselves on the pitch.

René Marić: Yeah, that’s another reason why I only think about from the players perspective and in terms of the decision-making. Because if you get pressed on the outside, there was space in behind that, but you might have to go inside in one way or the other to get to that space that the opponent opened. And then if you want to make it a formations and everything, yes, but you might make it harder to grasp, and then you maybe need half a second longer, and then you might not be able to execute that decision or you might make the wrong decision.

So it’s a matter of the quality of the explanation. And I think it helps with the quality of explanation if you focus on the eyes, and the head, and the legs of the players and teach the game, not teach your personal favourite style, language, or whatever.

I binge-watch JFootballTV videos, a YouTube channel by Lee Jung-Jin, a South Korean professional football player. He straps a camera to his head when he plays to show his first-person perspective. He has had a very inspiring journey through football, now adventuring to many countries, hopping from one opportunity to the next. I’d recommend checking out his channel and learning more about his story.

Figure 1.1 - Screenshot from this video where Lee Jung-Jin is going in for a challenge.

It is entertaining because he is a very talented player, but watching serves as a reminder as to what the player’s perspective is. I never played professionally myself, but I started kicking a ball when I could walk, and I did play competitively.

Even in public analysis where we are trying to teach the person reading or watching, I think I can do a better job by trying to put myself in the shoes of the player that I’m talking about. Then, by doing that, it might help the audience because they can better see the perspective of the player through the writing. That will improve the quality of my explanation.

We have an idea of a structure or movement from our eyes, but what does the player see?Rather than translate what the audience sees, translate what the player sees. And their view is limited as to how much they can see.

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