• Paddy King

Structured Training: A Brief Introduction.

Modern times have undoubtedly seen the start of a move away from analytical training as a methodology for football coaching.

Although still prevalent in South American football cultures analytical training, the isolated and reductionist approach to coaching, is not something that is now as common in Europe or America where it is steadily being replaced by either the Structured Training methodology or Tactical Periodisation philosophy.

Analytical training believes that functional components can be separated from the whole and worked on in isolation, for example if

we wanted to develop Jordi Alba’s ability to join the attack in Zone 3 to provide width and penetrative depth, then the reductionist or analytical approach to training would be centered around purely measurable sprints and their associated work to rest ratios.

Vitor Frade’s Tactical Periodisation is a topic for another day, but Paco Seirul·lo’s Structured Training is something we will look at in a little more depth over the next couple of pages and see how it compares with analytical training.

It is probably fair to say that although the training methodology proposed by Seirul·lo is not an over-night revolution, it does support quite a radical departure from what was typically common place in terms of coaching across most of the world.

In a few weeks King Knight will be releasing their book on Rondos.

This book will revolutionize, not only how Rondos are taught but, how they are understood by the coach in terms of principles of the game as a whole.

This will be because, in part, the lens through which we examine them.

We look at Rondos in terms of the game principles that they represent and the roles and responsibilities of players in certain dynamic zones in relation to the ball carrier (1st attacker).

Much like Seirul·lo’s Structured Training, this view lends itself to the view of players as being complicated, hyper complex systems or structures that relate and interrelate with each other.

The player, as a set of hyper complex relationships is comprised of eight components:

· Biological Structure – energy pathways.

· Cognitive Structure – perception and decision making.

· Coordinative Structure – mobility and movement.

· Conditional Structure – motor capabilities.

· Creative-Expressive Structure – creative capabilities.

· Socio-Effective Structure – relationships with teammates.

· Emotive-Volitional Structure – feelings and states of mind.

· Psychological Structure – a culmination of all structures.

The Structured Training approach preferred by Seirul·lo (and these authors) suggests that the individual player can not really improve their ability to perform unless the Complex Structures above are trained and overloaded simultaneously, which obviously analytical training cannot do.

In order that a coach is able to work and engage with his players in ways which appropriately stimulate all eight of the structures simultaneously, he must endeavor to generate activities which create environments in which the players are challenged across all eight of the structures at the same time, forcing them to adapt and improve their respective abilities.

Environments can be designed in which each of the eight structures are worked more or less, but always together.

Periodizing training to manage workloads in a Structured Training environment is a clear illustration of this, for example, on a day where the duration of the session is to be reduced to provide some form of physical recovery, the complexity of the training may also be reduced to give the players a cognitive ‘break’, but both of these structures are still trained, just with more or less emphasis.

The synergistic and complimentary relationship between the eight structures is what allows players to find solutions to problems posed in games.

The only way to reduce random chance and to increase the likelihood of a player being able to solve game problems is by creating a training environment which allows the player to draw on the eight structures, to a grater or lesser extent depending upon the specific problem posed.

Analytical training promotes maximization of the athlete whereas Structured Training seeks the optimization of the individual.

In order to promote optimization, the coach must create and provide a training environment in which the tasks which need to be performed or the problems that need to be solved must match and mirror those from the game which demand that the player self improves to meet the challenge.

In order for players to self improve and solve the problems posed both in the training environment and the game itself, the coach must help the players find a common frame of reference for their tactical actions, in essence he must now coach the game of football.

The coach will need to simplify what is expected of each player in certain situations.

Football is infinite and therefore impossible to quantify with rules, but the game can be simplified with principles, roles and responsibilities.

In order for a player to know what they are about in each moment of the game and in relation to all other players on the field, the game must be viewed through a particular lens, three in fact, that of;

· Intervention Space

· Direct Cooperation Space

· Indirect Cooperation Space

By doing this, the coach is drastically simplifying what is expected of the players at any given time. He is providing them with a calming sense of order and subliminally instilling upon them the principles of play from his own game model.

By allocating roles and responsibilities based upon where players are in relation to each other, we are essentially talking about space management and control of space.

If you have read the book on Game Models by Patrick J King you will be familiar with the four superiorities:

· Numerical

· Positional

· Qualitative

· Socio-Effective

When players find themselves in any of the three zones, Intervention, Direct or Indirect Cooperation Zones they must reference the four superiorities and ask themselves how they can best position themselves to create the appropriate superiorities in the respective zones.

How can this be trained in the club environment?

King Knight methodology supports the use of Rondos, Positional Games and other Fractal Training games.

Seirul·lo refers to these fractal activities as Preferential Simulation Situations.

These are training activities that whilst being realistic and respecting the game of football in terms of rules, spacing and

phases of the game etc., provoke the eight structures into action, to a lesser or greater extent depending upon the stage of the microcycle.

By participating in these activities, players can best optimize themselves for performance in games.

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