Big Picture Soccor

Castles Made of Sand: Is the Brain the Last Frontier?

In the first part of this, I explained why we’re moving past one-team models like the four-phase model and replacing them with two-team or system models. I’ll build on that here, so if you haven’t read that yet now is the time. My claim in the last piece is, essentially, in explaining sport, we will always be left with a surplus which is outside of sport itself. This is because the sport can not prescribe the engagement we bring to it. It can only constrain that engagement in such a way that leads us to engage with it further. The...

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Big Picture Soccor

Castles Made of Sand: Why the Four-Phase Model is Becoming Obsolete

I don’t seem to be able to (coherently) fit this all into one piece so I’m going to try to do it as a short series. Many of these thoughts are loosely inspired by the work of Stuart Kauffman and Alicia Juarrero. If you haven’t already, check them both out.  The four phase model of the game – attack, defensive transition, defense, attacking transition – has traditionally been treated as an “objective” property of the game. I’m going to argue that it has outlived its usefulness. As those staunch defenders of the truth will always tell you 2+2=4 no matter...

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Big Picture Soccor

Temporality and Sport

Time expands, then contracts, all in tune with the stirrings of the heart.” – Haruki Murakami Fighting against the boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko is often referred to as “entering the matrix” in reference to the famous scene in which time dilates to the extent that Neo is able to dodge bullets. After Messi hexed his whole defence, Espanyol manager Qique Sanchez Flores remarked that Messi “stops time.” Legend has it that Hockey great Wayne Gretzky saw the game in slow motion. Are these ideas simply the folklore of sport, or might they be touching on something deeper? Surely modern...

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The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Football

By the time I was a teenager I had my heart set on “going pro” – that lofty aspiration shared by more than a few young athletes. The next decade of my life could have been condensed into one of those Rocky training montages without missing much of import. Despite spending most of my formative years in football-sparse environments and never having played for a non-volunteer/professional coach, I scrapped my way onto a successful NCAA division 2 team.  The level proved to be a difficult adjustment for a player who was still more comfortable playing barefoot in the backyard and...

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Significant Learning & Transformation in Living Together: Maturana, Bateson and Rogers

I’ve been sitting on this piece for quite some time for two reasons. First, I was afraid I wouldn’t do justice to these thinkers and their ideas. Second every time I would try to write I ended up realizing how little I knew and then I’d just get lost in a black hole of papers and books leading to more concepts that needed to be understood. Hopefully the result is still coherent and accessible. If you replaced every plank of a ship one by one until every piece had been changed out from the original, would the resulting ship...

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Autonomy and Infantilization

Hey guys, sorry for the long absence. I’ve been collaborating on a few exciting projects which I hope to announce in the near future. I’ve also been sitting on this piece for a while. It’s a very nuanced issue and I’ve been worried about doing it justice while also expressing something that I feel needs to be said. Youth sports are undergoing sweeping reforms. In the past, federations would rebrand their coach education programs and throw in a few buzzwords about positive coaching. This is something different. This goes deeper than coaching methodology or sideline behavior. Traditional youth sport models...

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Big Picture Soccor

Soccer and Intelligence

What is intelligence and what is its relationship to the beautiful game? Should stars such as Zidane or Maradona rightfully be called “geniuses”? What is it that allows some players to consistently make better decisions than others? The trouble with questions like these is the fact that they contain assumptions within them. Intelligence, in particular, is a word that engenders tremendous confusion and controversy. I’ve heard terms like “soccer IQ” or “game intelligence” thrown around enough that I figured it’d be worth looking into.  It’s easy to see why an idea like soccer IQ would develop. Simple observation of players...

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Coach Development in the Information Overwhelm Age

The exponential growth of information being presented to coaches online presents both opportunities and challenges for coach development. If we view sport as a microcosm of culture then this should come as no surprise. Podcasts, blogs, lectures, classes, certifications, and how-to’s have provided a never-ending stream of information that is often more overwhelming than useful. How coaches navigate this novel territory will be hugely influential in determining the future of sports. Ironically, it would seem that the solution entails the problem since offering advice on navigating an excess of information adds to that information. Thinking about this has made...

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