Why is tactic intent the basic unit of training?

Why we need to teach through the use of contents

In soccer, we must teach through the use of contents so as to plan the teaching-learning process of the children. These contents implicitly include the tactic intents that must de developed in the game, as these are the basic unit of training. What exactly do we mean when we say that tactic intent is the basic unit of training? We mean that any technical gesture is tactically conditioned and, vice versa, any tactical action involves a motor performance. In other words, all technical gestures have a tactical component which must be applied in a context involving teammates and opponents. Training tactical intents allows the players to notice what is happening around them. This is essential if we wish to encourage an understanding of the game, as well as ensuring that the players think and act in the best way possible in a given situation.

Why we try to simulate real game situations

Training is based on optimizing the relationships between the structures that shape players, to ensure they improve as soccer players and, simultaneously, that they perform well during a competition or match. Therefore, when we are coaching our players, we must simulate the actions present in a match to allow them to train in scenarios resembling those they will encounter. The way to do this is to train through the use of tactic intents. Although this statement might seem over simplistic and obvious, if we observe different training sessions we realize that often these are not carried out under conditions found during a match.

If we oversimplify, the game looses its essence

Training tasks are designed to work on specific aspects of the game. Hence, coaches design drills to improve precise contents. The design of the tasks is varied: we can isolate a real game situation to focus our attention on one given skill; or we can produce more comprehensive tasks that simulate a competition scenario, yet adapted to ensure that the contexts we wish to train arise. We must be mindful when adapting our scenarios because, if we adapt them too much, we might loose that real game situation scenario we aim to keep. If we oversimplify a task, i.e., if we select a very isolated aspect of the game to work on, we might loose the game’s essence. It is useless to train a situation that deviates enormously from what will happen during a match: no matter how well we perform in the training session, if the future game situation does not conform to the training task, the results will not be satisfying as we will have no previous motor skill experiences to help us resolve that given game situation. We need to accumulate many motor skill experiences similar to those found in a real game situation to ensure rich and extensive motor learning. In this sense, training sessions that work on tactic intents allow us to maintain the game structure from the point of view of the decision making process (notice, think, act), and almost always ensure that we work with teammates, opponents and real game spatial and time components. All of this is of utmost importance if we wish our training sessions to simulate real competition situations.

Why what we work on must be related to what happens in a match

The tasks that will enrich our players are those that will allow them to analyze situations or make decisions in situations that can than be transferred to real game or match situations. We need to work on a large range of situations, with opposition and collaboration, and in open scenarios resembling competition situations. Hence, the problems that arise will be similar to those the players will come across during competition and not mere reproductions of non-contextualized technical sport gestures.

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