Explaining a Football Action

When your players are on the pitch they are passing to each other, dribbling, making runs, creating space, marking opponents, tackling, heading and lots more. These are all examples of different Football Actions. Interactions between your players in the context of Football.

So what is the characteristics of a Football (Inter)Action?

Just imagine you are a player and that you step out to the pitch. What is the first thing you do? You collect information from your surrounding, where you are on the pitch, where your team-mates are, where the opponents are, and where the ball is.

Based on this information that you perceive, you will make a decision to do something, or to do nothing. Then you execute that decision by moving your body or by keep doing what you where already doing, in this case standing still.

So perception is the most important thing in a Football Action? No. Since a Football Action is interaction between two or more players in the context of Football (the pitch, opponents etc) how can one-way traffic (input) be of the highest order?

In a team sport all the individual players perceive all the other players, meaning that there is something there to perceive. What type of information is it you receive as a player on the pitch? You see where the other players are located, what type of body language they communicate to you and what they are saying.

This means that all the other players on the pitch is communicating to you either non-verbally through the use of their body (a forward run, opening up, pressing etc) or verbally by for example shouting instructions or asking for the ball.

Every time humans interact there is both transmission and receiving of signals. How could you converse with someone if they don’t send a signal of some sort to you that conversation is intended? This exchange of signals is what we call communication.

In our example this translates to you being on the pitch sends a signal, communication to everyone else that you are part of the game. What you decide to do next will inevitably communicate something to your team-mates and the opponents.

But why is it Decision Making first and then Execution of Decision, couldn’t you say that it’s just Execution? No. The boring answer that many disregard is that there is overwhelming scientific proof of this sequence. Your brain works this way. 

Thanks to modern neuroscience there is proof that your brain is activated and decisions are made unconsciously before you get conscious of these decisions and can act on, or change these decisions. Put people in a brain scanner and ask them questions based on images shown and you can predict their answer by looking at the activity in their brain before they answer (and hence interact with the researcher).

Lets put in a different way, have you ever decided not to do something? Whether that was to not punch someone in the face because that person offended you (even though you thought about it for a split second) or you deciding not to make a forward run even though you perceived that your team-mate was about to play the ball forward? These are example of interactions that where not executed.

To summarize, a Football Action is an interaction with two or more players in the context of the game of football, which means that there are one or more opponents and the rules of the game present. The logical structure of a Football Action is the chronological sequence of Communication, Decision Making and Execution of Decision.


3 thoughts on “Explaining a Football Action

  1. Thank you for the read. One reflection I have is if the neuroscientist using a non representative task (pictures) in the brain scanning bit to explain skillfull attunement in the game?

    Love how you added football (inter)actions. That makes a lot of sense to me.


  2. Pingback: Not fit, then fit?

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