Often as coaches we are naïve, because we pretend that what happens in the game it happens as we planned, and we find it hard to accept when our approach is not the ideal one.
“If we knew what was going to happen, nothing would happen.” Dante Panzeri
The role of the coach is to set an specific path for the group, to help the players to create a mental landscape of what can happen and to be competent there, in those situations that we suppose will be given. We invest hours and training in analyzing and exploring what may occur and what we want to happen. But to fulfill these functions 100%, we tend to forget something very important: to be able to prepare our players / team to respond effectively to the unpredictable and to solve the problems of the game when the sign of the game is very different of what the coach has expected.
My point is that we train and prepare teams to be proficient on sunday´s game, and we provide all the information to obtain the maximum performance in the match, we play, we win-lose-tie and we start again to prepare the next one, giving the specific feedback to the player for that match, considering the success we have had in the previous games.
I doubt there are any research in this area, but could you figure out the percentage of unpredictable events that happen in a football match? A player that slips, a second ball, a technical error, a jump at the wrong time, a misunderstanding in defense, a fantasy dribble, etc … an infinity of spontaneous situations, and we will agree, present in almost every game, that act as trigger to new situations almost impossible to predict. I do not know if it’s a high percentage, but I’m sure that’s quite significant.
Now we move that reality to our training session, how important we consider these kind of situations, which curiously many times change the sign of the game? I do not mean that we spend the training slipping or deliberately falling, the question is if we are acting well giving so much importance to our game and opposition analysis, and not taking care of something that appears in each game, the unpredictability of the game.
I think our team would be more efficient in the matches if we spent more time preparing for something that we know for sure will happen in EVERY MATCH we play, and less in something we think can happen, which unfortunately for coaches does not usually appear so often.
My suggestion is is simply to give more importance to the GAME within our training sessions, because every simple game will lead us to unpredictability and consequently our players will be able to adapt to the unpredictable. If they are competent in this in the first place, ¿won´t they have more chances to dominate the game plan the coach is always looking for?