In recent years, two training paradigms (the tactical periodisation of Vitor Frade and the structured training of Francisco Seirul·lo) have revolutionised the way we understand preparation in team sports. The proposal from Professor Seirul·lo is the result of more than 40 years of research, reflection and practise with athletes. A recent publication1 compiles a detailed collection of a significant part of these guidelines.
Seirul·lo’s training proposal starts from a complex conception of the Human Sportsperson (HSP). A male or female athlete comprises a series of hypercomplex structures that relate to each other interactively and retroactively. These complexities are as follows: Biological structure (related to energetic pathways), Cognitive structure (responsible for the perception-action process), Coordinative structure (related to mobility, laterality and dissociation), Conditional structure (related to motor capabilities), Creative-expressive structure (associated with the expressive capability and the interpersonal relationships that appear in competition), Socio-affective structure (to do with the relationship and identification with teammates and the role that each one takes on), Emotive-volitional structure (related to feelings and moods) and Mental structure (how all of the structures relate to each other).
The evolution of the HSP and the possibilities to improve their performance will only be achieved when all previous structures are stimulated equally. Coaches must propose tasks and situations that engage the HSP and allow them to self-improve in order for them to better understand the situation that needs to be resolved and adapt their capabilities accordingly. We can never say that we are working at 70% or 80%2. It will depend on each athlete, on their desires, motivations or on their own capabilities. It will be necessary to abandon linear cause-effect relationships.
Each HSP proposes personal and specific solutions as a consequence of their personal interpretation of the situations that they must resolve. This way of understanding preparation is structured training. Optimisation in the training of the HSP acknowledges that the conditions in which the tasks are performed are what enable athletes to self-improve, or not3. There is no physical preparation or technical training as such. There is, only an improvement of the HSP4. This is only possible when the tasks proposed by the coach allow the athlete to decide freely, which in turn create a personal experience of that action. GPS data, lactate analysers or heart rate monitors cannot be the only indicators for training sessions. We must not confuse what is measurable with what is important.
But the proposal of Professor Seirul·lo also provides clear indications for understanding the game and the “Barça model”. The coach should help the team and the players to learn to continuously interpret what is happening in each situation of the game in two different spaces5: the intervention space, where the player wishes to carry out an action on an opponent and, in small numbers, the closest teammates help the person performing the movement to execute their plan successfully; and the space phase, where the remaining space away from the ball must be occupied by other team members. This is about players learning to identify the needs created in each space and to propose suitable actions at all times to generate numerical (“there are more of us”), positional (“we are better positioned”), socio-affective (“we understand each other better”) or qualitative (“we are better”) superiorities according to each player involved in the intervention space. This understanding of the game is brought into the training sessions through Preferential Simulation Situations (PSS). We must generate events in the training sessions that simulate the game and which preferentially affect the different systems according to the rules, spaces and numbers of players taking part. The PSS must be constructed through global tasks, preferably in groups, with an open game and with the aim of learning the game, not the exercise. Each player should activate the systems that best enable them to respond to the situation created according to their own conditions and personality.
Carlos Lago Peñas
1 Tarragó, J.R.; Massafret, M.; Seirul·lo, F. and Cos, F. (2019). Entrenamiento en deportes deportes de equipo: el entrenamiento estructurado en el FCB. Apunts. 137: 103-114.
2 Seirul·lo, F. (2009). Una línea de trabajo distinta. Revista de Entrenamiento Deportivo, 23(4): 13-18.
3 Seirul·lo, F. (1998): Valores educativos del deporte en D. Blázquez (ed): La iniciación deportiva y el deporte escolar (2ª edición), pp. 61-75, Barcelona: INDE.
4 Seirul·lo, F. (1993b): Preparación física aplicada a los deportes de equipo, Colección CadernosTécnico-Pedagóxicos do INEF de Galicia, A Coruña: Centro Galego de Documentación e Edicións Deportivas.
5 Seirul·lo, F. (2010). Estructura sociafectiva. Documento INEFC – Barcelona. Taken from: http://www.motricidadhumana.com/estructura_socioafectiva_doc_seirul_lo_Outline_drn.pdf