Science has changed training in team sports by modifying many routines and preparations. The quantification of everything which takes place in a training session is one of the goals for the staff. It is about measuring workloads, recovery times, efforts necessary to achieve adaptation, etc. It is easier to accomplish our goals if we can measure the current state we are in, in order to reach the desired end state.
However, it is possible that some mistakes are being made during the competition as well as knowing the players’ fitness state. Following professor Seirul·lo’s proposal, which is a result of over 40 years of research and practice with athletes, team sports performance assessment should take into account the following criteria. 1-6
- Quantitative methods (number of positive and negative actions, distance covered, etc.) should be complemented with qualitative evaluations. The players’ perception of their own performance might be more relevant than the result itself, which is the only thing that is measured. We already know that measuring or quantifying a task, it only indicates what the athlete is actually doing.7
- General tests (for example, a jump or an endurance test) cannot be used to measure the behaviour during the game or an athlete’s physical state. The strict qualification of a player’s performance during the game must be assessed through their performance during the game, that is, by their specific actions in each match. Endurance tests may be very useful, but they don’t provide insightful information to make decisions for a match. It provides objective measurements, but these results are far away from what is needed for the demands of competition. Training sessions, as well as player decisions, shouldn’t be taken based on data which doesn’t have much to do with the reality of competition.
- In order to monitor training session, objective observations must be made on certain conditions involving the training activities performed by this team of players. This is very useful to acknowledge the optimization level accomplished in those systems that consider each player’s achievement. Possibly, it isn’t necessary to do another test.
- Observing the athlete during competition is the only way to know their fitness condition. Decontextualized evaluations of the situation in which the player’s behaviour occurs are not worth to evaluate or to make a decision.
- The assessment of the players’ behaviour depends on the context of each team, coach, rival or moment within the season. First of all, it is necessary to determine what we want to control and once the goal has been defined a procedure can be articulated and designed even using technology. After that, it all depends on how one interprets the information obtained with these procedures. If you want to control performance, you must define what that concept is and design the correct procedures that will enable to control this concept. Depending on how one understands and defines the game, it will determine the most efficient way to control these mechanisms. Then statistics from the data recorded can help to come up with the appropriate conclusions.
Training guidelines must be clear, and as Paco Seirul·lo1 mentions, “during the training session self-observation and self-assessment must be trained, and also when and how to communicate these observations made. These subjective assessments must be trained and must be contrasted with those made by the coach and by each player of the other players. It would be extraordinary to have also the opposing players’ assessment, but this is highly unlikely to occur. If the coach and the players understand the observation criteria, it is only necessary to decide when and which technology will be used to gather this information. This is valuable information, which will help the player’s optimization as well as performance. Only through rational knowledge of our actions, we will be able to modify it for other actions. That is why we consider this type of observations key, in order to meet the criteria above mentioned”.
On the path of continuous improvement for teams and players, they must be in the spotlight. Nobody knows better than them if a change of task is necessary, if they have already understood the exercise or if the explanation mentioned is enough for them to understand. As Julio Garganta suggests, “it is increasingly necessary -from youth academies– to create an internal culture in which the player can express themselves with autonomy and tell us… For example, if a certain way of playing helps them or if they find it hard to perform at their best. I’m not speaking about abstract culture, but about sports culture, teaching and training culture, so that you can better tune in with the player and understand that under a football shirt there’s a person, with beliefs and convictions.”
It is convenient to remember a thought attributed to Albert Einstein: Not everything that counts must be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts Neither in team sports.
Carlos Lago Peñas
1 Seirul·lo Vargas, F. (2001). Entrevista de Metodologia y Planificación. Training Fútbol.
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 Cadernos Técnico-Pedagóxicos do INEF de Galicia, A Coruña: Centro Galego de Documentación e Edicións Deportivas.
5 Seirul.lo, F. (2010). Estructura sociafectiva. Documento INEFC – Barcelona. Tomado de: http://www.motricidadhumana.com/estructura_socioafectiva_doc_seirul_lo_Outline_drn.pdf
6 Seirul·lo Vargas, F. (1993). Preparación física aplicada a los deportes de equipo: balonmano. Cuadernos Técnico Pedagógicos de INEF de Galicia nº 7.
7 Durand, (M. (1988). El niño y el deporte. Barcelona: Paidós.