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Embrace a New Era of Football Coaching: Prioritising Functional Play Over Positional Play

Functional Play

The Downfall of Traditional Football Tactics

In recent years, football has been dominated by positional play, a tactical philosophy that has seen success under influential coaches like Pep Guardiola at clubs like Barcelona FC and Manchester City. While this approach has its merits, it has also stifled creativity, limited individual potential, and reduced football to a calculated, mechanical sport. A growing movement now advocates for a more people-centric approach, placing human connection and personal development at the heart of football coaching.

The Illusion of Control: How Positional Play Fails to Capture the Essence of Football

Positional play emphasizes the importance of players occupying specific zones on the pitch, adhering to geometrically perfect shapes, and progressing the ball through optimal passing networks. While this method may have seen success in the past, it overlooks the inherently dynamic, unpredictable, and emotional nature of the beautiful game. Coaches who cling to positional play are not only stifling their players’ creativity but also failing to recognize the core essence of football: its humanity.

A New Football Philosophy: Embracing Human Connection, Creativity, and Fluidity

By challenging conventional wisdom and embracing a more fluid, relationship-based approach to football, young coaches can inspire the next generation of football players and foster an environment that nurtures creativity, personal growth, and deep human connections. This new philosophy incorporates elements of functional play, the Backwards Law, and a focus on supporting the ball carrier.

The Backwards Law: Understanding the Value of Opposing Views

The Backwards Law states that to fully understand one viewpoint, we must become experts in the opposing view. By mastering both positional and functional play, coaches can adapt their tactics to suit their players’ strengths and the unique challenges of each match. This philosophy encourages coaches to be open-minded, adaptable, and genuinely interested in understanding the game from all angles.

Functional Play: A Tactical Approach that Champions Creativity and Fluidity

Functional play, with its roots in South American football, prioritizes player relationships, individual connection with space, and dynamic movement on the pitch. This approach has seen success with clubs like Napoli, Benfica, and Fluminense FC, and it is gaining popularity in European football as well. By adopting functional play, coaches can unlock their players’ full potential and create a more fluid, exciting style of football.

Football as a Human Endeavor: Protecting Players from the Machine

The journey to becoming a successful football coach involves not only mastering tactics but also understanding the importance of human connection, trust, and emotion. Football is not about geometric formations, sterile analytics, or machine-like precision – it is about people, passion, and creativity.

Coaches must recognize their responsibility to protect their players from the pressure of the machine, shielding them from the overwhelming focus on data-driven performance and analytics. By nurturing an environment where players can thrive, express themselves, and enjoy the beautiful game, coaches can inspire the next generation of football players and create a lasting legacy.

A Rebellion Against Positional Play

In recent years, positional play has dominated football tactics and analysis, with principles becoming dogmatic and inflexible. Proponents of this thought-provoking new approach argue that this dogmatic adherence to positional play stifles creativity and limits the potential of both coaches and players. By breaking free from these constraints, coaches can unlock the full potential of their players, fostering a more dynamic, expressive, and unpredictable style of play.

The Reintroduction of the Number 10: Inverting the Field

One intriguing concept gaining traction is the reintroduction of the number 10 role, not just in its traditional position but all over the field. By inverting left and right backs, coaches can create more dynamic and unpredictable attacking options, challenging the status quo and confounding the opposition. This novel tactic underscores the importance of innovation and risk-taking in modern football.

The Power of Connection: Rondos and Immediate Possession

Emphasising the importance of asking for the ball and offering support to the ball carrier, this new coaching philosophy promotes the use of small rondos everywhere in the game. When losing the ball, the focus shifts to regaining possession immediately, fostering a sense of urgency and teamwork. By prioritising feelings, trust, and connection over rigid tactics, coaches can create an environment where players feel empowered to take risks and express themselves on the field.

Challenging the Machine: Rediscovering the Essence of Football

This revolutionary approach to coaching football seeks to dismantle the mechanistic mindset that has crept into the game. By prioritising human relationships, emotion, and intuition over strictly data-driven strategies, coaches can foster a more vibrant, fulfilling, and authentic football for both players and fans.

Questioning the Status Quo: The Importance of Coaching Licenses

While obtaining a football coaching license is a necessary step for aspiring coaches, this new philosophy encourages them to think critically about the knowledge and techniques they acquire during their training. Challenging conventional wisdom and seeking alternative perspectives can lead to a deeper understanding of the game and inspire innovative coaching methods.

The Reality of Football Scouting in 2023: A Shift in Focus

As this new approach gains traction, it’s also influencing the way clubs scout and evaluate talent. Football scouting in 2023 is shifting towards a more comprehensive assessment of players, considering not just their technical skills but also their emotional intelligence, adaptability, and ability to connect with teammates. This holistic approach to talent evaluation aligns with the broader philosophical shift occurring in football coaching.

The Origins of Football and the Rediscovery of Its Essence

By revisiting the origins of football, coaches can gain a deeper appreciation for the game’s essence, which lies in human connection, emotion, and creativity. As the sport has evolved, its true spirit has become increasingly obscured by the trappings of modern football. This controversial new approach aims to restore football to its roots, reconnecting players, coaches, and fans with the beauty and magic of the game.

Embracing Change and Inspiring the Next Generation

This rebellious movement within football coaching is already making waves and inspiring a new generation of coaches to question established norms. By embracing change and fostering a more human-centered approach to the game, these trailblazers are transforming football from the grassroots level to the professional stage. The future of football lies in the hands of those who dare to think differently and challenge the status quo.


Anti Football

The art of visionary thinking, to see beyond the common narrative and break away from conventional wisdom, enabling coaches to create unique and innovative approaches that challenge the status quo. Like the Bob Dylan song “I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more”. Anti-football, anti-machine, anti-fragility. To unlock the full potential of the human and foster creativity through a human-centered approach to coaching.

ReIntroducing the number 10

Football coaching is undergoing a transformative shift towards embracing individual expression and creativity. The reintroduction of the number 10 role, coupled with the inversion of left and right backs, challenges traditional positional play, opening up a realm of new possibilities. By rejecting rigid tactical systems, coaches can foster a more authentic and vibrant football experience that celebrates the unique qualities of each player. This new approach recognizes that football is more than just a game, it is an artistic expression of the human spirit that flourishes when given the freedom to innovate and take risks.

Feeling, Trust and Connection

Modern Football coaching is going through a revolution, a movement that challenges conventional wisdom and prioritises feeling, trust, and connection. As the iconic band The Beatles sang, “You say you want a revolution, well you know, we all want to change the world.” This message of change and transformation echoes throughout the football world, reminding coaches to prioritise the emotional and relational development of their players. By rejecting rigid tactical systems and embracing creativity and emotional intelligence, coaches can unlock the full potential of their players, fostering a style of play that celebrates individual expression and teamwork. Football coaching is a journey of discovery and empowerment, a path towards a brighter and more connected future for players and coaches alike.

One response to “

Embrace a New Era of Football Coaching: Prioritising Functional Play Over Positional Play

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