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SMARTFOOTBALL – ANOTHER WAY OF UNDERSTANDING THE GAME (FERNANDO ITURBE)

SmartFootball  – Another way of understanding the game 

On the 21st of February Catalan Elite Football had the pleasure to bring the first SmartFootball level 1 to Ireland, a big event that took place at the Dublin football indoor facilities. 38 coaches from different clubs attended the course from various different schoolboy clubs around the country.  Mr. Albert Viñas, a UEFA Pro License coach and head tutor to the Catalan FA delivered the course along with Marc Miquel (Catalan Elite head coach).  The course was an intensive course, which ran from 9 am – 6 pm. The coaches worked on the theory of SmartFootball in the classroom and seen it put into practice with some Catalan Elite Academy players on the pitch. At the end of the course they sat an exam to demonstrate their understanding of the methodology. All of the coaches got a detailed insight into the SF methodology and have an understanding of how to implement this methodology with their players.

(Albert Viñas with some of the Catalan Elite coaches speaking with the young players during the session. Behind, all of the coaches analysing the session).

SmartFootball focuses on developing the decision making process within the brain during training sessions. Players have to make decisions based on a lot of different factors. Some questions a player might face in a game could be: Where are the defenders? Where is the space? Where are my teammates? Are my teammates in good space? The questions can go on and on. In SF we look at the changing environment and understand the different decisions a player has to face every second of the game. In SF the decision making process is worked within real game situations in attack, defence and transitions.

Training in this way gives the players the best chance to develop both technically and tactically in real game situations. SmartFootball has been designed to train in the same way that the game is played on a match day, working on the key areas of the game. The methodology gives players an understanding of all the situations/problems that a player could find in a real game situation and how he can best solve these problems and make the best decision.

In all clubs players practice during the week and the exam is at the weekend in their match. My question now is… why do we train in a way, which only focuses on simple technical skills? Which are not relevant to the test at the weekend. Are we not forgetting the whole game if we train in this way? Are we giving our players the best chance to improve on match day?

For example, below are two different training sessions, which show how we can design a session that works on the same topic, but work on the topic in two very different ways.

-Case A) Passing Qualities:

Two players in front of each other making simple passes.

The context is not real  (defenders, numbers of players, no movement, no defenders).

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-Case B) Passing Qualities: SmartFootball Methodology

Five attacking players play inside a square against two defenders. As you can see, the context is totally related to the game: Five attackers in blue show a team shape that is the same as a match (centre back/right back/left back with a midfielder and striker).  The two players in yellow are defenders and can be related back to the game as two strikers trying to stop the opposition playing out from the back.

The tactical idea for the attackers is to link with the midfielder and striker to finish in the goal (each player must make passing channels and offer passing solutions, with an awareness of the changing environment). The tactical idea for the defenders is to block passing channels and try to win the ball back.

This game can simply be adapted for different levels of players, for example, take out a defender or add a defender, make the space bigger or smaller.

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Passing qualities is the key objective of both sessions. The difference is that in the second session (SmartFootball methodology) the game and movements are related to the movements and a situation within a real game. In case B the example is playing out from the back for the attacking team and defending from the front for the opposition team.

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(layers and coaches with Albert and the European Elite staff)

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