11 Feb Catalan Elite Head Coach experience of attending the SmartFooball Level 1
One of the Catalan Elite Football Head Coaches writes a blog below, on his experience of attending the SmartFootball level one course last weekend.
A Unique Experience:
With the first Smartfootball Level 1 in Ireland fast approaching (February 20th-21st) our full time Catalan Elite staff visited Barcelona to take in the first course of its kind in Barcelona. In attendance was former Barcelona player Ramon Caldere and former first team physical coach of Villareal and FC Sion Manuel Lapuente among 45 other coaches who participated on the course.
Smart Football (SF) is a unique coaching methodology based around the perception, decision and execution that the player faces in every moment in the game. Although the science behind the methodology is relatively new, the methodology has been practiced in the Catalan region throughout their history. Smartfootball however, has brought a science, structure and proven pathway to the ideas, while addressing the deficiencies within the Catalan coaching curriculum. Juan Luis Martinez, the professor of the curriculum put the methodology into practice with great success with Russian academy Dynamo Moscow when appointed Director of the Academy. Within 2 years of starting the work, the U14 academy team competed and won the world-renowned Manchester world cup in 2014, which was the first ever-Russian side to do so.
The Smart Football Concept:
The concept although quite complex and detailed when you first look at it, can be broken down ultimately into 2 key areas, Offensive phases and Defensive phases. From here, the SF methodology looks at 3 sub areas around this, focusing on transitions, attacking and defending phases/overloads and Finishing. Each part of the training session is designed to challenge the players cognitively at different levels from start to finish. Albert Viñas who delivered the course highlighted the different scenarios players will find themselves in during the game and the process they must go through. The first step is the perception, which is what the player sees and the constantly changing situations and environment, secondly is the decision, where the player must make up his mind within a split second of what he thinks is the correct action to take based on the changing environment, finally comes the execution, the player must now carry out his decision. A player can finds himself in these situations within any of the four stages of the game (attacking, transitioning to defend, defending and in transition to attack).
Once the SF concept was explained and understood came some sample sessions of how the concept was put into place.
Each session focuses on the 3 key areas of the game. One team is in possession (attacking) while the other is defending, when possession is turned over the transitional compartment kicks in with the team dynamic changing for both sides. What was also highlighted at this stage was how each practice was based around either the 11-a-side, 7-a-side or 5 a-side match day formations, making it realistic to the coaches’ teams. The general sub-structure of the session is broken into four parts numbered 1 to 4. The term warm-up was not involved. Each part of the session is rated through cognitive/tactical decisions and intensity of the session. The first part of the session would have a low cognitive and intensity rating to both stimulate and prepare the players for tougher challenges ahead in the session. Part 2 would involve more players both in attacking and defense, therefore the cognitive and intensity level of the session would go up, with more decisions to make around the 3 key areas of the game. Part 3 focusses on overloads from an attacking point of view, but also how you defend against this and be aware of a possible transition. Part 4 would finish with a game with different problems for one of the teams but would be a match situation.
The Technifutbol academy U7-U9 players took place in the demonstration on the pitch. We were all eager to see how the players following the concept, would play in the session. Part one was a 3v1 or 4v1 rondo practice. This part of the session had a low cognitive and intensity challenge, but still worked on the 3-step process that the players would face. The coaches’ attitude in this process was to observe and assess what the players are doing well, and what could be improved. They encouraged the players as they observed and re-affirmed them with some coaching queues. The session seemed to only stop for quick breaks where the coach would reflect on what was happening in the rondo, asking open-ended questions for the players, again always trying to stimulate the player’s brain during the session. The reflection process is a main part of the SF methodology coaching style. Everyone was impressed with the player’s level of knowledge around the session. During the session the coaches would encourage and use coaching queues but never stopping the game to tell the players what to do. Part 2, went into a 5 v 3 possession practice and part 3 was a 3v2 attacking overload game.
Part 4 was a game practice. This was the part of the session which was most impressive when the players played. The style of play and the structure to their play was extraordinary for such a young age. At times it wasn’t perfected and the players made a lot of mistakes. Generally the shape of the two teams when defending and attacking was clear to see, using the width and depth of the pitch when in possession and collectively pressing as a team when defending. The composure of the players playing out from the back was the composure of a professional player at times. They were calm and relaxed when it was close to their goal, with the speed of the play increasing as they advanced up the pitch.
The session finished with a question and answers session, followed by a short visual examination and reflection period for the coaches.
The coaches who are attending the course in Dublin and Tipperary are sure to acquire new knowledge and a detailed insight into the methodology with Pro License Catalan tutor Albert Vinas taking the course. This blog was a snap shot of what you might be exposed to on the course.
There are still a limited number of spaces available on the course. You can register on