Basic introduction to a positional idea (I)

An appropriate starting point is understanding the ideas of positional superiority, the space, and its relationship with the information sources or references in the game (i.e. ball-teammates-opponents).

From the notion of positional superiority almost any complex notion can be understood and constructed, and without understanding this idea the possibility of being able to introduce and perform any positional related style is very unlikely. Not by accident at the most basic level almost all of the relevant skills (e.g. learning when or where to pass, if pass or keep the ball, and the reason to do each action) are closely related to the idea of positional superiority.

The essential features are not so much the drills employed or the tactical “concepts”; instead, the key skills and where the focus should be directed is on being able to recognise, and making recognizable, what the advantage[1] constitutes and the required actions to create and exploit from the possession of the ball in any game situation.

From an individual approach we can start from the basic idea of recognizing who is better positioned, how and when to pass to the better positioned player. The general idea can be summarized as follows:

I do not keep the ball if there is a teammate in positional superiority; and I do not pass/release the ball if the receiver has no advantage.

Logically, the subsequent questions will be how can I give him advantage? By dribbling? Attracting opponents?

This implies a sort of sense of responsibility in order to make the things easier for the players involved in the next moments.

At the end it is about being aware that I should keep the ball only if there is not any other teammate in positional superiority. But also knowing how an advantage for a teammate can be created in such cases, and how should the pass be made in order to draw as much advantage as possible. All of this combined with a simple idea, trying to move the ball forward whenever is possible doing so.

Furthermore, it is relevant to note that since every movement of the ball and of the players generates something in the environment, understanding which effects my actions [2] provoke but also doing so in a functional way is essential. The so called concepts are no more than rules to make easier the understanding from outside, at the end, it is about doing it on-action.

“Developing tactical understanding, game-intelligence (…) is matter of developing an actionable understanding of game dynamics from my own characteristics or set of tools to face the game-environment [skilset]. All of which, in turn, is just matter of being efficient in certain tasks while not dramatically bad in others”.

From a collective standpoint, an important notion is that when keeping the possession we have two main tasks: creating and sustaining a structure that connects our players, and also manipulating defenders to destabilize their structure, moving them towards advantageous spaces for our strategical purposes. Or in other words: manipulating opponents through the ball possession.

[1] Without trying to explain in depth it simply refers to the spatio-temporal conditions on which the players make the actions. As such, the better the spatio-temporal conditions the higher the likelihood of completing the action performed. Obviously, the idea of positional superiority is clearly closely linked to this.

[2] It is equally important to understand what do the actions of others provoke and anticipate them.

Related thread.