Tactics for Beginners – an Introduction

Tactics for Beginners – an Introduction
September 20, 2012 Bob Pearce

By Bob Pearce.

‘Tactical Blindness’


I have been watching football for over 40 years, but recently I’ve increasingly realised that the way I have been watching games is very limited. I want to see more. I want to look at something that is familiar and ordinary and see it as fresh and extraordinary. You could say I know there is a different paradigm, and I’m trying to shift myself to it.

How do I see the game at the moment? I see periods of ‘inactivity’, mixed with spells of excitement around the goals. I am surprised when a player suddenly appears, apparently out of nowhere. I am thinking ‘Where did he come from?’. Then they show the replay and I can see his run. But then we go back to real time again, and I will be surprised when it happens again. I guess I am guilty of ‘ball watching’.

Intuitively I can tell that ‘the tide has turned’ in a game, but there’s been no obvious change like a substitution, and I can not tell you what has changed to cause the tide to turn, or the moment it turned.

I see ‘star’ players who are like the ‘box office’ names in a movie, and all the other players are supporting actors. I know this is encouraged by TV and press, and even the club and the player, as it helps generate income for them all. This is usually focused on the goal scorers, and I can recognise this is a bit like saying ‘My postman is my hero’ because he delivers the letter through my letterbox, while ignoring the whole logistics of the postal system that put the letter in the postman’s hand.

I want to see the bigger picture. I want to understand ‘the postal system’. I want to get away from ‘star’ players and be able to see all players contributing to the whole performance. As someone somewhere once said, I want ‘the system to be the star’.

I want to get away from ‘We need to work harder‘, and understand how ‘We need to work smarter‘.

It’s a bit like I have enjoyed eating meals for many years – I can tell you what I like, but I do not really understand what goes into making that meal, and whether it is a healthy meal or not? What are the ingredients, and how do they work together to produce the appearance, the flavours, the textures, and the smells, that can be either exotic and exciting, or bland and boring?

I realise that I am enjoying the lovely juicy fruit, but not seeing the stem it grows on, the branch of the tree, the trunk supporting the branches, the roots that feed the tree, the way the tree has grown, and what it needs to flourish.

I do not expect to become an ‘expert’ or anywhere close. I just want to get myself somewhere on that learning curve. We might call it ”Tactics for Beginners’, with me as that Beginner.

I also understand that, by definition, it will involve me going outside my comfort zone. I also believe there are no ‘dumb’ questions, because if one person is wondering about something, there will probably be others wondering about it too. If I ask the so-called ‘dumb’ questions, then those other people will be thinking ‘I’m glad he asked because I was wondering about that too, but I didn’t want to look stupid in front of everybody’. So I believe these are actually ‘brave’ questions, and I’m volunteering to be the brave one. Maybe this could help me, and other TTT readers that want to stop having ‘Tactical Blindness’ too.

You are at one end of the tactics knowledge spectrum and I am at the other. We can try to meet somewhere in the middle. The image I have in my head is that we are sat together watching a game and I keep turning to you to ask ‘Mihail how did that just happen?’

Mihail has agreed and starting next week this will be a regular series of articles.