Player Behaviour

A team’s tactic is never carried out perfectly by its players. Therefore, it is important to analyse how players behave in practice.

Player Decision Making

A player’s decision making refers to his choices regarding the use of playing methods. A player’s decision making is affected primarily by his tactical instructions, but is also affected by various other factors.

Different decisions by a player carry different levels of tactical risk. This is largely because a player’s decisions relate to the use of playing methods and different playing methods carry different levels of tactical risk.

Factors that affect a player’s decision making include:

  • His tactical instructions – primarily a player chooses to use playing methods according to his tactical instructions. His attacking instructions regarding creativity attacking methods affect the extent to which he chooses to follow his other attacking instructions.
  • His mental abilities – a player’s intelligence, focus and endeavour affect how he chooses to use playing methods. In particular, the better his intelligence and focus are, the higher the quality of his decision making is.
  • His traits – a player is more likely to use playing methods that he has a preference for.
  • His role understanding – the better a player’s role understanding of the tactical role he is playing in is, the higher the quality of his decision making is.
  • His fitness – the better a player’s physical condition is, the higher the quality of his decision making is. If a player is tired or injured then his decision making is poorer. A player can tire more quickly and be more likely to suffer injury if his tactical instructions tell him to use higher risk player movement playing methods to a greater extent.
  • The time he has to make decisions – the more time a player has to make decisions, the higher the quality of his decision making is. In the attacking phases a player has less time to make decisions if his attacking instructions tell him to use high tempo play or if the defending team applies more defensive pressure by using higher risk defensive methods to a greater extent. In the defensive phases a player has less time to make decisions if his defensive instructions tell him to use higher risk defensive methods to a greater extent or if the attacking team applies more attacking pressure by using higher risk attacking methods to a greater extent.

Player Mistakes

A mistake by a player is an inefficient choice or performance of a playing method by the player that makes it more difficult for his team to achieve one or more of its tactical objectives.

An attacking mistake by a player is a mistake by a player in the attacking phases and a defensive mistake by a player is a mistake by a player in the defensive phases.

Factors that affect the likelihood of players making mistakes include their abilities, their player suitability and their decision making.

Decision Making Mistakes

A decision making mistake by a player is an inefficient choice of a playing method by the player that makes it more difficult for his team to achieve one or more of its tactical objectives.

For example, a player may make a decision making attacking mistake by choosing to make a safe pass to keep possession when he could instead have exploited a high quality penetrative opportunity, or a decision making defensive mistake by choosing to close down the player on the ball, leaving another attacking team player in more available space in a more threatening area.

Factors that affect how likely a player is to make a decision making mistake are based on the factors that affect a player’s decision making as detailed above. They include:

  • His tactical instructions – if a player has inefficient tactical instructions then he is more likely to make a decision making mistake. In addition, if he is instructed to use higher risk attacking methods to a greater extent then he is more likely to make a decision making attacking mistake that makes it more difficult for his team to keep possession, retain solidity or retain compactness, while if he is instructed to use lower risk attacking methods to a greater extent then he is more likely to make a decision making attacking mistake that makes it more difficult for his team to penetrate space. Similarly, if he is instructed to use higher risk defensive methods to a greater extent then he is more likely to make a decision making defensive mistake that makes it more difficult for his team to protect space or retain compactness, while if he is instructed to use lower risk defensive methods to a greater extent then he is more likely to make a decision making defensive mistake that makes it more difficult for his team to restrict space.
  • His mental abilities – the poorer a player’s intelligence and focus are, the more likely he is to make a decision making mistake.
  • His player suitability – the less suitable a player’s mental abilities and traits are for the tactical role he is playing in and the poorer his role understanding of the role is, the more likely he is to make a decision making mistake.
  • His fitness – the poorer a player’s physical condition is, the more likely he is to make a decision making mistake.
  • The time he has to make decisions – the less time a player has to make decisions, the more likely he is to make a decision making mistake.

Technical Mistakes

A technical mistake by a player is an inefficient performance of a playing method (other than decision-based playing methods such as tempo, attacking mentality, defensive mentality and creativity playing methods) by the player that makes it more difficult for his team to achieve one or more of its tactical objectives.

For example, a player may make a technical attacking mistake by making an inaccurate pass that enables a defending team player to intercept the ball, or a technical defensive mistake by making an unsuccessful tackle that enables the player on the ball to move the ball into a more threatening area.

Factors that affect how likely a player is to make a technical mistake are similar to those for decision making mistakes. They include:

  • His tactical instructions – if a player is instructed to use higher risk playing methods then he is more likely to make a technical mistake because such playing methods are usually harder to perform efficiently.
  • His technical and physical abilities – the poorer a player’s technical and physical abilities are, the more likely he is to make a technical mistake.
  • His role suitability – the less suitable a player’s technical and physical abilities are for the tactical role he is playing in, the more likely he is to make a technical mistake.
  • His fitness – the poorer a player’s physical condition is, the more likely he is to make a technical mistake.
  • The time he has to make decisions – the less time a player has to make decisions, the more likely he is to make a technical mistake. This is because the player has less time to ensure that he performs the playing method efficiently.