A constraints led autodidactic model for soccer


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A brief look at how small-sided games create a self-learning environment in soccer.

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  • This presentation considers soccer learning from the non-linear, constraints based, systems perspective. The following ideas draw from a wide range of authors, theories, fields and practices.
  • This model will identify and take into account some of the major limitations faced by soccer coaches. To temporarily suspend constraints to make a point is Okay. To continually deny them is to deny reality. Constraints can enable or aid action. For example, gravity is a constraint but an aid when moving heavy objects downhill. Activity; explain how to create and execute a wall pass. Use diagrams if necessary. Does the opponent cooperate with the action? Is luck only on the side of the attackers? When players can’t act freely or they react inappropriately, when luck always favors one team you’re wandering outside of reality. For short periods that maybe Okay. For long, (that’s relative) periods you are reading from a script.
  • 1) This model deals with people in goal directed action. The action faces temporal, physical and cognitive constraints. This model will be constrained primarily by physics and communication theory.
  • Adapted from the KNVB’s Dutch Vision. Without these five elements soccer does not exist , therefore these are general constraints like hydrogen is to water. (*Goals exist physically as equipment. The ‘goals’ here exist as objectives, concepts, rules and agreements.) Matter is organic and inorganic. Organic matter is an ‘open’ system and inorganic isn’t. Matter defines the boundaries of a system, the objects at the material edge. “ By object is meant some element in the complex whole that is defined in abstraction from the whole of which it is a distinction.” John Dewey. Energy comes in different forms; internal, external, on-going and transitory. Energy defines the boundaries of a field and is constrained by the systems material boundaries, i.e. the objects. The interaction of energy and matter is spelled out in Newton’s Second Law of Motion as force. “A force is any influence that causes a free body to undergo a change in speed, direction or shape. Force can also be described as a push or pull on an object.” In this model energy is a force that gets work done and work is always against some resistance . When energy connects objects in meaningful ways systems are born. The rules are soccer’s (and any sport) most constraining feature. There are many games that pit two teams in competition, use a ball, are played on a field and have goals at the opposite ends. It’s the restrictions in action within the rules that make soccer unique from the these other games.
  • Soccer is never discussed outside of a conceptual model. Models like; technique, tactics, fitness and psychology; TIC; 1 st , 2 nd , 3 rd attacker/defender; pressure, cover, balance, recreational or competitive are simply ways to reduce the complexity of the game so that it can be understood. In this sense, the model frames the discussion of how problems are observed, evaluations are made and solutions are generated. It’s a point of view. Players and coaches with a single POV are much more likely to develop a bias towards that one way, “the right way” of seeing things. This leads to dogmatic thinking and hinders creativity and adaptability. To quote George Box, “Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful.” That point is always left up to you and the situation you face. Why are goals scored follows the four main moments, a soccer maxim. It exposes all players to each one with competitors and teammates and every goal or attempt impacts both teams. It serves for both descriptive and prescriptive models. You can analyze past goals, the descriptive use and look forward to future opportunities the prescriptive side. Goals are everyone's concern but real responsibility will come down to a handful of individuals at a specific moment. Since the future is unknown who, what, why, how, where and when are an open questions. This keeps everyone in a state of tension because ‘they could be next.’ The answers have a consequence. Feedback is from the specific, individual players, actions, decisions to the general. You learn from feedback, drawing on reflective experience to build expertise. A goal is a specific event with a clear cause-effect chain so it represents an ideal example to reflect on for learning. The complexity rises out of the uncertainty players face. They never know if what they intend to do is a mistake until it’s too late.
  • The player in possession was allowed to move the ball forward. This could be a pass, dribble or shot. There has never been a goal scored from a ball played directly across the field or back. The player defending the player in possession was beaten and there was no supporting cover. Some players will need help all of the time and all players will need help some of the time. Recognizing who, when, where, how and what to do is part art and part science. In a time constrained situation, with incomplete information and conflicting agendas this is often learned when it’s too late. If you have possession of the ball the other team can’t score. But, if you don’t put the ball at risk at some point you won’t either. Ball possession is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Furthermore, the opponents are not the useless dummies like the one’s on the whiteboard. They’re playing also. Opponents were allowed to run into dangerous positions unmarked. This can result in a numerical advantage for them. Often these runs are just a matter of a few yards, just 2-3 seconds or across the field behind defenders. During a restart it is impossible to apply direct pressure on the player with the ball and they have the benefit of using a rehearsed play. # One reason alone usually does not produce a goal. The exception are restarts like penalties or direct free-kicks. It takes two or more happening together or in close sequence - proximity to produce goals. The strength of using ‘why are goals scored’ as the primary question for viewing the game is that it is everyone's on-going concern. If a player has a ‘technical’ problem and it’s linked back to specific goals the technical problem assumes greater relevance. Even when goals are few, coaches can use this point of view as their framework as in, “why aren’t we scoring or getting quality chances?” Finally, it supercedes all of the other models. Whether it’s technique, tactics, psychology and fitness, TIC, building-up/follow-up/creative phase and attacking phase they all ultimately have one thing as the focus, scoring or preventing goals.
  • The key to understanding soccer are the relationships between the parts, how they interact. Interactions involve communication. Communication involves the transfer of information and information travels as energy. The transfer of energy requires a sender, a form, a channel and a receiver. The transfer of information requires a common language, a signal the receiver can understand. Linear, non-dynamic models of soccer do not contain ‘free interactions.’ They can become dependent on a script for their prescriptive advice. Checklists, diagrams with frozen opponents or perfect technical execution, coaching rigidly to a topic and guarantees that x+y=z every time are examples of this thinking. These are fine as a starting point or a description but almost immediately fall apart going forward. Global constraints run in the background. Examples are; the laws of the game, gravity, consciousness, Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Four Main Moments, OODA loops Local constraints rise to the foreground. Examples; a players task, the flight of the ball, a call, tackle from behind, a thought. These are transitory concerns. An analogy is that ongoing rules are like a computers operating system and transient ones are like the applications. We use applications and trust that the operating system is working properly. Players are limited in the selection of transitory, local concerns against the background of ongoing ones.
  • Systems have two interlaced boundary constraints. Matter creates the spatial limits and energy creates the communication limits. In soccer, objects are the ‘physical’ boundaries and their ability to interact, i.e. communicate is the energy boundary. Matter creates and defines system boundaries, geographic space. Exercise; write down what you see as the dominate system in the picture. 1-4-2-3-1? The club? Cup game? The back four? The league? Diamonds and triangle? First touch? UEFA? Champions league? The subs? The coach? The transfer market? Concessions? Traffic? Security? Television? Your first choice is based on your default point of view, your bias for understanding the picture. Changing it rapidly is necessary for survival on the field. Exercise; Where do you draw the boundaries on your system? Take this POV and work two levels up and two down. What did you add going up, take out going down? Energy creates and defines the systems fields, time and limits to communication. Exercise; How does your system stay together? What is the glue that binds it in action? What is it’s nature? Does it change when you went up and down? How do you connect and move your system through time? The glue that binds is energy/information. Remember this sales adage and how it relates to boundaries, “Now that you told me your good reason, tell me your real one.” Case in point from the paper, “Ever since Barcelona completed the signing of Afellay there have been conspiracy theories circulating that the deal was done solely so the club could sell the undoubtedly talented footballer for a quick and tidy profit to help ease their debt burden. If Liverpool offer the right amount – around £13m – those theories could be found to be correct.” If this is true, the system at work during the purchase was not ‘on the field’ but in the ‘ledger sheets.’
  • 1) This is based largely on the following documents, books, theories, models and authors. Ludwig von Bertalanffy, General Systems Theory is “ a set of interrelated concepts and principles applying to all systems, the set of models, strategies, methods, and tools that instrumentalize systems theory and philosophy, the application and interaction of the domains.” Kurt Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem. From Destruction and Creation, “ G ö del's Proof indirectly shows that in order to determine the consistency of any new system we must construct or uncover another system beyond it.” Werner Heisenberg, Uncertainty principle. From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Quantum mechanics is generally regarded as the physical theory that is our best candidate for a fundamental and universal description of the physical world. The conceptual framework employed by this theory differs drastically from that of classical physics. Indeed, the transition from classical to quantum physics marks a genuine revolution in our understanding of the physical world. One striking aspect of the difference between classical and quantum physics is that whereas classical mechanics presupposes that exact simultaneous values can be assigned to all physical quantities, quantum mechanics denies this possibility, the prime example being the position and momentum of a particle. According to quantum mechanics, the more precisely the position (momentum) of a particle is given, the less precisely can one say what its momentum (position) is.” Niklas Luhmann, Systems, social and communications theory. “Social systems are self-referential systems based on meaningful communication. They use communication to constitute and interconnect the events (actions) which build up the systems. In this sense they are "autopoietic" systems. They exist only by reproducing the events which serve as components of the system. They consist therefore as events, i.e. actions, which they themselves reproduce and they exist only as long as this is possible. This, of course, presupposes a highly complex environment. The environment of social systems includes other social systems, (the environment of a family includes for example other families, the political system, the economic system, the medical system, and so on). Therefore communications between social systems is possible; and this means that social systems have to be observing systems, being able to use, for internal and external communication, a distinction between themselves and their environment, perceiving other systems within their environment.” Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions . How paradigms come into being, or, the clash between the old and the new.
  • Systems require at least two entities communicating and every player holds center stage, at least from his or her point of view. Everyone has their own “orientation” and that limits them, it creates a boundary around their POV from those of others. Building understanding and trust is the best way to bridge this. That POV undergoes constant updating which changes the boundary. This implies that the boundary is in a ‘permanent state of change’ while it separates the self from it’s environment. If the boundary is too rigid, dogmatic or hardened the ability to interact with the environment, including others POV will be impaired. The self will assume it’s the larger system, become inflexible and adaptability suffers. On the other hand, if the boundary is too flexible, indecisive or weak the ability to work towards a goal, i.e. be a force will be impaired. There won’t be any there-there. These are players who just follow the last thought or order. That results in ‘running behind the ball’ who need continual direction. A system must contain individuals but it can work without any individual. Since soccer is limited to player/system interaction an individual must find a system to join. (By default you join a team in the game.) Their search will be restricted by proximity, agreement, understanding and communication. The dynamic nature of soccer will keep these constraints in constant flux. That, in turn, will require every player to continually reevaluate their relationships along the ‘flowing edge.’ To borrow an idea from William Duggan, if you’re going to sail a boat, ‘your dharma will have to mix with other peoples dharma in a sea of turbulent karma.’
  • The game is spent in goal directed activity, often undertaken by a system made up of several players from both teams . During this interval some or all of the players may be developing new goals. This can result in a new goal for the existing system, a new system with a new goal or the old goal being retained by the new system. The focus for work and the members involved are in constant change. Without a common frame of reference everyone would set independent goals, how to get there and how everyone else should act in accordance with their plan. To keep the system on task you need two things, a flexible frame and a framer.* Why goals are scored is the framing mechanism, the framer will be addressed in slide 12. *Even having a clearly understood and agreed to frame doesn’t guarantee success. Players have different orientations, geographic points of view, timescales and chance always plays a role. These factors also enter into how harmonized and cohesive a group can be.
  • Autopoietic systems are focused on self-creation. A biological cell is an example. Here the system’s focus is on getting as much as it can for itself and leaving waste as output. It’s a positive feedback loop and cancer is an extreme example. The goal is to maintain or expand the system even at the expense of others in the environment. Allopoietic systems are designed to produce something other than the system itself. An assembly line is an example. Here the systems focus is on efficiency and task completion. The aim is to take in as little and to get as high a return as possible. At their best the autopoietic system represents the effort to maintain harmony, cohesion and self-growth, maintenance functions. The allopoietic system is focused on getting the job done, task functions. The problem that autopoietic systems have is that they can become too self-centered without taking into account results. The problem with allopoietic systems is that the focus is on immediate production and it will become blind to future trends, the United States Post Office is an example. The ‘zone for growth-learning and interaction’ is the area that’s created by overlapping the two systems. Here the job gets done and the system itself is able to benefit by reflecting on the experience. Self-generation and growth. This represents an ‘optimal’ state series of dynamic interactions, in short a complex system of players and sub-systems can approach a goal by using the dialectical approach from slide 13. A meaningful past is open to reflection to create intelligent memory for future use while the current task is being actively worked on. The meta-question has to frame and capture both of the sub-systems, 1 & 2. If scoring and preventing goals are NOT of serious consequence to the maintenance of the group the groups problems cannot be solved in a team tactical technical form. The motivation, point of view, doesn’t consider ‘goals’ as important therefore it will fail to unify anyone as a common objective. This is a big problem in recreational teams. The POV is self-centered on some other global concern, i.e. equal playing time. The meta-question cannot be framed consistently from within the autopoietic, allopoietic or even ‘the zone’ for too long. The ‘systems, 1, 2 & 3’ in the diagram are temporary and context dependent. As soon as it’s job is done, it has been overwhelmed by the opponents or is out of date a new arrangement will take it’s place. To continue with ‘intent,’ i.e. the goal of the team, the meta-system, i.e. coach or key player can formulate a new meta-question, refine or apply the old one to a new situation. The six W’s on slide 17. David Winner quotes Barry Hulshoff in Brilliant Orange ; “When you are all equal at the same level you have to make decisions together… It’s better that one man is outside the group, controlling everything. Then you can talk together as equals. But there must be someone who is above, who makes decisions and controls, takes sanctions and so on. And therefore you need a trainer. A team on it’s own can’t do it. The team can’t make the rules.” From John Boyd’s Destruction and Creation; DESTRUCTION AND CREATION GOAL Studies of human behavior reveal that the actions we undertake as individuals are closely related to survival, more importantly, survival on our own terms. Naturally, such a notion implies that we should be able to act relatively free or independent of any debilitating external influences—otherwise that very survival might be in jeopardy. In viewing the instinct for survival in this manner we imply that a basic aim or goal, as individuals, is to improve our capacity for independent action .” The degree to which we cooperate, or compete, with others is driven by the need to satisfy this basic goal. If we believe that it is not possible to satisfy it alone, without help from others, history shows us that we will agree to constraints upon our independent action—in order to collectively pool skills and talents in the form of nations, corporations, labor unions, mafias, etc. —so that obstacles standing in the way of the basic goal can either be removed or overcome. On the other hand, if the group cannot or does not attempt to overcome obstacles deemed important to many (or possibly any) of its individual members, the group must risk losing these alienated members. Under these circumstances, the alienated members may dissolve their relationship and remain independent, form a group of their own, or join another collective body in order to improve their capacity for independent action . ENVIRONMENT In a real world of limited resources and skills, individuals and groups form, dissolve and reform their cooperative or competitive postures in a continuous struggle to remove or overcome physical and social environmental obstacles. In a cooperative sense, where skills and talents are pooled, the removal or overcoming of obstacles represents an improved capacity for independent action for all concerned. In a competitive sense, where individuals and groups compete for scarce resources and skills, an improved capacity for independent action achieved by some individuals or groups constrains that capacity for other individuals or groups. Naturally, such a combination of real world scarcity and goal striving to overcome this scarcity intensifies the struggle of individuals and groups to cope with both their physical and social environments.
  • OODA loops is an acronym for Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action cycle or the Boyd cycle. Moving towards a changing goal requires flexible decision-making. As you move closer to it, the environment may present a new condition which calls for an altered course of action,i.e. improvisation. The fastest way to make an adjustment is by taking the ‘first best choice’ available. This is a binary act, that action is selected and all others are forgotten. This is often done by ‘instinct,’ an intuitive decision action. Bernstein’s Shifting Focus Heuristic for motor action involves an underlying, directed goal and the alternating movement between coordinating, (freezing/restricting/eliminating) and exploring, (loosening/ combining/searching) multiple Degrees of Freedom. The DoF can be the individual muscles and nerve cells, the velocity of several players during an interval in the game or the coordination of a league schedule on a Saturday afternoon. The Dof and SFH applies to any size system. From Boyd’s Destruction and Creation; “ There are two ways in which we can develop and manipulate mental concepts to represent observed reality: we can start from a comprehensive whole and break it down to its particulars, (analysis/coordination/insight/destruction) or we can start with the particulars and build towards a comprehensive whole. (synthesis/exploration/vision/creation) ” This process explains how goals and plans are created. Both models assume a preexisting goal and allow progress along the ‘flowing edge.’ The goal provides the target, the preferred future state; the threshold for motivation, goals are not all or none, they contain an element of cost/benefit or ROI; and the measure for feedback. Both models have a way to explore the environment, (internal/external) for resources, exploration/synthesis and to restrict the search, coordination/analysis when the resources have reached a ‘good enough’ level. (This is when directed action can take place.) Neither expansion nor contraction alone will achieve a goal. Expansion without contraction is a spasm or entropy and the reverse is locked up or paralysis by analysis. The balance between the two is determined by your relationship to your goal which is in a continuous state of change. Whack a mole analogy. Like soccer, you play by developing a search, find and act strategy that has to alternate between expanding and contracting the search and the action fields.
  • The person, system or organization assumes responsibility for their own learning. While formalized instruction maybe a part of their background they feel free to explore any and all outside resources. The learning has to be grounded in reality. It must be practical, pragmatic and have a goal . Movement towards the goal can influence the environment or handle its perturbations. Idle day dreaming does not apply. The person, system or organization works with whatever is available at the moment. They can ‘make-do,’ are adaptable, flexible and innovative. They are less likely to suffer from a bias in problem solving, engage in an extended search or deliberation. Because of this they are well placed to deal with unforeseen problems including those they have little or no experience with. “ Scalable” learning is not limited to individual effort, talent, opportunity even presence, “It is not subject to gravity,” (borrowed from Nassim Taleb.) In a group or system one persons qualities and experience is available to any others. People collaborate as a way of problem solving. This way the resources available are synergistic as any player can benefit from any other players improvement. Didactic learning implies a hierarchy of teacher-student, coach-player, expert-novice and the flow of information is from the former to the later. It is asymmetrical, formalized, top-down instruction and based on a doctrine. The flow of information is more ‘push’ as the content, pace and methods are dictated by the teacher-coach-expert. In an autodidactic model the flow may still be in the same direction but there’s freedom for the student-player-novice to search outside of ‘authority.’ Even abandon authority altogether. The content, pace and methods can change as well because the demand is now based on ‘pull.’ The student-player-novice is free to use the teacher-coach-expert as a resource if they like . The strict hierarchy that constrains both sides is loosened. The teacher-coach-expert does not have to carry the burden of “all-knowing center of gravity” and the student-player-novice can access domains and concepts outside of the immediate resource structure. Caution: this does NOT mean that the coach removes him or herself as well as all constraints and hopes that these ‘free-range’ players will magically improve. There is the problem of shared goals, teamwork and the value of expertise that has to be addressed. This can only be accomplished when a larger system is involved and the presence of an authority figure provides this piece. This aspect was addressed in slide 12. “ If there’s someone here and now who is better placed to do the specific task than me, let them do it.” Example, the coach decides who will take a penalty maybe overruled by the players. Over reliance on the ‘individual first’ leaves you open to the trap of Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety. Since no one can know it all or do it all the first step is to figure out who is best placed, has at least some knowledge and is in a position to get the job done. Global problems often need local solutions.
  • Lave and Wenger; “ Learning is a social process that occurs  where there is a collective endeavour or practice as part of a community. Knowledge is co-constructed rather than being transferred from one individual to another in an abstract or out of context setting e.g. a classroom. We may be involved in communities of practice that are everywhere including work, school, home or leisure interests.” Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi , "The role of the educator is to teach children, not subjects.“ "I wish to wrest education from the outworn order of doddering old teaching hacks as well as from the new-fangled order of cheap, artificial teaching tricks, and entrust it to the eternal powers of nature herself.” ”Experience the thing before they tried to give it a name.” John Dewey, “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” ” Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another. ” Aristotle, “ The things we have to learn before we do them, we learn by doing them.” Lord Philip Dormer Stanhope Chesterfield, “The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in a closet.” Activity; The Mary Problem. Experiential learning begins with the assumption that people are not ‘blank slates’ before the instructor but offer a wide range of talents, skills, qualities and experience. When combined in a group that has a task set before it these talents, skills, qualities and experience offer a valuable starting point. Their potential combination is staggering. This counters the easy-first, hard-later approach with it’s reverse. Instructors don’t assume what students know or don’t know. They find out first. George Patton, “ Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” “If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you'll be amazed at the results.” #George Patton, “Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable” and William Duggan’s Strategic Intuition .
  • Experiential learning reverses the easy-hard approach in education. A basic assumption is that the players already have access to a wide range of talents, qualities and abilities. If presented with a problem they can audit their collective pool of resources and possibly "bricoleur" a solution. That means, as a system they must reflect on their combined strengths and weaknesses in the context of the task and how to go about achieving it. All they need to start is what are the teams, limits of the playing area, how to score and any special constraints. The coach uses soccer’s general constraints, slide 4, to create the specific goal for the system. They do not need to know what the coaches intent is. That is something they can figure out for themselves by experiencing the game. (There’s no need to start with a theoretical lecture.) Learning is a permanent change in behavior but not a carbon copy of past experience. Learning shows up in three interrelated ways, acquisition, retention and transfer. Systems learning requires players to transfer the value of their personal experience to others. The more experience they have retained the greater the wealth of ideas available for transfer. However, this is all dependent on the harmonious relationship and trust between the players. In the words of Elvis, “we can’t go on together with suspicious minds.” An autodidactic state is difficult to maintain. It requires a lot of self-starting and self-monitored work. In today’s culture players, especially youth players are brought up in a didactic model. They are vessels getting filled and come to expect direction and external motivation. The coach may have to first put energy into the system, ‘prime the pump’ to get it going. This may not be the case on the allopoietic end where players will usually follow orders but most likely on the autopoietic end. Reflection, self-awareness is hard when life constantly moves you from one thing to another. This is especially true when you have a ‘group session.’ This will be addressed in the next slide. The key is, once the players that makes up the system is moving along on their own and in the context of the meta-question, leave them alone .
  • If you want learning to be meaningful than there must be a balance between consequence and reward. This distinction should be internal, that is inside the game. Rewards like parental approval or trophies are outside the game. It should be emotional, metal and physical. Experiential learning in soccer, learning through experience includes all three. You know it, you work for it and you feel it. Making competition a center point will meet this criteria. Competition helps to focus attention and provides immediate, unbiased feedback how well you did. This does not mean that you go all of all of the time. You can find meaningful moments to apply the coordination aspect of Bernstein’s model in a sea of exploration. For example, a golfer may decide to try a different grip even though he or she knows it will add strokes to their game. In this case, exploration was the target and coordination has to take a back seat. Short term gains are set aside for long term growth. Since soccer can compress time it creates stress. Managing thinking and stress can be developed in this model. The coach can frame specific questions to a player or players and look for an ‘answer’ within seconds. THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT, especially with kids raised in the didactic model. For example; assume the kids all know the reasons why goals are scored, that’s intellectual. In a SSG a goal is conceded, The coach asks one player “Why” and they have to respond in 15 seconds. Or the coach asks the group and they have to do the same. In the former, one player is ‘on the spot’ while in the later the group first needs to find a ‘spokesperson.’ You can get a sense of who’s paying attention and how confident they are. This helps build leadership and self-confidence under pressure. But before you try this the players have to understand the reason and trust the group. Consider this, how often have you seen teams lose an initiative because leadership at the local level was lacking? People need to step up quickly and at the right time and take charge. This is in keeping with George Patton’s “ A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week” point of view. See Donald Vandergriff’s Raising the Bar and the Adaptive Course Module for detaied examples. That you reflect on the past and learn from it is obvious. That you can use the knowledge gained from that reflection going forward is also obvious. Back to point 2 above. During games, when everyone is concerned with a task, allopoiesis, there are opportunities to pause and reflect, autopoiesis. These moments may not be right for everyone but they have to be made available for certain ones. A team needs leaders on the field, Michels “key players” who take greater responsibility. If all these players are ‘line workers in a factory’ than at the end of the game they’re no smarter then they were at the beginning. They will be the main targets and beneficiaries of the work done in 2. They can find the few seconds when the ball is out of play to stop, reflect and grow to meet the evolving situations in the game. And what should they be reflecting on? Why goals are scored and 4 below. Reflection on the task, scoring or preventing goals can be further framed in some form of the six W’s. Assume a player has just taken a mental snap shot of the field. The following is an outline of even more specific constraints on why goals are scored. # Who is involved? Friend or foe, resource, constraint or problem? What is going on? What are the dynamics of this picture? How will it play out? Is there danger, opportunity or just wait? Why should I be concerned? This is the point of view of the self in the context of the match, slide 10. What role can or do I want to play in the unfolding scene? The balance between self-interest and the collective. Where is all this taking place? Proximity matters. In the words of Steve Forbert, “Nothing really matters ‘till it’s closer than the house next door.” When do I need to make a decision and start an action? Timing and tempo. Ho w will I go about doing this? The technical details. Note that W’s 1, 2 & 3 are higher level strategic concerns. They frame 4, 5 & 6. W’s 4 & 5 are tactical concerns, where should I be and when should I get there. (This “I” can be a system. Two central defenders working together as one.) These frame how a player goes about accomplishing his or her task, number 6. The final W is the technical side. The “how to” answers. # The flow between these questions is symmetrical, it can go either way, start anywhere, loop back or jump around in any order at any time. There is no ‘checklist or hierarchy’ as any one can become the major framing or constraining factor. (Think of a players conceptual orientation.) In many situations players don’t have the time to go through even two or three questions before they have to act. The game thrives on players who can function with an incomplete understanding and still make a contribution. Finally, in a general way, higher level questions, (lower number) frame lower level questions (higher number) while lower level questions constrain higher level ones. They are completely interrelated.
  • A constraints led autodidactic model for soccer

    1. 1. A constraints-led,autodidactic model for soccer-Pt.11 See attached notes. Created August 2011, by Larry Paul 1
    2. 2. What is a constraint1?- The state of being checked, restricted, orcompelled to avoid or perform some action.- Limitation or restriction2.- Repression of natural feelings and impulses.Wishing, hope, luck and magic suspend constraints3. 2
    3. 3. Games are constrained- Since the game of soccer revolves around playersand their actions it is constrained by the laws andprinciples of physics1.- A working definition of physics is ‘the study ofmatter, energy, and the interaction between them.’ 3
    4. 4. Soccer’s general constraints1The physical elements of the game;- Matter2; players, the field and equipment.- Energy3 & interaction4; goals1* and soccerrules5. 4
    5. 5. Soccer’s specific constraints Scoring and preventing goals, why we’re hereOnce the general constraints are in place the mostimportant specific ones are why are goals scored? Thequestion and answer is the frame for this model1: - It will concern both sides of the ball, it’s dialecticalin nature, it involves all players at all times2.- It serves both a prescriptive and descriptive function3.- It is a global concern with local implications4.- The question and answers are relevant, specific andof a complex nature5. 5
    6. 6. Why are goals scored?* The detailsThere are five reasons#:2. Lack of pressure on the player in possession.3. Lack of support for the pressing player.4. Giving the ball away.5. Failure to track players down.6. Restarts.* Taken from Charles Hughes, Tactics and Teamwork. 6
    7. 7. Soccer is constrained by systems1“System means a configuration of parts connected andjoined together by a web of relationships.” Thereforethe study of systems is “the study of parts/matter,joined/energy, and the web of relationships/interactionbetween them.” Physics is at the heart of systems.To understand soccer you must include the basicprinciples of systems. Start with the constraints2.Some constraints are permanent, global and ongoing,i.e. rules are rules3.Some constraints are temporary or weak, these localrules are made to be broken4. 7
    8. 8. Systems are constrained by boundaries Kurt Gödel & Nikolai Bernstein1 What system is on display here2? How did you assemble it3? How do the parts interact4? 8
    9. 9. Players and systems1 Boundaries in flux1. When players interact they create systems. They go from whole to part.2. Players and systems are surrounded by other players and systems.3. Players and systems will interact with these others creating the possibility of an infinite regress or expansion.4. The level, focus and direction of interaction cannot be predicted.5. The boundaries between players and systems cannot be defined in itself. Player’s are part of larger systems they’re not aware of. This is the “Catch 22” principle. 9
    10. 10. Self-constrained systems Niklas Luhmann & Nikolai BernsteinAt the center of every system is the ‘self’s’1 point of view. Thetension between the individual and the others is balanced along a‘flowing edge’2. 10
    11. 11. Setting goals along the ‘flowing edge’ Outside the edge is chaos The creation and movement towards a goal sets up a dynamic relationship between players, the goal and action1. To keep system cohesion a shared orientation, i.e. a flexible frame is necessary. Why goals are scored provides this framing2. 11
    12. 12. Goal creation and achievement Task and maintenance systems 1. Autopoietic systems; concerned with maintenance. 2. Allopoietic systems; concerned with task completion. 3. Zone for learning, growth & action; harmonized middle. 4. Meta-question; frames the process. 5. Meta-system; guides the process.A model for theguided-(constrained)discovery method. 12
    13. 13. Dialectical approach to goals Bernstein & BoydWith goals in flux you need a way to rapidly changecourse, i.e. OODA loops1.Bernstein’s Shifting Focus Heuristic2.Boyd’s Analysis and Synthesis3.Both models contain an overriding goal and a way toexpand from and contract towards it4. 13
    14. 14. What is an autodidact? Pathways to learning- A self-taught person, entity, system or organization1.- Someone or something that demonstrates the ability toadapt to a change in his, her or it’s environment as they orit sees fit. They can be proactive as well as reactive2.- Demonstrates the traits of a bricoler3.- Autodidactic learning is “scalable” learning4.- The shift from didactic to autodidactic moves theconstraints on learning5. Outsourcing and collaboration isthe norm, individual effort is second6. 14
    15. 15. Experiential learning Learning is constrained“Experiential learning is the process of making meaningfrom direct experience… Experiential learning is learningthrough reflection on doing, which is often contrasted withrote or didactic learning.”This does not exclude the use of didactic methods like casestudies, historical examples#, dialectic conversation,storytelling or other methods to provide context to existingexperience. 15
    16. 16. Overview of the autodidactic model-1 Guided-(constrained) discovery in action1. Learning through discovery starts with experience framed in context, experience is constrained by a goal.2. The meta-system, i.e. coach provides the goal.3. Learning occurs when the system reflects on goal-directed behavior. There is a balance between task and maintenance.4. The coach works to maintain the system between the two states. The system must generate it’s own ‘energy.’ 16
    17. 17. Overview of the autodidactic model-2 Guided-(constrained) discovery in action- Experience is based on winning and losing.- Reflection is time constrained.- Reflection is both descriptive, past-tense/insight and builds prescriptive, future oriented/vision.- Reflection is based on the six W’s; who, what, why, where, when and how. 17
    18. 18. A constraints-led,autodidactic model for soccer-Pt.2What happens when multiple systems collide?Dealing with the furball.Signal theory.Tempo. 18