Training Session-Game | Concept assimilation

Sometimes people comment that coaches create complex systems, hard to assimilate. Thus, we can establish a debate, a sort of discussion between a player’s freedom within the game and the work inside a collective system. I think they are compatible and both must adapt to their own features. 

It’s curious that when preseasons begun everybody asks: “How is the season going?”, “Are the players assimilating the game concepts you want?”.

The progression valorization of each player in a game system has 3 stages:

1.The training session

It’s the everyday work, the one that usually fans don´t see.

Something really curious happens in the trainings. In the first days of preseason trainings, when we introduce new concepts little by little, almost every player react positively; after that, when the concepts are huddle together and the players must know when and where to use them, we can find a negative response. That’s when players get frustrated and can’t do either new or old things they’ve learned.

It’s also interesting to see that when it looks like we have a grim picture, there´s a moment after we have done it countless times and insist in it, the game patters come out naturally and spontaneously, without the need of thinking in every movement and how to play.

The reality tells us that each player has a different adjustment profile and that not every one of them can follow this path at the same time. Occasionally, there are even players that don’t walk this path.

At every step of this process, it’s the coach who needs to see the best in each player, reducing the adaptation time and managing to get the best productivity possible. That’s the most important job.

Helping the players reducing this stages is a methodologic art that shifts every year, in an attempt to make everything go faster and to be better assimilated. Some players are very slow to achieve that, others not so much. 

The player must not be subjugated to the game system and vice-versa. Everything has a positive side and the goal here is to find the common factors that can help the final product to be the best possible

2.Preseason matches

More competitive, these matches provide a better insight on how the team is adapting to the game. However, the official match competitive tension is still off the game. 

Usually we don’t prepare this matches just with the purpose of winning, but to check how the concepts were transmitted to the team and how each player is coping with those concepts.

There may be some surprise, where a player that apparently assimilates everything in the training session but on the game looks lost and do everything wrong. Players deal differently with the pressure and the responsibility of knowing what to do.

This is an important step for the players adaptation, as it’s not the same to attack against the teammates in a training session (they understand better what they’re going to do), then against other teams.

Therefore, this second stage is more important and allow us to make a more adjusted evaluation.

3.The official matches

One may say these are the matches that “places everyone in his right place”. We saw players training with excellence, with a great potential to go further, and yet, when the official competition started, they did everything wrong. Those players never succeeded.

This is the Handball reality, for better or for worse. Coaches´s day to day hard work is not valued, as the focus is on the competition’s results.

When we face crucial matches, fighting for scoring,  that’s when our “real Handball” shines. These great tension moments bring out for sure the “automatized” process in each player, in a way that either you correspond because it’s all very well interiorized or you don´t correspond at all, not applying any of the coach teachings.  It’s also in this moments that we can perceive the competitive character, trust and the quality of all the work assimilated in a spontaneous and easy way.

So, the only formula to assimilate the concepts of a system and improve is:

  • Being interested in improving
  • Putting all the necessary personal dedication and all the means available towards your goal
  • Believing that what you’ve been taught will improve you as a player
  • Working every day with the conviction that you can improve and learn something new
  • Developing all these aspects at the competitions with confidence, attitude and commitment

Finally, giving a meaning to the word “Team”, realizing that the collective is above the individual.