Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ted Dumitru’s address at SAFCA symposium on High Performance for International Excellence

In one of the most exciting and relevant presentations I have ever heard, the former Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chief coach straight away pointed out wrong and outdated training methods employed by coaches, explaining that all training methods produce results.

The question was the type of training offered and the fruits produced. The good football training preparation created positive effects that have the ability to alter the results. The culture of such effects was such that success realised was never transferable, meaning that what worked elsewhere is not necessarily going to be a hit at another place at another time.
Some methods of training are known to be detrimental. The higher the level of play, the higher the complexity and methodologies. More important to note, was the fact that high performance training for international excellence involved training the brain.

The football brain rules performance. Coaches needed to work on the brain as there is little benefit to do physical, technical and tactical work if brainpower is ignored. Knowledge of the game will teach one that the quantity aspect of training is not best.

Dwelling on the need to run more, kick more and work more steals from the quality aspect of training. As much as we may not have much football brain at our disposal, the work ethic of the modern game dictates that we stimulate the mind by increased variation, increase the defensive and offensive elements, allowing increased creativity and improvisation and most importantly, the variation of pace.
Ted emphasised that players can play as far as they could think. All his address reminded me of the article I wrote after I watched Zimbabwean football ( In the modern game, active distance between players is significantly reduced, ranging between 8 and 10 metres vertically and horizontally. That aspect demands quick quality decision-making. Players are exerted to increased pressures due to reduced space and time. The speed thought remained more relevant as the complexity of the game went obviously high.
Players performed tasks concurrently, in quick succession and even simultaneously. These include but are not limited to decision-making, emotional balance, assessment of the football situation and commitment to support amongst others. This is the dynamic situation of the game, hence the need for dynamic training.
The highest complexity of the game is scoring goals. There are 27 factors and variables surrounding that function. Coaches therefore need to maximise the training content. One way to do that is the packaging all the aspects of football (physical, technical, tactical and mental) into one.
The decision must be made whether the coach wants to train the team or train the players. The question of whether players are performing to the best of their ability should be addressed as much as the players’ ability to manage their weaknesses. Coaches are responsible to fix this.  
The football brain motivation creates a mental environment to absorb training content. This can be achieved if everything in training is done with the ball or in relation to the ball, directly or indirectly. By taking static training out of the picture, full-scale football intensity should be utilised.  
Coaches should think of options and variations to allow for creativity, initiative and leadership. There must be consideration of the expenditure and recovery of energy on a regular basis as the rate of effort and recovery must be systematic.
In one very interesting point, Ted tore one everyday piece of equipment used nowadays; the flat cones and agility ladder. Such equipment forced players to keep their heads down. Players have to look at the opponents and even beyond them. Hurdles and cheap mannequins are the best at all times. These improve the 3-Dimensional vision perspective of the game and bring reality to the training session.
Amongst the many more issues brought up, the psychometric assessment of the football brain remained a priority. Players could be given scenarios to solve their problems. That exercise will  provide coaches with a clear idea of the personalities in the team.
Over a 160 coaches gave a round of applause for the eye-opening presentation session of the legend.