Become a master of decision making
In the last weeks, we’ve talked about individual tactics. We concluded that individual tactics consist of perception, decision, and execution. After this we wrote about perception, these articles can be read here, here, and here. The next subject of individual tactics is the decision.
Decision-making in football is talked about a lot. But we mainly talk about the decisions on the pitch, that directly influence the match, we call these operational decisions. But another important decision in football is strategical decisions, a strategic individual tactical decision is a decision you make long term, for example, a series of matches, a year, or maybe even a whole career.
Both types of decisions are important and have a major influence on the outcome of football matches and/or your career. Though we feel that there’s a much larger emphasis on operational-tactical decisions for individual football players than for strategic tactical decisions. In this article, we discuss how decisions form and what categories of decisions there are, and the link with individual tactics.
How do decisions form?
To know more about decision-making for individual tactics, we have to look at how decisions form. Decisions always form in your brain, in your brain there are two systems for decisions. The first one is the reactive system. This one is quick and intuitive, it makes decisions in a split second ‘without thinking’, we can say this is the automatic pilot. The second system is the reflective system. This system makes analytical, logical, and methodical decisions1. Research suggests that you use either one of them, you never use these two systems together.
Both systems are directed by different parts of the brain. The reactive system is more directed by the primitive parts of the brain, that relies on habits and emotions. While the reflective system relies more on the prefrontal cortex and relies more on logic, analysis, and methodologic. We tend to assume that it’s better to use the reflective system and think about situations. In a football match, it’s best to use the reactive system for individual tactical decisions, because there’s no time to analyze and think about all the different options and possibilities. You make an operational decision and take action in a split second. Outside of a football match when there’s no time limit it may be best to use the reflective system and analyze and use logic for your strategic individual tactical decisions.
What’s the role of Tactalyse in decision-making?
Often you hear that players make a decision based on an intuitive feeling, a ‘gut feeling’. What this means is that the decision is made unconscious and is made from the reactive system, an operation decision. This is where it gets interesting for individual tactics. Because if you’ve always done an individual tactic in a certain way because of how a situation is stored in your memory, you will always do it this way, because your brain will make the unconscious decision based on what’s stored in your memory. This is where Tactalyse helps a lot of players. With the help of video clips, Tactalyse lets players see their individual tactical decisions and question them if they’re right or wrong. This helps players to be more aware and conscious of individual tactics. It may be that some individual tactics are already done in the right way, but it also often happens that individual tactics are done in the wrong way. The first step in learning is to recognize the individual tactical situation and that you’re not competent at it. After that, you can start to look into how you have to improve. So at Tactalyse, we make players aware, so they can improve. This process that Tactalyse goes through with players can be separated into four stages of individual tactical decisions.
The four stages of individual tactics
As you can see there are four different stages of competence within individual tactics.
- Unconscious incompetence
The player does not know or understand how to do something and does not recognize that he’s doing it good or bad.
- Conscious incompetence
The player has recognized that he does not know or understand how to do something. This is the first step in the learning process. Making players aware so they can improve.
- Conscious competence
The player knows and/or understands how to do something. However, doing the individual tactic takes effort, the brain hasn’t stored it yet in the memory, so that the reactive system can use it on automatic pilot.
- Unconscious competence
The player has had so much practice with the individual tactics that it has become “second nature”. The skill is stored in the memory of the brain and can be executed on automatic pilot.
In short, this is how decisions are made in the brain and what stages of decision making there are for players within individual tactics. As you can see there is a lot to think about with making decisions and improving your individual tactical decisions. This is a process that takes time, you have to go through the four phases of decision-making to master an individual tactic.
Decision-making in football is talked about a lot. There are operational decisions and strategical decisions. Operational decisions are the decisions you make on the pitch and strategical decisions are decisions you make for a longer period. We have to know how decisions form to be able to make the right ones for individual tactics.
Decisions always form in your brain, in your brain there are two systems for decisions. The first one is the reactive system. This one is quick and intuitive, it makes decisions in a split second. The second system is the reflective system. This system makes analytical, logical, and methodological decisions2.
In a football match, it’s best to use the reactive system for individual tactical decisions because there’s no time to analyze and think about all the different options and possibilities. Outside of a football match when there’s no time limit it may be best to use the reflective system and analyze and use logic for your strategic individual tactical decisions.
In individual tactics, players often make decisions based on their gut feeling. What this means is that they decide with their reactive system. This is interesting because then you decide in a split second from habits that are already known in your memory. It can be that this is done in the right way, but it’s also often done in the wrong way. With the help of video clips, Tactalyse lets players see their individual tactical decisions and question them if they’re right or wrong. Within this process, players go through four stages of decision making.
Loran is the tactical expert in sport and he is the founder and owner of Tactalyse.