Team tactics versus individual tactics
The definition of tactics in the dictionary is “an action or strategy which is carefully planned to achieve a specific end”. In football, when we talk about tactics we usually talk about how a team plays in a game. Well-known examples of team tactics are tiki-taka, gegenpressing, parking the bus, catenaccio, or kick and rush.
Sometimes we talk about different tactics on each ‘part’ of the team. Think about different tactics for defenders, midfielders, and attackers. Bayern Munchen for example plays with a high defensive line.
But a part of the team can have a different tactic as well, for example, the collaboration between the right full-back and the right-winger. A much-seen collaboration is when the right-winger is going inside and the full-back positions himself outside and does an overlap.
Why don’t we talk about individual tactics?
But rarely do we talk about individual tactics for players. The only time we talk about individual tactics is when a player is very good or very bad at a certain game situation. Think about Neymar his 1v1 dribbling skills, that’s an individual tactic that we talk about a lot, and rightfully so, fantastic dribbles that often make it into the highlights.
But if we look at the statistics of Neymar in the 2020/2021 season: 14.09 dribbles per game with a success rate of 48,9%, we notice two things. The first thing is that just under 50% of his dribbles succeed. So even if he’s one of the best dribblers in the world already. There’s still room for improvement. The second is that Neymar on average makes one dribble every 6-7 minutes a game. So in between these minutes, he’s involved in a lot of other situations that possibly influence the game result.
If we look at it from a coaching perspective wouldn’t it be interesting to look at all 1v1 dribbles of a player and look at when he succeeds and when he fails? To go even deeper, wouldn’t it be interesting to look at all football situations a player is involved in in a football game.
Nowadays every decision can have a big impact on a game. Because a lot of games are decided with one situation. So even though you play football as a team with 11 players, it’s often one or two players that have a big influence on the result of a game. That’s why we think that we should talk about individual tactics just as much as about team tactics. If you make every single player individually better, then ultimately the team will be better as well. But are we putting as much effort into making players individually better?
What are individual tactics
When analyzing individual tactics for a player, we look at the behavior of a player. Often we only look at the execution in a situation. Did the pass succeed or not? But we found that to successfully analyze individual tactics for a player you have to look at it in three steps:
Is the player aware of the situation? Does he have all the possible information around him to make the correct decision?
Based on the information the player has, he makes a decision in a situation. After he made the decision, he executes it.
After perceiving the situation and deciding on what to do with this information. The player executes his decision.
The definition of tactics in the dictionary is “an action or strategy which is carefully planned to achieve a specific end”. In football there are three levels of tactics:
- Team tactics
- Part of the team, like a line of players or a collaboration between players
- Individual tactics
Team tactics focus on something the whole team has to do. For example, park the bus or tiki-taka. Part of the team tactics focuses on something the defenders have to do or a collaboration between players, for example, the right full-back and the right-winger. Individual tactics focus on players individually in game situations.
We identified that to look at individual tactics, we have to look at three different steps in every game situation:
- Perception – The information the player collected.
- Decision – What the player decides to do with this information.
- Execution – How the player executes the decision.
Loran is the tactical expert in sport and he is the founder and owner of Tactalyse.