The cult of unpredictability


 Since I am living in The Netherlands it was interesting and important to realize (specially having in mind other countries that I know well like Portugal or Spain) a fascinating sociocultural characteristic: a high level of “aversion to uncertainty”.

The “aversion to uncertainty” is visible and manifests clearly in some characteristics of the Dutch society:  A high ability of planning, structural/organizational mindset applied to all areas and a strict discipline to meet deadlines and engagements, formal or informal.

This mentality turns Holland into a very dynamic country in economic terms, but on the other hand this sort of country with “aversion to uncertainty” doesn’t like to take risks and people prefer the safety of their routine which reflects on the way people connect to each other and behave when practicing sports.

In countries where the organizational culture is not so strict, where plan A doesn’t always win, society is compelled to develop a higher adaptation or improvisation ability in order to be more resourceful.

This way in these societies like in sport, the cult of unpredictability is a reality and people in general as well as athletes grow with the idea that improvisation and instinct are indispensable tools to succeed.

As a coach it is my belief that a team will always have higher chances of being succeeded if individuals are ready to respect the guidelines and indispensable routines in order to obtain a structure in the game but especially if each player expresses himself at the top of his individual potential. That’s why it’s so important:

1. Greater player involvement (in a oriented and sustainable way) in coaching in order to find a platform from which the player becomes more critical, wiser, more aware, more coach-like and that way more able to take suitable decisions during games.

2. Encourage a training and game culture that stimulates instinctive and creative individual development based on the reaction/adjustment to unpredictable events.

Some strategies that can reinforce auto critic, team and individual responsibility, understanding of certain game notions and training methodology (with supervision and follow up):

– Delegate planning responsibility and training execution on the athletes;

a) After the game – correction/feedback

b) Before the game – preparation/planning/strategies

– To decrease my intervention during games-training

a) To assign the ability of correction among players

b) Stimulate team talk, coaching and feedback among players

– Delegate the entire responsibility in deciding game strategies on the athletes:

a) Ex: If team X defends short corners in a certain way what are the best attack strategies?

– Prepare multi-leveled and multi-optional exercises

Bernardo Fernandes

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