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Tactical Periodization

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Tactical periodization is a coaching methodology successfully utilized by Jose Mourinho. It is a coaching approach first thought of by Victor Frade (also Portuguese) but has now been fully integrated by Jose at Real Madrid and now Chelsea. The aim of the use of tactical periodization by the coach is really an attempt to bring clarity and predictability through specific preparation. This approach breaks soccer down into four moments in a game: attack, transitioning from attack to defense, defense, and transitioning from defense to attack. In each one of these moments of soccer, it is the coach's responsibility to provide clarity for how he wants his team to play. The principles (and sub-principles) that make up each moment are what is known as the coach's 'game model'... aka the holistic style of play. Every training session that you run as a coach must be geared toward one of these four moments. That is imperative. Thus, in each training session you are bringing out your game model and principles of play. As a coach it is your responsibility to reinforce your main principles of play every time you train. Through repetition and reinforcement, these principles of play (game model) will become habits to your players and second nature. Once habits have been sustained for a sustainable period of time it becomes very exciting to a coach because a team's identity has now emerged.

An example of how this breaks down is this... Moment 2: Transition from attack to defend. One main principle in this moment is to put immediate pressure on the opponent who now has the ball for them. The nearest defender is the immediate pressure. Then the sub-principle to this if cannot win it in first 5 seconds, and then force the opposition to play backwards.

Again, the ultimate goal of tactical periodization is too continually reinforce your principles as a coach by bringing them out in a specific moment in a training session. Every drill has to simulate one of the moments in soccer, so that when you train you can closely as possible replicate a game scenario. If you can’t bring something out in a game that you work on in training, then what is the point really? As Jose said, "Training is worth it only when it lets you make your ideas and principles operational".


I am a youth and college soccer coach who is passionate about making coaching my career and helping assist players in their development. I am always trying to learn from the game and always willing to share with others the insights I have made from the game. If you have coaching tips or materials you would like to share, just contact me.

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