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The Magazine

Back to the Streets

How can play impact performance? PDP Lead Researcher & International Futsal player, James Vaughan examines how important play is when it comes to finding solutions in a high performance setting.

Last month New Zealand played against the Solomon Islands in the FIFA Futsal World Cup qualifiers in Fiji. Tied at the top of the table this game was the tournament decider, the game that determined Oceania's representative for the upcoming World Cup in Colombia. Four years of preparation and sacrifice on the line during 40 minutes of play.

The Solomon...

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  1. Matt D says:

    A key question may then be: How can we incorporate aspects of play & street football into our sessions?

    1. James Vaughan says:

      Great question! Overcoming traditional coach-athlete expectations and power dynamics may be a first step. In taking a player-centred or autonomy supportive approach we (coaches) think we can ask players what they want/need, however too often they simply tell us what they think we want to here. Is this a trust issue? Or simply conformity in controlling contexts? Are we creating a team of ‘yes coach’ players? How do we break down the power dynamic? What if the coach ‘played’ in some sessions? I suppose it would come down to what behaviours are perceived to embody playfulness? Which comes back to the culture. What are your thoughts MD?

  2. Matthew B says:

    James, a very thought-provoking article. First, I was curious how the researchers from the cited paper measured creativity? Second, might the coach be in a position to create a superior environment that distills the best elements of street play without some of the downsides? The downsides, which are seldom discussed, might include players deciding not to play any more because of ridicule or mistreatment by their peers, or maybe a lack of diversity in playing experience (slow-of-foot Bobby is always forced to play goalkeeper by his peers). But perhaps this “cauldron” of the street is part of what produces great players through a kind of Darwinian process?

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