Sunday, January 30, 2011


"Facilitate the transformation of information into a training reality"

Santos FC finished in first place after the first half of 2010 Brazilian competition. This success can be attributed to the individual talent of some of their young stars and the self-sufficiency of their coach, Dorival Júnior. Santos played a very offensive game, scoring 100 goals in this first half of the season and managed to win the São Paulo State Tournament 'Campeonato Paulista'. In addition to the magic brought by Robinho, Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso, the technical department was also strengthened by performance analyst Denis Iwamura’s two years ago. The former university and amateur athlete came over from Coritiba FC, where he was in charge of performance analysis for the youth teams as well as the first team. Denis assisted the conditioning and technical coaches with statistic match and training analyses.

At Santos FC Denis now assists the technical department and is specialized in sports technology mechanisms. He sizes up the technical and tactical variables and passes them on to the coach. Denis' main objective is to facilitate the transformation of information into a training reality and is doing so with good results.

"I was an amateur and university athlete. I started my physical education degree in 1998 and my former coach was working as a conditioning trainer at the Coritiba FC youth academy. He invited me to join the department as a trainee. I started as a nonremunerated trainee working with the U15s. In the 2000 I became a physical trainer to the U11s and U13s. A year later I was working as the primary conditioning coach for the U15s and another year later I was asked to move up to the first team, at that time coached by Róbson Gomes. I became part in the technical staff for the first team at Coritiba FC working as the conditioning trainer's assistant. Due to this previous experience with performance analysis in youth teams, I also got to assist the performance analysis department at the club. In 2006 and 2007 I became responsible for the department and continued to work as a conditioning trainer's assistant. In 2008, I switched to focus solely on performance analysis, an occupation I currently carry out at Santos FC."

"The scouting department at Coritiba started as a pilot project. We worked, me and Érielton Pacheco (Pachequinho), in a two-person team at that time. We were trying to standardize observation and catalog the competitions and players of the various divisions in professional Brazilian football (and its youth teams), generating a database of players including a complete map of their performance throughout their careers. This data served as the basis for the Board of Directors and technical department to assess players they were looking to recruit. Parallel to this work, we also helped out the technical department with the observation and analysis of the opponents the club would face in various competitions throughout the year."

"A performance analyst is a technical assistant that can also work directly in the field. I am specialized in sports technology mechanisms and use the technical and tactical variables to inform the coach about players and opponents. Denis' main objective is to facilitate the transformation of information into a training reality. My specific function is to translate the technical and tactical performance data, both individual and collective, of our team, throughout the season."

"We use several tools, including 'FootStats' (statistical mapping of the movements of each and every player in a game), video analysis, longitudinal follow-up of competitions and some indicators we established internally to evaluate the performance of our players. Also I am responsible, along with other technical assistants, to analyze the performance, both technically and tactically, of Santos FC's opponents. We have a team working on the observation of live games, an editing room where all games are recorded and, subsequently, we review all material that we collected."

Link between theory and practice
"The most important step is how we present the information to the coach and our players. We translate information to facilitate their understanding, giving priority to the quality of the information, and not the quantity. This information is then used by the coach, his assistants, the conditioning trainers, physiologists, directors and the press office. All of them seeking to achieve, as much as possible, a better integration between their areas, each respecting their own procedures and contributing to the development of the overall team performance."

Difficulty of implementation in Brazil
"Sports technology is still a bit frowned upon by Brazilian clubs. This is due to two main factors. First, the lack of willingness in Brazilian football culture to utilize these tools, which are very commonly used in the United States and Europe. Like in basketball, volleyball, and football. In Brazil, its applicability and results are often questioned, because of the high financial investment demanded in some cases. It is a cultural barrier that is slowly changing over the years. The second restricting factor is the lack of trained professionals who can work with these tools. We still do not have adequate courses for performance analysis. What we have are highly qualified professionals in technical and tactical areas and on the other hand qualified professionals in technology, but bridging these professions is required to take steps in training performance analysis professionals."

Coritiba FC, a school
"Coritiba FC was my 'University' of performance analysis. It was the place that gave me the opportunity to work and 'test' the various analytical tools and prove their effectiveness in the everyday life of a professional team. The club opened the door to the area of performance analysis and we were able to grow together over these years. In 2009, we had an editing room, trainees to collect data from scouts, various specialized trainers and our own scouting department."

Support found at Santos FC
"Santos FC is a club with a great working structure, and I was hired to organize their performance analysis department. The main difference with Coritiba is that at Santos we have a team of analysts working solely on opponent analysis. This promotes an exchange of information, which is an asset to the growth of the technical department. We are also including technological resources in our day-to-day work to ensure the exchange of quality information to our coach."

Amisco System: is it possible in Brazil?
Rafael Benítez works with the Amisco system, would a tool like this also be applicable for use in Brazil? "I know this tool. It is very efficient for performance analysis. In the way it is performed in Europe, I believe it is still financially unfeasible for the Brazilian clubs. At the time I was working at Coritiba FC, we contacted some companies about this system, but found that it is still to big of an investment for the Brazilian market. We are currently evaluating the opportunities for a system like this at Santos FC. We are looking for support from a company who is willing to invest in the technical materials needed to implement a system such as Amisco."

Staff cooperation
"At Santos FC we have a great integration and cooperation between the technical department and all other departments at the club. I need to give credit to the abilities of Dorival Júnior, Celso de Rezende and Ivan Izzo, who are all working together and making it possible for all staff members to perform their duties to the best of their ability. Celso is head of the physical department and he has worked closely together with Dorival for many years to come to a great cooperation between the physical and technical department. They know each other very well and have a great working relationship. The physical department also works closely together with the medical and the physiology departments. The medical department provides clinical assessment and recovery of all players. They are continuously at the disposal of the technical department during training and games. The physiology departments acts as a 'compass', always seeking to assess the real situation of the players in relation to the strain the endure during the season. The physiology staff members receives this information and, together with the coach, adjust volumes and intensities of each player's training program during the duration of the season."


"Every competitive team sport is dependant on a good defence"

"I believe that every competitive team sport, including football, is dependant on a good defence. Why? So the team can gain ball possession as soon as possible and organize the attacking play, which is the purpose of the modern football. In this context I always insist on defending further away from our own goal, so that in transition from opponent possession to possession my team is as near as possible to the opposition’s goal. In order to achieve this, I want my team to pressure the ball, as well as their nearest individual opponent. The basis for my approach is to prepare the team so that with our own mobility we manage to create a ‘surplus’ in transition from defence to offense and vice versa in transition from offense to defence. All this can only be achieved by methodical coaching, and insisting on shortening the time for reaction from the exact moment of gaining or loosing the ball possession."

System of play
"Combining my long coaching experience in different countries and cultures, whilst following all the modern football trends I used various tactical team positioning systems such as 4-2-4, 3-5-2, 3-4-3 and 4-4-2. I would say though that the 4-3-3- team positioning is most satisfactory to my own football philosophy. Of course, it must be stressed that the chosen system is always dependant on the choice of players available at any one moment. But I endeavour to search for and coach players that fit into my favourite 4-3-3- system."

Sunday: day after the game
- Morning training: a light ‘recuperation’ exercise for those who played yesterday
– easy ‘footing’ 22-26 minutes; stretching 10-12 minutes; football-tennis or some light technical-tactical exercise but not too intensive; massaging.
- A much higher intensity training for the group of players who did not play yesterday, usually including a two-goal match with six or seven players each side on a shortened pitch – with a variety of special tasks.

Monday: one training session and other activities
- Morning training: Joint training exercise, not too high intensity of some 60-75%. Various technical-tactical finishing exercises, with an accent on the high level of technical confidence and performance.
- Watching video footage of the last match and analysis of this. Stressing each positive, whilst negative criticism only overall. I would only discuss a specific critical point in a one-on-one with a player or a small group.

Tuesday: very important training day – 2 sessions
- 10.00: specific training 80-90 minutes, stressing on speed of movement and speed of reaction using technical and TETA exercise.
- 12.30: joint lunch for the team and coaches.
- 13:30-16:30: obligatory resting
- 17.00: high intensity training session, mostly through full pitch size play and with specific tasks – playing between two penalty areas, limited number of ball touches, playing the ball across the halfway line.

Wednesday: one training session
- Medium intensity training in groups: forwards and attacking midfielders form one group, whilst defenders and defensive midfielders are another.
- Automatic repetition of certain standard actions, which I insist upon during the play.
- Each group session last approximately 80-90 minutes with an obligatory massage afterwards.

Thursday: one or two training sessions (depending on player conditioning)
- Morning: if two sessions, morning will be light intensity 60 minute training. We will practice automatic movements and repetition in technical-tactical exercise.
Includes setplay training.
- Afternoon: higher intensity training, but not longer than 70 minutes. Always to
include a game of football on a shortened pitch.
o Tasks: one or two-touch play, normal goals play or 4 smaller (2 meter) goals without goal-keepers. These are important in achieving a quality horizontal movement of the team and the ball. Obligatory playing the ball ‘across the half-way line’ achieves better vertical movement of players with and without the ball
- When there is only one training session on this day, it will be the afternoon session – duration 90-100 minutes. This session would be a combination of technical-tactical exercises and the above described play.

Friday: day before the match; one training session
- Morning: During the week I would have already decided on my best team of eleven players for tomorrow’s match, so the task of this final training session is aimed at perfecting the tactical play for this particular match. First team will play an 11v11game against reserves.
Progression would be: passive resistance at first, and gradually increase resistance
throughout the game to full resistance.
Additionally we will refresh the setplays both offensively and defensively and the session will end with a stretching exercise. Total training time – 70 minutes, at medium intensity.
- Afterwards I will give a short presentation on the upcoming opponent and will demand full individual concentration; each player needs to ‘run a film’ in his mind about the match and every possible situation that can arise, depending on their position in the team and the individual characteristics of their direct opponents.

Saturday: the match day (if home game)
- Players arrive five-and-half hours before the start of the match. I will conduct a team meeting which will last 20-30 minutes. After the meeting we have a private lunch and then an obligatory rest of two hours. After this we go to the dressing room for individual preparation for the match.

Match preparation
"On day 1 I decide on the team system and tactics for the next match, so that all the coaching sessions during that week are adjusted to cater to the best performance and winning the next game. The system will not change much or often, as this may create confusion and lack of confidence with my own team. During the training sessions I always insure that players are fully prepared for the team positions they are playing. My job as a head-coach is also to prepare the team in such a way that the style of play is recognized as ours and is unique. I do consider the opposition, and will point out particular threat and individuals to my specific players – but in general I insist on the approach and philosophy: ‘Let us train, prepare and do all that is possible for the opponent to worry about us, and not the other way round!’

"My defensive part of the team needs to be particularly trained to act cohesively and
synchronized, not only when defending against opponent ball possession but also when our own team has the ball. For this reason I rarely give additional tasks to any individual in my defensive line-up, as this breaks the required cohesion. Whilst insisting on this team unity, I also make sure that the entire coaching staff act as a team (assistant coaches, medical/physiotherapist, back-room staff and others). In order for this to function, each member of the team and staff must know what is their role, what is expected of them as well as what they should not be doing or saying at a given time. At the beginning of each week I will give my team of assistants the week plan, including the match plan. Each assistant will be given instructions as to their role. We hold operative planning meetings for 60 minutes before each training session. Coaching assistants are briefed to give discreet information to our players about the next opponent, while also creating a positive atmosphere and confidence in the ability of our team."

Team psychology
"The positive mental strength of any team is based upon its technical-tactical qualities aided by sound physical preparation and creating higher overall performance standards. But ever so important is the psychological state of mind for each individual player and team as a whole. This is very much a result of the goals and demands you give them. Aiming unrealistically high brings an individual and the team into a state of apathy and even depression, thus resulting in instability and results below the capabilities. On the other hand, an objective as a task creates and immobilizes motivation and results in a stable and positive psychological state of
individual player and the team, which in turn aids with attaining good results, which in exceptional circumstances can even be above the realistic capability of the team."

‘An old proverb says: ‘Lucky is the one who has a thousand wishes, but common sense prevails them all!’