In many countries around the world, people are complaining about a lack of ‘creative’ players. As ‘creative’ is a very general term, we first have to define what people really try to say. People often use the word ‘creative’ when describing a player who comes up with a very good solution in a difficult football situation. In other words, this player is a very good decision maker. He sees opportunities that other players do not see or do not consider. Based on this clarification we can now answer the question of why so many people are complaining about a lack of outstanding decision makers on the pitch.
Where is the decision making component?
Traditionally, people use four pillars to analyze football in general and individual players in particular: technical, tactical, physical and mental. There are many errors in this traditional reference. First of all, as previously explained, the word ‘mental’ does not exist unless someone is referring to something outside the physical body. But let’s take an even closer look at this incorrect reference. Where is the pillar for decision making?
One word, two meanings?
A player who makes very good decisions is traditionally called a ‘tactically strong’ player. However, as previously explained, the word ‘tactics’ refers to how two or more players are working together based on (non-)verbal communication. In other words, tactics describes a process at team level. By calling a good decision maker a ‘tactically strong’ player the word ‘tactics’ now has two meanings. One moment it refers to how two or more players work together but the next moment it refers to the decision making of an individual player. I hope you understand we have a problem. Just imagine a pilot uses one word with two possible meanings. In that case, traffic control has to guess which of the two meanings the pilot is referring to. This will result in miscommunication and potential a plane crash. Therefore, in aviation, one word has one meaning and another word has another meaning.
Let’s apply a similarly high bar in football. One word, one meaning. The decision making of an individual player should no longer be put under the ‘tactical carpet’. Tactics refers to two or more players working together. And the decision making of an individual player is based on his game insight. Subsequently, a player’s decision making (game insight) is one of the components to describe football in general and football actions in particular.
Is this why decision making is underdeveloped?
The fact that the decision making of individual players was traditionally put under the ‘tactical carpet’ means that game insight was not considered to be one of the components of a football action just like tactics, technique and fitness. In football there are tactical teachers, technique coaches, fitness coaches but no ‘game insight coaches’. This is the logical consequence of game insight being absent in the traditional reference. Might this be one of the reasons why game insight, the decision making of individual players, is underdeveloped in many players? And could this explain why many people around the world are complaining about a lack of ‘creative’ players?
Maybe it’s just a self fulfilling prophecy because of an incorrect traditional football reference. Hopefully, with the help of the universal football reference, the decision making ability of individual players will improve significantly in the near future.