How does this lead to more efficient training

Mason wants Vince and the team to understand what the performance problem is.

But first, let’s understand how tactical periodisation and models make training more efficient.

Mason: The game model allows us to represent the performance problems from the game in a way that is recognisable.

While we can use “our” language of a performance problem, it’s what the players see, sense and feel at that moment in the game that matters.

If we can represent that problem in training then it will transfer into the game.

Vince: Does that mean every single player needs to know exactly why we are doing everything?

Mason: Well, at international level, that would be the ideal, but let’s be practical. There are three types of knowledge that the players will have, but they do need some knowledge.

Here are three levels of knowledge:

  1. Players do what they see others do, but do not know why.
  2. Players know how to do it, but not why.
  3. Players know how, why and when.


A good example here might be a classic first phase strike move – like the dummy switch pop.

A level 1 player has watched the move and knows who should run where, but might only know one variation (this guy calls a move and runs it the same way every time).

A level 2 player knows all the passing options and where the potential holes might appear. This player calls one of three variations on the same move.

A level 3 player can describe the performance problem that the move creates for defenders and the choices that they have to make in order to cover the different attack options. This is how he reads the defender reactions and chooses the right pass option to put an attacker in space. This guy calls a move and keeps all three options in play, and chooses the best option based on the defence.

It’s like having a cook and a chef. The cook follows the recipe, the chef knows why the recipe works and is able to adjust given the circumstances.

Let’s get all the players up to cook status and create as many chefs as we can.

But don’t too many chefs spoil the brew?

Not if they have a shared game model.

As long as everyone knows their roles and responsibilities and their positional requirements. For example, the lead chef (fly half), deputy chef, station chef and junior chef, all depending on the performance problem.

Each session needs to think along these lines to help learning, either as individuals or as a team:

  1. Deficit = slower, easier, less complex than the game.
  2. Matched = similar to game demands.
  3. Surplus = faster/more chaotic than the game – if you can get things right in this situation you can do it anywhere.

For example, if you have a go-to move from the previous season that works most of the time, then you are in surplus mode.

If you have worked out a solution to a performance problem and are looking at it for the first time, then it is clearly in deficit mode.

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