Winning by Design

Scouting has been common in sports, particularly team sports, for decades and decades and decades - long before specialised 'scouts' and 'analysts' were employed.  Coaches with a pen and paper, or just a good visual memory, have been developing game plans and tactics based on opponent tendencies since coaching has existed (yes I know there are studies that show that human memory is fallible, but there are also studies showing computer predictions are fallible).

No matter how good a player is, they have tendencies.  At the highest levels of sport players' weaknesses are small, their strengths strong, but tendencies remain.  Having said that, there is a lot more to game plans than simply knowing what your opponent will do in certain specific situations.  You have to come up with a plan on how to exploit this information, constrained by the abilities of your team.

I read recently about a team who, after losing a 2nd match to an 'inferior' opponent, bemoaned the fact that, if they even played at 80% of their ability, they would win.  They went on to talk about how the other team didn't hit hard, or serve hard, but that their team wasn't able to take advantage of that.  This got me thinking about Game Plans.

All coaches and players have had times where they don't feel like they're playing badly, just that things aren't quite going their way.  They have also had times where they knew very well they were playing badly and that was why things were not going their way.  But what is it about when you know you are playing alright, but not winning.  Is that because the other team isn't letting you?

If a team has a great game plan, which it executes well, it will not stop good opponents dead.  They will not go from playing 10/10 to 2/10.  What will happen is that the things that they usually do, that are usually successful, will stop being quite that successful.  There will still be success, just not quite the same level of success.  Maybe, I don't know, 80% as much success as 'normal'.

(Photo Credit)

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