Back in November of 2023, I applied to the 5th edition of the Masters in Tactical Periodization by Vitor Frade. A few weeks later I was interviewed and accepted into the cohort. We started in February of 2024, and it has been a great journey so far. The most impactful insights have been the importance we must attribute to thoroughly understanding our context, the complex systems within the game of football, and the meaning of culture within the model and structure we are seeking to create. 

It has become a fun game where I like to ask peers, co-workers, and friends what they think culture means. It is truly challenging yet very insightful to try and define a term in your own words and knowledge. I refer to it as a game because everyone starts laughing the moment I ask the question! So, it must be a game, right? I feel as though we throw the “culture” word around every year, and we do team bonding activities, and we come up with words, north stars, guiding lights, etc. This process is great, don’t get me wrong, but my question is: have we truly delved deep enough to understand what our current culture is to establish what we would want it to look like? Do we understand our country, our city, our people, our market, our players, and staff – both international and domestic? That is where it all starts. It is a process where we need to understand and feel our surroundings before we start operating in it. 

The next major aspect that stands out in Professor Vitor Frade’s methodology is the holistic yet complex approach we should consider when training our players. I say complex as it is very complex such are most things in life, yet I love the importance he places on the simple things, the simple basics we should always have in mind. To understand our context is to understand football within that context: how the Brazilians, the Germans, and the Japanese all approach football differently, for example. People In these countries also have very different physical attributes yet they are all as successful in producing great football and players! So, is there a specific recipe? Not necessarily! Professor Frade’s methodology guides us in making sure all major components are considered in unison instead of compartmentalizing things as we have done for so long. 

For example, the physical foundation of the training plan has dominated our process for years in many sports and most recently, we started to incorporate the “psychological,” or cognitive planning, which aims to help us balance how much we are “loading” our players mentally. We also have the technical/tactical planning which should be the leading element of periodization if we are trying to win games and championships, shouldn’t it? Football should be at the center of the conversation, right? So, the question is: how do we bring all these elements together and create a cohesive methodology that fits within our context and addresses all the parameters we aim to bring to life in our team and play? I am learning how to see the game through a different lens which starts with a bird’s eye view and zooms in through all of football’s complexities to give life to a thorough and comprehensive approach founded on our clubs’ beliefs and identity. 

I am super excited for this journey, and, only three months in, I highly recommend it to any coach and performance professionals that want to dive deeper in our approach of football planning and training. 

Stay tuned – more to come as I share my thoughts through this journey!