top of page

Tactical Periodization by Vitor Frade

This book was authored by Jorge Reis.

Jorge Reis has written a comprehensive book on the theoretical underpinnings of Tactical Periodization developed by Vitor Frade. Below is a summary of key points from the book. This book will change the way you view soccer training by challenging commonly helped assumptions and offering a holistic perspective that respects the totality of the game. Complexity

“Complexity implies unpredictability.” Soccer training must acknowledge the chaotic qualities of the game. Soccer is complex and thus requires a complex teaching methodology. Unbreakable Wholeness Tactical Periodization is about the unbreakable wholeness.” The coach needs to respect the ‘unbreakable wholeness’ of the game. Coaches need to use training models that are not fragmented but reflect the complexity of human nature and train the player as a whole person. The body is an integrated and intelligent entity. Coaches should not divide what is indivisible but train the physical, tactical, technical, and psychological together—respecting the unbreakable wholeness of the player. Because we play with the whole body, we need to train with the whole body which includes the multiplicity of mechanisms that shape the human being.

Plasticity & Adaptability "Plasticity lies between the emergence and the annihilation of form.” Humans have an extraordinary ability to adjust and adapt to situations. The human organism modifies itself according to specific intentions and purposes. Training is meant to prepare the body for future tasks. The diversity of possible adaptations is incalculable since life is a constant self-renewing, dynamic, and plastic reality. Our neurotransmitters have differentiated responses and are adjustable, shapeable, and adaptable. Even the muscle is acquisitive, moldable, and has a memory that helps make us plastic beings. The muscle as an organ of the senses and feelings is part of the sixth sense--the sense of movement. The body is like shoes, which record the paths you walk. Epigenetics “Epigenetics is the transmission of the phenotype determined by the transactional activity of genes by non-genetic mechanisms.” Genes are not self-emergent and do not turn on and off by themselves. When the product of a gene is needed, a signal from the environment activates it since signals from the environment control the activity of genes. Player development is the result of interactions of the muscles to the brain and from the brain back to the muscles and the surroundings, in a continuous feedback carousel. Epigenesis involves regression and progression, repetition and exploration, recapitulation, and invention as the process is nonlinear. The goal is maximum redundancy with maximum variability.

Specificity and the Primacy of Tactics “Football playing is a thought phenomenon since where the mind is, the body is also.” The game is chaos but this chaos has the potential for organization. Tactics are considered the central idea that structures playing soccer, and it creates the team’s identity. The development of a game model, which is a set of tactical regularities, must be born first in the head of the players through the experience and realization of ideas in practice. The creation of a mental landscape of play will enable the creation of neural patterns in players’ minds. Tactics are an internalized organization where players are free to act, without acting freely. As Mourinho stated, “There must be 100% order in order to be disorderly. The more organized the team the more successful.

There is a transcendental tactical dimension that underlies everything that happens in a game, which is specificity. Human adaptations are specific, that is, we carry out what is at stake. So, if we run around the piano, we become better piano runners. The coach creates specific training experiences according to how he wants his team to play based on situations that appear most during the game. Players gain ‘know-how’ through the acquisition of knowledge so they can solve game problems. By reinforcing the specificity of tactics in training, each team will be able to play according to certain values and game principles. Training requires an intentional training process to solve tactical problems. The training process is not restricted to the exercise of muscles but must also focus on getting the brain used to command the body. The team’s game model is the result of the physical internalization of values and principles which only occurs if training is conducted at maximum relative intensity. Tactical learning establishes an organizational culture, a code of values, and a posture, that identifies and regulates the interactions of the team’s playing system. Tactics are the supra-dimension that impacts all aspects of training. That is why we call it tactical-technical, tactical-physical, tactical-strategic, and tactical-psychological because it is the tactical approach of the coach that dictates the technical, strategic, and psychological requirements. Players need constant decision-making concentration in training to increase their ability to stay focused on the team’s tactics during the game to anticipate, adjust, and resolve game situations. Training must include interaction with other players within game-like spaces and timeframes so the ‘whole player’ is involved in seeking solutions to tactical problems. Principles The game idea defines the invariant principles.” Tactics should be trained through the systematic repetition of game principles and not through mechanical exercises. Principles allow the game model to be nuanced so players can better respond to the different patterns of problems they face in games. As coaches, we design non-mechanical exercises to develop non-mechanical players. Players should learn principles connected to certain positions and playing functions. Tactical training should be geared toward the acquisition of principles and subprinciples down to the smallest detail which allows the game model to emerge as a form with different forms. The integration of game principles will make the team’s play more efficient. Gestalt Perceptual Images Imagination plays the role of medium between understanding and intuition. At the epicenter are born a series of images that guide the transcendental to the object.” The natural environment is paradoxically easier to analyze than certain artificial environments because it contains forms—gestalts that are immediately recognizable. The redundancy in the environment creates identifying patterns that allow one to make predictions, comparisons, and decisions. These gestalt images explain the deep links between perception and action which provide the formation of shortcuts for players to manage the complexity of the game. The brain is designed to construct a template to understand these patterns, and it resists the adoption of standards that have no inherent meaning and are imposed. Neural space is the most expensive property of the human body and is only built when required. Therefore, to ensure that the brain maintains the necessary synaptic connections, an elaborate association between the information and the representational patterns is required to ensure its significance. The brain develops better patterns of thought and lasting mental images when in contact with practical reality. It is in game-like situations that players can recognize patterns of play which promotes the transfer and organization of knowledge into mental images. It is in the ongoing experience of the learning process and not haphazard exposures that promote the growth of new neurons. The need for concentration is vital. Learning can preserve new neurons from one to two weeks after the appearance of these new cells and without ongoing stimulation, new neurons do not survive. According to the type of disruption the team experiences in a game, the team’s playing system will become unstable, allowing the opportunity for another type of organization to arise. Therefore, a chaotic system like a game can be partially unpredictable, but globally stable as the team moves from one organizational form to another. The team’s system displays a constant fight between formation and destruction—a tension between constancy and creation. Training Approach “Train with the ingredients of the game, using fractals of the whole, reducing without impoverishing.” Training is the space par excellence to promote the creation of habits related to the ideas of a way of playing for the different moments of the game. The ideas of the game should be present in all aspects of training. While keeping all parts of the game intact coaches still need to perfect the smallest detail. Practice should entail the repetition of solving problems and not the repetition of the means of solving problems. Practice requires repetition without being repetitive, so players do not go into autopilot. The player must experience viscerally the principles of the game model by engaging in unique game-situational circumstances which allow habits to be acquired through action. The habit is a ‘know-how’ located in the unconscious domain acquired by repetition. Habits will include both the action of body segments, i.e., skills, and the actions of the body in relation to external events, i.e., tactics. Habitual responses are favorable when done with the least haste, at the best time, while leaving the player in a satisfactory post-response. It is beneficial to measure progress.


The morphocycle allows you to acquire the game in a practical way.” The morphocycle is the systematic repetition of training that guarantees the development of playing habits which leads to the adaptability of the players to the game. The pattern of the morphocycle structures the training process week to week. Morphological renewal creates stability without leading to the crystallization of actions with a specific focus on the systematic coordination of the functional load. When loads are too far apart or too close there is a decrease in performance. The players' training load needs careful consideration and much intuition.

Player adaptation to maximum force is most important since this load is the primary requirement of the game. Muscles are formed from fast and slow fibers. Tactical Periodization is a methodology that allows for the expression of a variety of game ideas with different metabolic patterns. Just continuous running, in contrast, creates negative physical adaptation since it does not support the specific requirements of the game leading to physical wear and tear from maladaptive coordination. This book summary was written by Michael Curless, Ph.D. 2023

93 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

Players Process Emotions Differently Although human personality is quite varied, there are only two ways to process emotions. The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung explained that emotions are driven in two

bottom of page