Monday, November 28, 2011

Selecting a soccer system in 11-player soccer

I have spent some time the last year helping out as a soccer coach.
As usual when I engage in any activity I like to delve deep into
the theoretical parts of the activity. My team has played 7-player
soccer this year and is now moving to the 11-player game on a full
soccer field.

So I spent some time analysing the various variants of 11-player soccer.
What I have found is that there really is only 3 players in the modern
soccer theory which has variable positions. The other 8 players are always
there. More or less all variants contain a goalkeeper, 3 defenders, 3 midfielders
(1 central and 2 side midfielders) and at least 1 forward. For a complete listing
of all used formations in classic and modern football see here.

The only exception is the 4-6-0 formation which is highly unusual, but was
used by Jose Mourinho in one of the games against Barcelona last year.

So this actually means that it is fairly easy to transform your play given
that all modern formations have so much in common. It also means that for
a coach like myself at a basic level for 12-15-year old boys one can use some
simple rules to select a system and can use some simple thoughts to adapt his
system according to the team that is on the other side of the field.

The remaining 3 players can be located as defenders, defensive central midfielders,
offensive central midfielder or as forwards. However placing all 3 as forwards
isn't really an option, the 3-3-4 isn't considered a modern formation although
it has been used historically.

So the question is how to wisely select to place the remaining 3 players.
How to place those players is really dependent on a number of things such
as the strength of the team, the types of players that one has at disposal.

Most of the successful teams with strong players add at least 1 more forward
in their formation. The most successful formation that doesn't use any extra
forward use 4-2-3-1, that requires however a team very strong in running and
an exceptionally good forward at the top.

On the level I coach it's good to have at least 2 forwards to have a better
offensive play. Personally I am also very fond of the offensive
central midfielder, this player makes it possible to come 3 players in a
triangle with the offensive midfielder holding the ball with 2 options to
pass in particular in quick turns of the game. If the offensive midfielder
is really good at dribbling it now becomes very hard to defend against these
3 players. This is the case even when the defensive is consisting of 4 defenders.
The offensive midfielder can choose to dribble if the defenders focus on cutting
off his passes and he can pass and create a 1-1 situation if 2 players focus
on stopping his dribbling.

In our first selection we placed the third player as a central defender which
meant that we played 4-4-2 with a diamond formation. Playing against a very
strong team this setup had some weaknesses. The main problem happens when
the side midfielders and the offensive midfielders is attacking and is slow
to return to defend. In this case the defense is formed as 4 defenders and
1 defensive central midfielder. This had the unfortunate cause that although
all defending players were strong players, it was very hard to stop the
offensive team from either doing deep passes or simply running very fast
through the defense.

So to handle this it is clear that another defensive midfielder is needed. In
our team we also have a few good players that fit this role very well, so
clearly this is appropriate for our team.

However the issue is of course, which of the 3 players (forward, offensive
midfielder and an extra central defender) to remove. If we remove the forward
we come up with a 4-4-1-1 formation which in our case would not provide
sufficient attacking force to score sufficient amount of goals. If I remove
the offensive central midfielder I come up with the 4-4-2 system which is very
commonly used on this level in soccer. However this also removes a strong attacking
force and requires very stronger scorer. So the remaining
position to remove is the extra central midfielder. This is clearly an unusual
move, but it will create a more balanced 3-2 formation in quick turns of the
game when the other team attacks us and the side midfielders, offensive central
midfielder and the forwards still haven't made it back to the defense yet.
This formation is called 3-4-1-2 and is used by a number of italian teams.

Although this is clearly a more unusual set-up in Sweden where my team plays
we have found it an interesting formation to try. The reason is that in our team
we have quite a few players that run fast and can take care of the side
defender position and side midfielder position. These players became essential
in this formation since the formation relies on that these players can move
quickly back and forth on the field. I also have strong defensive and offensive
central midfielders. Also strong defenders. However to score our team requires a
team effort for it to happen. So by building my attack play on achieving formations
that are difficult to defend against and by creating numerical advantages on
midfield I can achieve goal scoring through a strong team effort. Many teams rely
on one or a few strong goal scorers and in our case we rather focus on making goals
a team effort.

To make a goals as a team effort requires a proper build-up play through many short and
a number of medium long passes. So we want to maintain ball possession.
So our system of play is targeted towards ball possession in the same manner
as Barcelona to move the ball into a dangerous spot. But our goal scoring
tactics is targeted towards passing the ball quickly to find a player that can
make the last run unattacked or at least in a 1-1 attack.

So as usual the 3-4-1-2 formation has to be adapted in the defensive, build-up
play and offensive. In the defensive position the side midfielders will move
down to become 2 extra defenders, thus turning the formation into 5-2-1-2 or even
5-3-2. Our forwards are part of the defense at least part of the way to aggressively
try to win the ball and possibly one of them can stay up in the last defending
position to ensure that the other team cannot move their defenders too high.
In the offensive position the side midfielders provide much of the attacking force
on the side field, the side defenders can move up a bit when attacking is done on
their side, but given that we play with a 3-player they need to be a bit more
cautious than what they can be in a 4-player defense. So something like a
2-3-3-2 is played in the offensive play or even 2-2-4-2 when we get a strong
possession of the ball.

Given that our system of play requires very careful build-up through many passes
we have focused very hard on the passing competence on all players in our team.
We hope this will bring us much of the ball possession even against strong teams
and this is also a good defense since it slows down those teams that often have
a number of very fast players.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Testimony of a prophet

How does one receive a testimony of a prophet. Jesus gave us
the key in John 7:17 "If any man do his will, he shall know of
the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of
myself".

President Gordon B. Hinckley admonished us to read the
Book of Mormon together as a family.

In our family we followed this advice and got a testimony that
President Hinckley was a prophet when he spoke those words.

Before we followed this advice we had for fifteen years gathered
our family to family prayers and all sorts of family activities.
Having many kids that everyone are intelligent, active and opinated
made those family gatherings sometimes an interesting challenge.

Now when we gather the family we still have as opinated and probably
even more intelligent kids (they got older and thus hopefully more
intelligent :)) but the family gatherings are friendlier, more
spiritual and a lot more fun and inspiring. This change in our family
came about as we started reading the Book of Mormon in our family on
a daily basis. Everyone in the family reads a few verses and then we
move on to the next family member and go around 2-4 rounds in the
family dependent on how many are at home.

So for us following this advice have been a great miracle and a
testimony of a prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley. I am sure that following
this prophetic admonition will bring blessings to any family willing
to abide by it.

You might find some challenges to get started with this in your family.
However as a child of heavenly parents you are entitled to have
personal inspiration about this, so ask your heavenly Father sincerely
and he will give you some simple ideas that will make it work in your
family. In our family my wife asked the Lord about this and got a very
simple message that would make the kids interested in it. After a while
no member in our family would need this extra stimulus. So now we
simply gather the family to family prayer and reading
the Book of Mormon and the spiritual feelings from this and being
together as a family is sufficient.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Optimizing your personal life

A few weeks ago I visited a temple in our church. This gave me
the opportunity to ponder on how to balance the various
responsibilities I have in my life and how to be as effective as
possible in using my time. It's nice to sit for hours and have the
ability to simply ponder, consider and organize your thoughts. So it
took me almost four hours to realise what I thought was the most
important changes I could do in my life to improve it.

Since I work a lot with optimisations of computer programs in my
work, I thought it was fun to name this blog optimizing your
personal life. When practicing this new scheme in my life I've
been able to optimize my life by about 15-20% :)

In those four hours I organised all parts of my life which is of no
general interest. However the most important aspect on how to
improve my efficiency that I concluded was around the simple concept
of getting to bed earlier and getting up earlier. My natural
behaviour is similar to most programmers, that is I prefer late
nights and sleeping in the mornings. In my younger years I have at
numerous occasions tried to change this, however what I usually have
failed in is that I have been overzealous in trying to go to far. It's
also very tempting to cut in both ends, go up early, but still being
awake late.

In Doctrine & Coventants the Lord (88:124) instructs "retire to thy bed
early, that ye may be not weary; arise early, that your bodies and your
minds be invigorated". I have had many occasions to find this
admonishment to be true. However it requires a great deal of discipline
to implement in one's life.

In my pondering I felt what I thought was the right time to go to bed
and arise. For me this new routine has worked very well, I have been
able to get up early in the morning and have a few hours of work
already early in the morning when the mind is fresh and foremost
the stress level haven't started rising yet. I have also been able to
schedule some times for relaxing and for some parts in my life which
previously there wasn't any time for.

I have seen the Lord's hand in assisting me implementing this in my
life. I am sure I will meet many more challenges in this area in my
life, but I think the general concept of not trying to run faster than
your mind and body sustain is very wise and seems to be at least one
area where age has given me some more wisdom.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Achieving Perfection

One of my personal traits is that I strive for perfection
in what I do. Perfection however is something one very
rarely achieves and if it is achieved it takes a very
long time and hard work.

In my working life I can recall three moments of having the
feeling of achieving perfection. The first one was in
building a interrupt handler for a LAN device. The last
performance improvement that finally made the LAN device
completely stable in not losing data was when I removed the
first instruction after the interrupt (it was an instruction
that changed from decimal execution to binary execution in
case the user had turned on decimal execution. However after
checking through non-interrupt code I found that there was
no such code at all so it was a wasted instruction. This
meant 2.25% better performance which was enough to stabilise
such that I always handled RS232 interrupts on 19.2 kBaud
before they were overwritten by the next byte arriving.
The second was when building an interpreter and I finally
came down to a minimum of 7 SPARC assembler instructions
to handle the simplest interpreted instruction plus making
the interpreter pipelined in two stages. Quite interesting
design to make software in a similar manner to how hardware
is designed. The third was when I achieved linear scalability
on DBT2 for MySQL Cluster.

For me bringing something to perfection is beatiful and it
sort of turns on positive vibes in my soul. The path to
perfection is however full of agony, full of mistakes,
where we often think we're close to the solution, but
somehow there is another problem to resolve before
perfection is achieved.

In my personal life I experienced similar days of feeling
that I reached some level of perfection. However I'm
soon taken down from my lofty thoughts and shown what
more I can perfect before I'm done.

Jesus challenged us to become perfect as our Heavenly Father
is perfect. To me this means entering a path of constantly
striving for perfection in our personal lifes. It means
feelings of agony, it means experiencing mistakes, it means
days of feeling good about where you are and where you're
heading. I'm sure we won't reach perfection before this
life ends, but I'm sure eventually we can reach there and
it's a path that I know is worthy of following.

Another trait of reaching to perfection is prayer. For me all
of the above perfections came through a long series of
inspiration from above. One thing I noted about prayer is that
in order to receive the answer to your prayers for perfection
you have to work hard on your own to learn all the details
already known through books, other people and so forth. However
when you've done all that then answers to your prayers will
flow to you constantly. This happened to me at the end of my
Ph.D studies. I had a period of a little more than a year when
I almost on a daily basis had a flow of inspiration coming to me.

So my experience of the path to perfection is that one should
work hard, be prayerful, expect to be knocked down in all
senses of the word on the way and expect to find a lot of joy
also on the path to perfection.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Family Search

I started using the new Family Search (currently only open for
editing by LDS members, but searchable by anyone).

This is the beginning of something really big in the genealogy
sphere. It's the beginning of a family tree for all people.

It will make it possible to work together on common ancestors.
So immediately when I enter my data about one of my ancestors
everyone else will be able to see this information and give
comments, dispute my information and so forth.

Some time in the future it will hopefully also be possible to
make direct links from records of an ancestor and the historical
document(s) which represents the source of the information on this
ancestor.

It's amazing to see how the Lord's work is brought forth through
the inventions in the field of computer science. Given that this
is also my profession it makes it really fun to go to work.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The importance of families

Welcome to my personal blog.

Today in church we had an interesting discussion on the importance
of families. So why are families important?

Jesus said in John 17:3 "And this is life eternal, that they might
know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent".
And we are the children of God, so God has a family which we belong
to. Thus if we want to know God we also need a family. In fact in
Doctrine & Covenants (this is a collection of modern day revelations
to the prophet Joseph Smith and others) 131:1-4 we read that in order
to receive eternal life a person has to enter into the everlasting
covenant of marriage (This means being married or sealed together in
a temple of the Lord).
http://www.lds.org/temples/geographical/0,11380,1899-1,00.html

So Jesus and his prophets have clearly stated the importance, in fact
this has been even more clearly stated recently in "The Family: A
Proclamation to the world". So what are my personal experiences of a
family and its importance.

My experience as a son in my parent's family. It wasn't a perfect
family but I've learned from this experience that the most important
thing a parent can do lies in what's in his heart. If you discover
as a son that your parents really care about you as a person, then
this will be the most important thing you carry with you into life.
Thus my experience from being a son is that everyone that is capable
of loving his children can be a successful parent.

Finally my experience as a husband (no grandchildren yet :)).
This experience has learned me many, many things. Among the most
crucial ones is the ability to say no to your kids:) I've also
learned that love can grow when there is trust, comfort and love
in the relation. The more trust you feel for each other the more
you are allowed to discover about your spouse. I still learn new
things about my spouse after more than a quarter of century together.

I am actually part of many more families, I'm thinking of all the
families of my ancestors. I've done quite a bit of genealogical
research and knows almost all ancestors back 200 year and most even
300-400 years back and some as far back as 600 years back. Quite
interesting that it's possible to get so far given that there is
only swedish farmers and soldiers amongst my ancestors.

This genealogical research has led me to put my heart towards my
fathers as Malaki prophesied in Malaki 4:5-6 "Behold, I will send
you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful
day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the
children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I
come and smite the earth with a curse."

It's amazing to read stories of the sufferings my ancestors have
passed through to build Sweden as we know it today with all the
welfare making Sweden a beacon of nations in many ways today. One
can even imagine a lot about the life they lived simply by reading
about when family members were born, died and were married.

As a good example is a family of one of my ancestors which was
married 1747. They had in total 15 children, of those around 7
died already as small children. When the oldest children was around
a 20 in 1768 a disease spread quickly in the neighbourhood and it
took the 3-4 oldest children and it also took the wife in the family.
What a heartbreaking experience to live to see your kids grow up and
be taken away just one their grown-up life is about to start and your
wife at the same time as well. What makes me especially grateful to
this family is that the youngest child born 1764 was my
mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's mother. Actually no one
else of my ancestors have had 15 children.

So are families important? They are the most important thing in this
life and I hope I can meet my entire family after leaving this life
and hear all the great stories of their life and experiences. I hope
I can add to those my own experiences, from living in the days of the
world, which prophets of old looked forward so much to, when
knowledge is spread as an ocean amongst everyone.