Become a better scout by recognizing those four phases in every football action

As a scout, you constantly evaluate players. It helps a lot to be effective if you use several ‘lenses’ to watch football through. One of those lenses is a simple and understandable framework that heavily improves your understanding of match situations. It significantly helps to rate the performance and potential of players more accurately. In this article, you will learn more about this framework.

Four phases of every football action

Once you see it, you can never unsee it: every football action has the same four phases, as Raymond Verheijen explains in great detail in his books and courses.

  1. Communication
  2. Decision (what)
  3. Decision (how)
  4. Execution

First, a player exchanges information with his environment. Then, he decides which football action he wants to perform. Next, he decides how to perform it. Finally, he executes his decision. 

Is it that simple? Yes and no.

Yes, because the more you look at football actions through this lens, the easier it gets to recognize those four phases.

And no, it’s very hard to know exactly which information a player collected and what a player decided, as we can not look into his brain.

(1) Communication

The first stage of every football action is communication. That can be about many things.

  • A player pointing in the direction where he wants to receive the ball.

Communication through pointing where to receive

  • A player looking over his shoulder to see how much space there is.

  • A player pointing towards an opponent to let a teammate know he should mark him.

  • And even a teammate leaning forward which indicates he will start a deep run.

  • Or an opponent leaning over to start pressing.

Communication by defensive body position

There are many more examples of two or more teammates/opponents exchanging information, verbally or nonverbally, intentionally or unintentionally.

In other words: players continuously (sent and) collect information about their surroundings, such as the ball, the goal, the sideline, the opponents and their teammates. The information they collect is very useful in the next two stages of every football action.

(2) Decision ‘what’

Based on all the information players collect and process and their game intelligence, they decide what to do next. 

Let’s examine a few options that the player on the ball has as an example.

  • Dribble.
  • Cross.
  • Pass.
  • Shoot.

“A player decided what to do based on the information he collected and processed and his game intelligence”

(3) Decision ‘how’

After deciding what his next action will be, a player decides how he will execute this action. 

Below, you’ll find an example for each of the four possible football actions provided above.

  • ‘Speed up the dribble diagonally to the left.’
  • ‘Give an early out swinging high cross to the second post.’
  • ‘Pass the ball on the ground to his right foot.’
  • ‘A curled shot low into the far corner.’
(4) Execution

After deciding what to do and how to do it, a player tries to execute his decision as precisely as possible. The better the technique of the player, the higher the chance that the football action is executed accurately.

To be more specific, every football action consists of four time-space characteristics: position, moment, direction, and speed, as explained in another article on this website.

The closer the position, moment, direction, and speed of the ‘execution’ are to the ‘decision (how),’ the better the football action was executed from a technical point of view.

Bring theory into practice

To adopt this framework and become a better scout, look at football actions through this lens the next time you watch football. If you can pause and rewind, find some situations that are specifically interesting from this point of view.

Do you need help with that? In our course Video Scouting Essentials, we explain this framework among other ones, show video examples, and provide tasks to practice by watching matches. We give individual feedback on those tasks to help you improve your skills as a scout.

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