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Image taken from https://medium.com/@ncspost/first-principles-analogy-in-design-486cf097f683

"A Single Fixed Constraint to Tactical Possibilities" you are presented with the governing parameters by which tactical possibilities are achievable. To summarize, the rules/laws of competition are the single fixed constraint. Which is to state, that as long as your tactical objectives do not violate the rules/laws of competition, then they are achievable. Correspondingly, any tactical approaches that have yet to be realized, either violate an existing rule/law of competition, or, if they don't, the knowledge has yet to exist to manifest them.

In this blog section, you'll be presented with additional opportunities to evolve your perspective on sport tactical preparation.

In this specific entry, you are presented with the knowledge necessary to begin the process of understanding tactical preparation from a first principles perspective.

Tactical Preparatory First Principles

The practice week is conventionally understood as the preparatory opportunity preceding game day. While it includes much more than is conceptually thought of, the conception is generally the 2-3 hours a day spent rehearsing strategies (offensive, defensive, transitional) developed to overcome the competition. This rehearsal may include both intellectual/analytical (video review and discussion) as well as 'physical' practice of sport motions; either in competition approximation (scrimmage) or derivatives of competition in which lesser numbers of athletes scrimmage against one another to narrow the reference frame of dynamical complexity (i.e. in association football 5 v5 or 6 v 6, or in American football 7 on 7 or 9 on 9, and so on). From this, further derivations result in lesser and lesser athletes per practice activity, all the way down to the individual level in which technical skills begin to assume greater and greater emphasis, over tactical understanding/decision making. 

Tactics, no matter in the military/tactical or sport context, regard real-time factors (knowledge, intuition, decision making, motion...) and manifest as actions taken by an individual, or team of individuals, either in reaction to, or with knowledge of, an opponent's actions. 

Tactical execution is the most emergent, and arguably important, manifestation of all steps taken in team sport, combat sport, and military preparation, because it exists as the competition/real world actions that are the most specific determining factors influencing the outcome. 

As an emergent process, the substrates of tactics must be understood, and it is this sort of first principles understanding that will allow coaches to optimize rehearsal for games. Tactical execution begins with decision and finalizes with action.


The decision aspect of tactical execution regards knowledge amassed in preparation and most importantly- sensory processing. For most sports, and military, applications, this regards mapping the visual field onto the visual cortex (retinotopic mapping) and the ensuing process of pattern recognition. It is during this vastly overlooked and under appreciated aspect of 'tactical decision making' that a host of misconceptions arise. For example: in a variety of sports, slow sensory processing speed is the reason why athletes appear to be 'stiff'; however, the fact that the sensory factor is the limiting one often goes unnoticed and the misconception is that the athlete is limited in some physical way. 

Further, psychological state is profoundly fundamental to tactical decision maker; which is why I describe this as either the amplifying or limiting factor towards every other conceivable aspect of preparation. Psychological preparation that results in behavioral modifications to include, for instance, self-regulation, resolve, and aggression, are powerful amplifiers to any pre-existing knowledge, skills and abilities. Alternatively, no amount of knowledge, skill, or ability can compensate for psychological dysfunction.


 Those familiar with my work will recognize the analogy (technique is to tactics as grammar is to dialogue). This signifies the importance of the technical execution of motion serving foundational relevance to tactical actions; just as the quality of dialogue is nearly entirely a function of the grammatical correctness of the people doing the speaking. This regards the physical/action aspect of tactical execution.

Further, technical execution is also an emergent process of which its substrates consist of neuro-coordinative/neuro-physiological, bioenergetic, biodynamic, and biomotor processes. Similarly, the mechanics of language (grammar) are also emergent as the cognitive processes that precede grammar are even more fundamental.

For example: consider Lionel Messi's ball handling (football), Tom Brady throwing a ball (American football), Nikita Kucherov's stick handling (ice hockey), Mike Trout's batting (baseball), Khabib Nurmagomedov's ground control (MMA), Steph Curry's shooting (basketball), or Dan Carter's kicking (Rugby Union), all of which are uncontroversially understood as technical aspects of each athlete's discipline. A sufficient analysis of each of these 'technical' actions reveals that the action itself possesses a significant neuro-cognitive factor; it's just that the 'non-physical aspects' of technical execution are more subtle than the outright decision making akin to tactical execution. 

From this, it should now be clear that decision + action describes tactical execution as well as technical execution; and decision, in its conventional reference frame, does not, relatively speaking, diminish from the scenario until we arrive a deeper fundamentals of motion- purely physical. While 'neuro' processes are always present, regarding all motion that is not otherwise stimulated by exogenous electrical current, the action of 'decision making' is relatively negligible when the motions are cyclical/repetitive and not based upon reaction (such as when sprinting, jumping, lifting weights...)


In this way, it should be clear that, apart from an academic understanding of the subject matter, there is no plausible segregation of tactical, technical, or physical preparation in the context of physical expenditure. Simply stated, apart from intellectual/analytical preparation in the academic sense, it's all physical preparation that differs only in how closely, or not, the dynamics of motion approximate those of competition motions themselves. 

You are asked to recognize that is only the typology of 'action' preparation that differs and, for this reason, your enhanced first principles understanding of tactical preparation mandates that your efforts henceforth unify what is most certainly fragmented (i.e. if you're a sport coach, your strength coach and physio does his/her thing, if you're a strength coach you don't have much say over sport practice or physio, if you're a physio you don't have much influence over sport practice or preparation apart from sport practice...). The solution to this fractured infrastructure is what I refer to as sport preparatory engineering and exists as an analog to how engineers or composers function in building and musical performance, respectively. 

The engineered blueprint by which all modes of tactical preparation (technical and bluntly physical) are realized, is the future of sport coaching and preparation for sport. 

More explanations that you were likely unaware existed, in this regard, are presented to you in "The Governing Dynamics of Coaching"

Email James@globalsportconcepts.net for consulting information on sport preparatory engineering, psychological preparation, and coaching education in general


Entries in this blog

The Failure of Tactical Execution Due to Psychological Interference- A Study of the Main and Co-Main Events at UFC 235

In the wake of UFC 235, Tactical preparation  will be explained from a top down perspective so as to elucidate upon one of the most foundational, yet one of the greatest limiting factors in preparation for sport.  Tactical Execution begins with the binary, and highly emergent, nature of decisions and actions. The focus here is the implications surrounding the failure to execute tactical game plans. Decisions From the top down perspective, the discussion of each tactical decis

James Smith

James Smith

A Single Fixed Constraint to Tactical Possibilities

The following reality exists amidst universal considerations: any physical transformation is achievable so long as it does not violate a known law of physics; and the only reasons a physical transformation is unachievable, if it does not violate a known law of physics, is that there isn't enough knowledge to solve it yet, or it violates a law of physics that has yet to be discovered. The analog to this, regarding the single fixed constraint governing sport/military tactical possibilities, are th

James Smith

James Smith

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