The Hardest Workers Don't Do the Best Work

    At the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, the U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley put up a statistic that wowed folks back home: He ran further than anyone else. Through three games, Bradley had covered a total of 23.4 miles, according to a micro-transmitter embedded in his cleat, while his team finished tops among nations in “work rate,” a simple measure of movement per minute otherwise known as running around.

    Left unmentioned was the fact that the lowest work rate of the tournament by a non-defender was recorded by its most valuable player, Argentine goal machine Lionel Messi.

    Yup, work smart, not hard. 

    [Source: The Hardest Workers Don't Do the Best Work - Bloomberg]

    How FIFA affects real-life football


    Ibrahimovic said that he would ‘often spot solutions in the games that I then parlayed into real life’ as a young player. Mats Hummels, the Bayern Munich and Germany defender, has suggested that ‘maybe some people use what they learn in FIFA when they find themselves on a pitch.’

    And this is from Jason Kottke. You'll find more references on his post


    The world's best footballers in 2013

    The world’s best footballers in 2013

    Coyle tells the story of Simon Clifford, a gym teacher from Leeds, England, who traveled to Brazil in 1997 to better understand why the Brazilians were so good at soccer.

    While conventional wisdom had held that the main factors were poverty, soccer as a dominant national sport and a good climate, Clifford found that until the late 1950s, the Brazilians were not a soccer powerhouse. But during that decade, Brazil became obsessed with a type of indoor soccer called futsal. The game is played with a smaller, heavier ball in a much tighter indoor space. Because the ball is heavy and small, it can’t be kicked in the air easily. As a result, precision in passing is key.

    In one minute of futsal, the average player passes six times as much as in a minute of regular soccer. And in soccer, passing precision is key in separating great from good. So inadvertently, the Brazilians were acquiring the right soccer skills through futsal in a much more deliberate way than if they had been training on large, outdoor fields. In 1958, Brazil won the World Cup, beginning a dynasty of soccer domination.

    Asking whether 10000 hours of practice can help achieve entrepreneurial excellence, Jon Auerbach of Charles River Ventures tell us this story. The upshot is that sometimes, practice isn’t deliberate; so perhaps you have been practicing for something but you are not aware of it yet. 

    Can 10,000 Hours Of Practice Make Perfect?

    Wenger is taking such abuse now partly because, in his first seasons in London, he set the bar so high. He transformed Neanderthal English football. He ditched Arsenal’s traditional prematch meal of baked beans and Coca-Cola. He used stats to track, for instance, after how many minutes a player lost speed and needed substituting. Crucially, he knew football globally. English football in the 1990s was so insular (indeed xenophobic) that many managers didn’t even watch World Cups.
    Arsène’s austerity, a great and thorough portrait of Arsène Wenger — Arsenal’s manager — in the Financial Times. 


    The world’s best footballers in the form of a periodic table. 

    Football, identity and racism in Europe

    Last week, the Milan AC soccer team walked off the pitch after some supporters of the opponents “yelled abuse at black teammates”. Why does this happen in Europe, during sport matches? 

    Celestine Bohlen has a thorough look at the issue:

    There it is, “identity,” a word that gets flashed like a red card as people struggle to determine what it means to be French, Belgian, British or Russian in an era of large-scale immigration, and economic globalization.

    The problem is that this debate typically turns defensive, with identity defined in narrow, exclusive terms. The issue may be a reflection of a popular uneasiness over waves of new arrivals from abroad, but the terms of the discussion are rarely about integration, or tolerance.

    In France, then-President Nicolas Sarkozy started a febrile — and largely futile — debate on the state of the nation’s identity in 2009. It was a flop right from the start as critics questioned the usefulness of any discussion set in motion by a presidential decree.