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Game Model and Principles of Play Analysis of the Polish Men’s National Team

Too much fun!! Men’s Nations League2021!!

All the teams are full of unique players, and you can feel their national characteristics, but the Polish men’s national team, in particular, makes me very conscious of the existence of “game models” and “playing principles.

In the world of soccer, it has become mainstream for teams to tactically compete by clearly articulating their “game model” and “playing principles,” and books on how to create a game model and magazines featuring the game models and playing principles of top league teams are available to the general public. As an amateur soccer player, I am excited to read about it.

I hope that one day “game models” and “principles of play” will be discussed as a matter of course in the volleyball world, but just praying is not going to make things happen.

Then, I came up with an idea.

I have come up with the idea of describing the Polish men’s national team’s “game model” and “principles of play” based on my own prejudice.

What is the Game Model?

You may have a vague idea of what a “game model” is when you hear the term, but let’s delve a little deeper. The sport in which the term “game model” is most commonly used is, as mentioned above, soccer.

The history of the game model dates back to about 40 years ago. The birthplace of the game model is Portugal. It was proposed by Professor Vitor Foulade of the University of Porto. My impression is that the definition of the term “game model” is slightly different from one person to another. For this reason, I would like to write a little about my own interpretation here. If I were to use a different term to describe the game model, I would say that it is a “playing system. In the case of volleyball, it is a system that allows the six players on the court to play most efficiently and effectively in order to win the game.

But this is still abstract.

Instead of going into a lengthy discussion of the game model, I have come up with a better way.


I hope you enjoyed his interview.

I remember watching volleyball legend Julio Velasco talk about game models on Youtube, using a very simple analogy. Frankly speaking, I don’t think there is a better way to explain the game model. Please read the following first.

Interviewer: Even if you have the best players in the world, do you still have to have a team concept (game model) ?

Julio Velasco: Definitely.

Interviewer: Is it absolutely essential?

Julio Velasco: I don’t mean that it is indispensable. The system (game model) that a team has is adapted by the players. If you have the best players in the world, you need a system that allows them to play the best in the world. That’s the problem. A system is not an absolute rule. It’s a system that solves normal situations that arise in the game.

Interviewer: So the system is there to solve the situation?

Julio Velasco: It solves situations that are expected, standard situations. If the other party breaks the system, you need the individual’s ability to solve it. This is like traffic rules. Road traffic is like a system.

Interviewer: Is road traffic a system?

Julio Velasco: Yes! It determines where to stop and when to stop or not to stop.

Interviewer: And?

Julio Velasco: If there were no traffic rules, it would be a terrible thing. And if the car in front of you suddenly has a heart attack and the car stops suddenly, if you can avoid it, you’re saved, if you can’t avoid it, you are dead.

Interviewer: Excellent! I think that’s the best way to explain it. So you’re saying that in an unexpected situation, the system (game model) doesn’t solve the problem, but the individual has to solve it.

Julio Velasco: That’s what I mean! For example, if you’re defending and you have a system and all of a sudden your teammates go out to pressure you…

Interviewer: So which do you prefer? Julio, you are really wonderful. I would like to show my respect. Which do you prefer, that the system(game-model) solves the problem or that the talent solves the problem?

Julio Velasco: Who?

Interviewer: You! As the leader of the team.

Julio Velasco: For yourself? Both. I urge my players to be creative when the system(game model) can’t solve a situation. But we train as a team to do what we do in the game. The system(game-model) has something in common with road traffic. That is that we should not use our brains for things that are not important. That way you can leave brain energy for creativity.

Now, let me summarize the game model in bullet points based on this interview.

  • Game model is a system that is actually applied by looking at the actual players.
  • Game model is a system that is necessary for the six players on the court to perform at their best.
  • Game model is not a set of rules that bind the players, but rather gives them freedom.
  • Game model is a system for resolving situations within the game’s assumptions.
  • Game model is a system that prevents players from wasting their creativity.
  • When the game model is broken by the opponent, that is, in an unexpected situation, it is necessary to deal with the problem by individual self-solving ability(creativity).
  • Game model and the individual’s ability(creativity) to solve problems. Both are essential for a team.

What is the Playing Principle?

Let’s now consider the playing principles.

In a nutshell, the Playing Principles are a more concrete verbalization (tasking) of Game Model.

For each phase of the game, a set of playing principles (main principles, quasi-principles, quasi-quasi-principles, etc.) are established. Players are trained to incorporate these playing principles into tasks so that they can play in accordance with the playing principles on an “unconscious” level. Once all players on the court are able to play in accordance with the principles of play, the team’s game model is strongly expressed.

Game Model and Principles of Play of the Polish Men’s National Team

Now that we have a better understanding of the game model and principles of play, we will now look more closely at the game model and principles of play of the Polish men’s national team.

Please note that this is my own speculation and creation based on what I saw in the VNL (please consider this as a prototype of a prototype). I am still in the midst of my thinking about what I am describing here, so I would be happy to receive various comments and opinions. I am sure that new learning will emerge from this process. I will now describe the game model and principles of play under each of the five phases. Since we are still in the process of thinking about how to set up each phase, we would like to receive feedback from readers on how we should think about the phases.

Before describing each phase, I will paste some video clips (highlights) of VNL games for your reference.

●Game Model
In any situation, play for the following three points

・To secure the numerical superiority of the attacker over the opponent’s blockers (at least equal position).

・Ensure the numerical superiority (minimum equality) of the blocker over the opponent’s attacker.

・Maximize the performance of the on-attacker (attack at his/her best)

Principles of Play

▶︎Service Phase
【Main Principle】
・Destruction of the numerical superiority of the opposing team’s attackers
【Semi-Principle】
・Server: Aggressive and controllable service aimed at outside hitters
・Front-defense: Defensive preparation from the bunch lead
・Floor-defense: Defensive preparation in conjunction with the front defense

▶︎Defence (Reception) Phase
【Main Principle】
・Ensure numerical superiority of the attacker.
【Semi-principles】
・Serve-reciever: Ensuring approach space and time for all attackers to participate in the attack
・Setter: Ensuring the time between attackers (between the block and the opponent’s block, between the net and the ball, time for the ball to float).
・Attackers: Ensure the approach for maximum performance.

▶︎Attack (Reception-Attack) Phase
【Main Principles】
・The attacker must be able to maximize his/her performance.
【Semi-principle】
・On-attacker: Attacks by making the best use of “spacing” (time between the opponent’s block, time between the net and the ball, time the ball is in the air)
・Off-attacker: Switching to floor defense in preparation for the opponent’s kill block
・Setter & Libero: floor defense in preparation for opponent’s kill block

▶︎Defensive (block & dig) phase
【Main Principle】
・ Blockers have numerical superiority (at least equal) / Attackers have numerical superiority (at least equal)
【Semi-principles】
・Blockers: Blockers have at least a numerical advantage (at least equal) from bunch reads.
・Diggers: Positioning in conjunction with the front defense and ensuring space and time for all attackers to approach.
・Setters: Ensure “spacing” (between the block, between the net and the opponent’s block, time for the ball to float) for the attackers.
・All attackers: Ensure approach for maximum performance

▶︎Attack (Transition-Attack) Phase
【Main principles】
・Maximum performance by the on-attacker.
【Semi-principle】
・On-attacker: Attacks that make the most use of “spacing” (time between the opponent’s block, time between the net and the ball, and time the ball floats).
・Off-attacker: Switching to floor defense in preparation for the opponent’s kill block
・Setter & Libero: Floor defense in preparation for the opponent’s kill block.
Through a discussion of the “Game Model” and “Principles of Play

It is not clear whether the Polish men’s national team has a clearly articulated game model and principles of play in the form described above, and whether they are shared within the team. However, it seemed to me that the team had a “GAME MODEL” and played according to the principles that accompanied it from start to finish. That is why I decided to describe the “game model” and “playing principles.

Through this description process, I think I have also come to understand that the “Game Model” and “Playing Principles” are not meant to mold players and deprive them of their individuality (creativity), but rather are effective as a means to allow them to show their individuality (creativity).

Individuality (creativity) is not something that can be unleashed by simply letting the players play freely, but rather it is something that is unleashed under certain rules (appropriate restrictions).

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