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Is High Level Specialisation the way forward?

During the Holland vs Costa Rica game, one of the most bizarre moments of football occurred when Louis Van Gaal switched sensational keeper Jasper Cilleseen for Tim Krul specifically for the penalty shootout. The gamble seemed to pay off, but was it really that much of gamble when Tim Krul had been practising penalty saves throughout the pre World Cup preparations.  This showed the air of a new high level specialisation in football which we could be seeing more and more of in future games.

Is high level specialisation the way forward for modern football coaching?

Specialisation has become more and more apparent in modern football. We've seen new positions invented to cope with the modern game, such as the inside forward position designed specifically for a player to cut onto his other foot. (e.g. Robben)

But last night, even that type of specialisation was surpassed. After Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal swapped his 1st choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillesen (who had a spectacular game) for Tim Krul, who hadn't played a competitive game in almost two months. Many thought this was a huge gamble, but after watching even the first penalty viewers could see this was no ordinary gamble, Krul had been prepared exactly for this moment, it was later revealed that he had been trained to save penalties during the entire World Cup build up as well as during the World Cup (this included intimidation tactics). Making him a specialist for penalties. The tactics paid off after Krul saved two penalties from the Costa Rican's sending Holland through.

This begs the question, will players become so specialised that they are only useful for one part of the game? In fact, this has already been happening with Miroslav Klose (Germany) as he's scored a record-equalising 15 goals during his World Cup campaigns. All his World Cup goals have been scored from in and around the penalty area. Meaning he is almost perfect if the ball is in the box and needs to be finished however, this does mean he's much less effective at scoring from outside the 18 yard box. Another prime example of this is Rory Delap as he was not particularly special during normal play, but his long-throws could win games and were effectively corners for Stoke.

Are these kind of methods going to create a new breed of players and tactics in the future? For instance, when players know they will be coming up against a keeper like Tim Krul what if they cart-wheeled up to the penalty spot in order to throw him off track or ran up backwards to avoid his intimidation (see video below). This high level specialisation in football may even lead to one player being brought on for a 35 yard free kick and a separate player brought on for a 20 yard free kick.  

-Credit to RaccoonEvi1

During the development of Football there have been many new suggestions to improve the game. In order for FIFA to implement new changes, they have to be tested first before making to big stages like the World Cup. The most recent example of this was the referee's foam spray for free kicks (being used in the current World Cup) which was first tested at the European Under 17 championship and the FIFA under 20 World Cup earlier this year. So would FIFA allow five substitutions instead of three or two extra subs for extra time, for more entertaining football? (Maybe experimenting like the Washington Post).

If so, would this mean testing the new high level specialisation training at grass roots level before it's exported to the World Stage and what would the psychological effects be on rising talent? (Would players get on the pitch if their specialty never occurred or get subbed off even after playing well because that particular move isn't their specialisation). 

These new coaching methods also pose another question, would new high level specialisation coaching really improve future teams or would it destabilise young player's development? 

So would you be willing to attempt the high level specialisation coaching methods when creating new players or are they too damaging to grass-roots football? Tweet us @fitforfootball.

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