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In soccer, even an infinitesimal episode can change everything, like a butterfly can provoke a hurricane in the other hemisphere.

The example of the butterfly is only a journalist’s invention to make a sensational article title to underline the principle that, every infinitesimal change provokes enormous and unthinkable consequences, just like a butterfly wing flapping, can provoke a catastrophic consequence in the global weather.

This began when an expert in climatology, while putting some data in his computer to simulate climatic change through the decades, decided to simplified his research by taking away the infinitesimal fractions of the degrees in temperatures. When, as a curiosity, he compared the resulting data, with and without the infinitesimal fraction after the comma, the difference in the results were unbelievable.

So, this makes clear that, following the rules which govern chaos, every infinitesimal variation leads to a totally different reality.

Where am I going with this?

Easy! In a soccer game, every insignificant episode will generate a different soccer game and probably, more importantly, a different final score.

How many times do we see arguing about whether a ball is in or out of the side line?
How many times has a ‘throw-in’ been asked for by the other team?
How many times do we see discussion concerning the position of the ball for an indirect free kick?

And these are marginal episodes.

Have you ever realize that, just switching the direction of a throw in, could be not just an infinitesimal change? From that ball could begin the action that leads a team to score! So the final score, would have been different if that throw in would have been given to the other team.

The most curious consequence is that, the switching of the throw in will not necessarily favor the team which, in that moment, might score. Independently of that goal, maybe this team will lose at the end of the game! So, what apparently helped them in that particular case, generated a final score that made them lose the game! Without that throw in in favor, the game might have been different and, aside from that goal, generated by that episode in favor, they could have had other different opportunities and maybe, they would have won the game!

The rules of chaos are unpredictable so, every change in every second of the game, like in life, leads to a different reality.

And up to now, I’ve considered only infinitesimal changes. Imagine when a dubious penalty kick is given to team A. At that moment team B never stops complaining. As the game continues, team B was able to come back and, scoring 2 goals, win the game. No one realizes that this was made possible only by the dubious penalty given to team A. Without that, maybe team A would have won the game 3 to nothing, because from the moment after the penalty not given, the game would have gone to in a totally different direction. So, in the end, if it were possible to ask team B: “Do you guys still have a complaint about the penalty against you? Would you like to repeat the game?” What do you think the answer would be?

As I said, in a game every second counts. In a 90 minute game, there are thousands of micro-games 1v1, that last a few seconds. The team that wins more of these micro-games, is likely to win the game. The less randomly episodes are left to chaos, the less final surprises a team will have.

This is the basic mistake we all make. Me too. We look at the game in general and not trough micro-episodes. In any sports.

In basketball, players go crazy in the last 30/40 seconds for a rebound in defense or in attack, to have the chance to score that magic point to win a game that was even. No one remembers the beginning of the game, when a team was leading by 10/15 points and, mistake after mistake, threw away that advantage in micro-games 1v1. There are teams that, during the NBA season, loose dozens of games by 2 or 3 points. No one remembers that during those games they have missed 10/15 free throws which could have permitted them to win dozens of games, without any problem by a 10 point lead! No one remembers this particular and everything has to depend on that last shot that could go in or out.

It’s the same in soccer. A 0-0 score makes a team do whatever they can in the last few minutes to have a miracle. What about the dozens of missed passes, traps and shots during the game, that could have generated the right situations that could have made one of the 2 teams score?

So, every second counts. A ball won back on half field, when the opponent team is totally out of balance, will permit a counter attack, score and, hopefully, winning of the game!

The little episodes are the ones that make the difference. In any field. Not only on the soccer field.

In politics, society, history, science, how many times have infinitesimal and accidental episodes lead to epical change in the daily life of a nation?

Even in our lives, how many times has something happened that, at the moment seem nothing, made us find another job, a new friend, a new love, a new home, a new……………………………… whatever?

We live in the illusion that we plan our lives, without considering the banana peel around the corner. Remember John Lennon’s words?

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

So, it’s the same in soccer. Fight for every ball, in every part of the field, because it’s from that ball, that many other times you though was not important, the action will restart for your team and probably lead to score. Otherwise, probably, the other team will do so.

Be the butterfly, that provokes a positive hurricane in your life! Who knows where that wind will drive you. But if you don’t flap your wings, you’ll never know.

As simple as that!

Coach Gianni
Posted on 19 May 2006 by coachgianni
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