Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Peaking too early?

The Argentina-Holland game was a big disappointment. Clearly, both teams didn't want to risk injuries and suspensions and play their hearts out. The last time they played in the 1998 cup was a great game and there was a lot of hostility, which for a neutral supporter is fun to watch. Wish I'd seen the Ivory Coast - Serbia game. Even though it was meaningless, the highlights were very exciting.

One of the commentators, at halftime, suggested maybe Argentina had peaked too early. This is a term which I've never quite understood for a team sport. Peaking at the right time is something which makes sense for an individual athlete, like a runner. The idea is to never go all out in your training and preliminary races and keep increasing the intensity with every race and training session and then go all out on the day of the big race. While training for a marathon you never run the whole 26 miles at your race pace. At most about 22 miles and at about 80-90% of your desired pace. But it's the individual athlete who knows exactly how much energy he's expending and if you train hard enough you know how much you can exert.

For a team sport it's obviously much harder to do. Telling each of your players to keep increasing their intensity with each game wouldn't really work. It's possible that some of your key players can control their performance but in a tournament like the world cup where a slight slip can knock you out it would be foolish. Since there is so much coordination and teamwork required (especially in something like football) it's obvious when a player isn't up to the mark. Invariably, that player is substituted - like Ronaldo these days. Each time a team manages to shake off a shaky start to go on and win a major tournament it's called peaking at the right team. But there are more teams which get knocked out because they weren't performing at the right level and they get blasted for a lacklustre showing. In the case of a team winning after a bad start it's more a question of the team gelling together and each player understanding his role - not peaking at the right time.

5 comments:

Beks said...

I'm totally enjoying your analysis of the World Cup:)

bandafbab said...

thanks. wait for me to start on cricket. i'll keep a separate blog for that!

Beks said...

Cricket is so not my cup of tea... I like the World Cup because it's so quick.

MiddleRoad said...

My two cents - not that anybody cares -

US is out, and France is next. Oui Oui.

Fine, so Ghana probably did not deserve the penalty, but US team is still better off going home, sipping a bud and watching a baseball game. The hope of US Soccer will spring eternal when it begins to have names like there are in MLB - Rodriguez, Tejada, Cabrera, Ibanez....

bandafbab said...

i should remind you that every german, brit, brazilian in the stands is also drinking a bud - the official beer of the world cup. that means no other beer can be sold in the stadium.