My friend, fellow coach and Cal Bear Teale Matteson once told me about a concept he
learned from Brazilians. Coaches there sometimes categorize players into one of three groups, Teale didn’t remember the Portuguese words and so I am making up my own terms:
STALWARTS: players who are reliable, dedicated and consistent. They will always “take one for the team.” They are usually not gifted players. Their technique may have weak spots. But they run until they drop. They will shadow the other team’s best player and mark him out of the game. They will get in the wall and not flinch. If the ball goes over the fence, they will go get it.
If we were on Gilligan’s Island, an example would be The Skipper. In football, I think of Gennaro Gattuso.
SCHEMERS: players who see the game in its entirety. They know where all 22 players are, who’s tired, all the strengths and weaknesses. They may not be the fittest, fastest or toughest players, but they have vision that others lack. They are the player who makes the brilliant pass that makes teammates look good and defenders look silly.
If we were on Gilligan’s Island, an example would be The Professor. In football, look at Carlos Valderrama.
STARS: players who are gifted on the ball, faster, flashier and more creative than others. They will make the miracle play, beating three on the dribble and hitting the top corner for a goal. They will not do it every day, however. They aren’t always on time. Sometimes they don’t feel like it. But when they are on, there’s no one who can match them.
If we were on Gilligan’s Island, an example would be Ginger. In football, the quintessential George Best.
I think John O’Brien touches on this in the NYT, saying:
“I am not sure what is an appropriate ratio of creative risk takers to more stable players on a team, but I do know that when the balance is off the results can be disastrous. Too little selfishness and the play is dull and drab, too much and it unsettles the team chemistry.”
This is why a team of all-stars may not get good results. Many have pointed out the errors of Real Madrid, when they signed several Stars and tried to weave them together into an effective unit; their president even called the squad “Galácticos“, a constellation of stars.
According to Teale, a good team needs a latticework of all three types spread throughout the lineup. Look at any team that is dominant, and see if you can detect how they create the proper mix.