Contrasting Learning Psychology Theories Applied to the Teaching-Learning-Training Process of Tactics in Soccer

Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 12 (2021)

  • Grégory Hallé Petiot
  • Department of Physical Education, Laval University, Quebec City, QC, Canada
  • Rodrigo Aquino
  • Department of Sports, Center for Physical Education and Sports, Federal University of Espírito Santo, Vitória, Brazil
  • Davi Correia da Silva
  • Post-Graduate Program in Exercise and Sport Sciences, Laboratory of Soccer Studies (LABESFUT), Rio de Janeiro State University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Davi Correia da Silva
  • Centro Universitário Governador Ozanam Coelho (UNIFAGOC), Ubá, Brazil
  • Daniel Vieira Barreira
  • Center of Research, Training, Innovation and Intervention in Sport, Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
  • Markus Raab
  • Institute of Psychology, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  • Markus Raab
  • School of Applied Sciences, London South Bank University, London, United Kingdom


Research in sport pedagogy and its applied recommendations are still characterized by a contrast between the different learning theories from psychology. Traditional theories and their corresponding approaches to the specific case of teaching and learning “how to play [team sports like soccer]” are subject to compatibilities and incompatibilities. We discuss how behaviorism as an approach to teaching the game shows more incompatibilities with the nature of tactical actions when compared to constructivism. As coaches strive to teach the game and make their players and team perform, we argue that teaching the game requires teaching approaches that will help develop their way to play (i.e., tactical behavior) without taking away their autonomy and adaptiveness. The teaching-learning-training process for playing the game should then be conducted to harmonize the characteristics of the contents, the context, and the individual(s) at hand. We provide two illustrated examples and portray how the recommended approaches fit key contents of the game that are observed in the tactical behavior. We finally argue that the coherent design of games provides minimal conditions to teaching approaches, and that such a design should be a priority when elaborating the learning activities along the player development process. As a conclusion, the interactionist theory is the one that best serves the teaching of the game and the development of tactical behavior. We therefore defend that its principles can help coaches tailor their own strategy to teach the game with the many tools.

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