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The principle of variability in football training

Football is a very dynamic sport, full of uncertainty and constant change. Each match is unique, and the same situations are never repeated in the same playing context. Therefore, in order to prepare for the demands of a match, it is essential to train in variable situations. This approach is known as the principle of variability in football training.

What is variability in training football?

Variability in football training refers to the introduction of situations that are different and changing, in which players have to solve problems creatively and adapt to circumstances.

This means that, instead of always performing the same drills and repetitions of plays, coaches should design tasks that include a variety of game elements, such as the number of teammates, opponents, spaces, scoring, etc. thus always looking for the same content to appear in different playing situations.

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Why is variability important in training football?

Variability in training is relevant because, by training in different contexts, it promotes the development of skills and abilities that are applicable to real game scenarios. This is because in a football match, players face a variety of situations that require different skills and strategies, so it is essential that players are used to adapting to changing situations.

In addition, variability in football training can also help prevent boredom and stagnation in player development. When players always train in the same situations, they may lose interest or motivation for training. However, by varying the training contexts, we are always presenting them with a new challenge that can keep their attention and motivation.

The best training is that which manages to faithfully reproduce a situation so that the player who participates in it optimises certain systems that are unequivocally recognised as necessary to resolve the proposed situation“. (Seirul-lo Vargas)

How can variability be applied to football training?

There are different ways of using variability in football training, but one of the most effective is through the use of ‘global tasks’.

These activities include all elements of the game, such as teammates, opponents, the ball, among others, and are performed in situations as similar as possible to those encountered in a real (changing) match. In addition, global tasks allow players to work on different aspects of the game, such as technique, tactics, physical conditioning and mental concentration.

Another way of training in situations of variability is through ‘systemic tasks’. This type of didactic strategy is a training approach that seeks to improve the performance of a team or player through the improvement of the game model.

In this approach, it is understood that the individual performance of each player is related to the collective performance of the team. Therefore, tasks should be designed to reflect the base structure and the different dynamic organisations that the team carries out.


In summary, variability in football training is a fundamental concept for the development of skills and abilities that are applicable to real game situations. Therefore, coaches should design tasks that include a variety of game elements and different situations, as well as using global and systemic tasks to promote the holistic development of players.

Finally, training tasks that reflect real game situations and promote decision-making and problem-solving will be key to preparing players to face the challenges on the pitch. By implementing a varied and comprehensive training approach, coaches can help their players improve their ability to adapt to changing situations and make optimal decisions in real time, which can make all the difference in competition.

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