Football Behavior Management Course

How does one become a scout? Or a technical director of a football club? There really isn’t a course you can take for that. That is what we want to change with our Football Behavior Management (FBM) course. In 2020 together with the VU-university of Amsterdam we organize two editions of the FBM course. The first edition is a summer school targeted mainly at students, but professionals are also very welcome. The second edition is spread out over the 20/21 season. Both editions are delivered at the VU-university.

The main idea is to combine relevant scientific theory with practical know-how of professionals working as a scout, technical director or player agent. To make sure that the course is both relevant and fun to attend, we organize the course in such a way that it is as if you are part of a virtual club and already working as a scout for that virtual club. During the course you go and find new talent, apply the relevant scientific theories to your findings and present the talent you find to the decision makers of the virtual club.

The scientific part of the course will consist of:

  1. Organizational Behavior Management (OBM). OBM is the most scientific way to bring the best out of people. OBM is targeted at work within organizations. So OBM is the best tool to optimize the workings of a club. Yet, the same principles that brings the best out of employees of the club, also brings the best out of players and the technical staff.
  2. Cybernetic Big Five Theory (CB5T). CB5T is the most scientific way of looking at personality. Again, CB5T is a great tool to make sure you deeply understand the people you work with. Yet, it is also a great tool to understand the personalities of the players of the club. CB5T enables you to check whether a potential player fits within the team. And CB5T helps understand and optimize the relationships between the players and the technical staff.
  3. Triangulation. The Triangulation model of communication explains why you always need three points to understand anything. In terms of football: the player, the manager and the game itself. Triangulation also explains why there are two modes of communication: (a) to clarify and (b) to influence. To work as a scout or a technical director you need both to be able to clarify why a potential player is the right choice and be able to influence the decision makers to make the right decision.
  4. Viable System Model (VSM). VSM is a cybernetic approach to organizations. As we are already using cybernetics with CB5T it is only natural to also include VSM. VSM is the most scientific way to model an organization and hence also a football club. The VSM model of the club allows you to diagnose the club for known weaknesses and revitalize the club by optimizing its structure.
  5. Bayesian statistics. A lot of decisions that you need to take as a scout or technical director are clouded in uncertainty. Bayesian statistics is the most scientific way of dealing with uncertainty. For that reason during the course, you learn how to create your own Bayesian models and network to support your decision making as a scout or technical director.

We ourselves use these five scientific theories for finding the best players for clubs. Take for instance the case of Adrian Dalmau. We found Adrian Dalmau while he was still an unknown striker playing in Spain. On our advice Heracles hired Adrian Dalmau whose contract had ended so no transfer fee was paid. Using our Bayesian model we predicted that Adrian Dalmau would be worth 1.75 million euro to Heracles one year later. Adrian Dalmau became the #3 top scorer of the Eredivisie that year and indeed he was transferred to FC Utrecht for the amount of 700.000 euro and the transfer of Cyriel Dessers from FC Utrecht to Heracles. Cyriel Dessers was valued at that time for 1 million euro. At the moment of this writing Cyriel Dessers is #2 top scorer in the Eredivisie and valued at 1.5 million euro.

Trainers of the Football Behavior Management course

The following people are involved in delivering the FBM course:

Dr. Marius Rietdijk

Photo of M.M. Rietdijk
Dr. Marius Rietdijk

Associate Professor Marius Rietdijk is the coördinator of the FBM course. His field is OBM. He teaches OBM at the VU-university and he is the scientific director of the Aubrey Daniels Research Institute for Behavior Analysis (ADRIBA) of the VU-university. Marius Rietdijk is making sure that everything that is taught in the FBM course is scientifically grounded.

Joost van der Leij

Joost van der Leij is a VU-university certified OBM trainer/coach. Joost van der Leij has also developed the Bayesian models for data scouting that we use to find the right players. His predictive Bayesian player model has predicted the results of the Eredivisie with an 81% correlation, establishing a very strong relationship between the FBM stats of individual players and the results of the team they play for. Together with Patrick Busby he has written a book on football statistics (the Dutch title is “Voetbalstatistiek”). Besides the book on football statistics he has written over twenty other books among them a book on Cybernetic Big Five Theory, Triangulation and Bayesian statistics. Joost will deliver most of the scientific topics and data scouting. Joost is working for FC Twente as a data scout.

Patrick Busby

Patrick Busby is the head of scouting for FC Twente. Patrick Busby has over 25 years of experience as a scout. Patrick Busby is known for having made possible the transfer of Rafael van der Vaart to Real Madrid. Patrick Busby has worked for FC Groningen, Ajax, HSV and Brighton. Patrick will deliver the classes on how to become a scout.

Besides these lecturers, there will also be guest appearances of a video scout, a player agent, and a director for a football club when we can fit this program into their schedule.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor abc model

Programme for the Football Behavior Management course

As explained the programme will be a mix of scientific theory and practical know-how. The programme takes 10 days and is structured in such a way that during those 10 days you immediately apply what you learned to the real world. At the start of the course you look for talent. During the course you apply the scientific theory to the talent you found in order to clarify why this player is such a talent. At the end of the course you present the talent you have found to Patrick Busby and Joost van der Leij who play the role of the decision makers at the virtual club. In this sense the whole 10 days are as if you work for a real club.

The location of both editions is: VU-university, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam.

The dates for the summer school are: July 18th till July 29th (in the weekend you are free to enjoy Amsterdam). The fee for the FBM course summer school is 1150 euro ex. VAT. You can only sign up for the summer school edition of the FBM course through the VU-university directly here: sign up form VU-university summer school (sign up form will be live early 2022). To be clear: the summer school is targeted primarily at students, yet professionals are very welcome too. Please check the information at the VU-university website to see the entry requirements.