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CreaBros Oy: Improvement


Mar 23, 07:19 PM

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of substituting as a coach for a girls soccer team. I used to coach them when one of my daughters played with that team and now got called back when their current coach had other engagements.

We practiced shielding and passing under pressure, some fitness and few other common things that are done in soccer practice. I think that the girls enjoyed the practice. For me it was fun to see how they had progressed after my departure.

I have a habit of procrastinating in the morning and let my alarm snooze many times before getting up. I usually think about what I’m going to do that day or next few days or if I’m working on a problem that needs to be solved with logic instead of persistent trial and error. This morning I started first to think about Trie search trees, that are one solution to the problem I’m working on, and how they could be packed fairly efficiently so the memory consumption would be reasonable but we wouldn’t lose all of the efficiency. In Wikipedia there are few links to such solutions such as DAG where we make a directional acyclic graph of the nodes etc. Other solution is to take the hardware architecture into account and design the iterations so that they fit into processor cache.

Anyway after a while I got tired of trying to imagine data structures, algorithms that iterate them and O values for them and started thinking about the practice I had held. The drill was simple, one player has a ball and shields it from second one that tries to take it from the first and third one is free. When the first player is able she plays the ball to the free player and now the free player shields the ball and second player tries to take it. It started to bother me that the player who shielded the ball is in a way out of the game after the pass and also that there was no direction to the drill. So even though the kids liked to wrestle each other for the ball and everybody got a good workout the drill could have been much better. Difficulty is that when we increase complexity it is easy to lose track of what we are measuring, but when we make things too simple it has no correlation in the real world.

So the drill now taught not to let the opponent get the ball. Free player was taught to move so that ball could be passed to her and the defender was taught to wrestle ball to herself. This drill lacked a basic element, however. What should happen after the free player receives the ball? My original thought was that well the free player passes the ball back and we try to shield again and then rotate. Girls found this unnatural and changed the drill autonomously so that the defender moved to pressure the player with the ball. This made the drill work much better, but still it lacked the basic element of the game, which is progression towards the goal. In a way the girls modified the drill to typical ineffective passing that happens in intermediate and beginner games i.e. ball is passed, because coach told us to pass and that person happened to be in my view. Usually situation after the pass degenerates, because pass is not accurate, player is too close and receivers ability to get the ball moving is not high enough to improve the situation.

In a way the problems weren’t that different from my original thought how to improve the algorithms with all the trade offs. If I make the algorithm more complex do I still understand it so I can run tests on its efficiency? On the other hand if I make simple algorithms does it actually represent the real solution and do my measurements reveal how the final implementation will work? I like to experiment so I think I’ll write a more complex version and see how it fares against the fast but memory hog. I will have to make few versions. In the end it might be best to use sorted vector and quick search.

I didn’t come to any conclusions how the practice with the girls should be solved or how my search should be done. Many ideas some good some bad. The main thing is actually the process of thinking how I could have done more with same effort. Perhaps the players could have played a wall pass. Then the first attacker would have had to sprint past the defender after the pass. Would that have worked? With my minds eye I can see how I think it will work, but I won’t know until I test it in practice.

Kalle Kuismanen




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