Netherlands, Amsterdam

Football Behaviour Management

when 18 July 2020 - 1 August 2020
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 1150

Professional football (*European/soccer) organisations are curious in how they operate. In the past, such organisations would place heavy emphasis on entertainment, whereas in recent times, there has been a notable shift towards developing, signing, and trading the best players. With the dramatic increase in transfer fees, the organisations who best manage their finances are also those most likely to succeed. However, as the transfer fees increase, so do the risks. In many cases, the reward structures in place promote poor decisions. For that reason, it is essential to learn how rewards incentivise behaviour, and how we can promote the desired behaviour from football organisations whilst decreasing undesired behaviour within professional football clubs.

This course focusses on three fields of science:

1. Organisational Behaviour Management (OBM)
2. Viable System Model (VSM)
3. Cybernetic Big Five Theory (CB5T)

Organisational Behaviour Management is a sound practical application of behaviour analysis which was pioneered by Ivan Pavlov over a century ago. During the course, you will learn both classical conditioning according to the principles of Pavlov and operant conditioning according to the principles of Skinner. You will learn the principles and techniques of applied behaviour analysis (ABA). ABA is defined as the process of using systematic interventions derived from learning theory to improve socially significant behaviours, then demonstrating that those interventions are indeed responsible for the improvement.

Amongst the topics covered are the ABC model (antecedent-behaviour-consequence), the four behavioural consequences, and a protocol for shaping new behaviours. With a specific focus on professional football organisations, you will learn how to look for very particular behaviours of players with regards to the scouting and recruitment processes.

You will also learn how to model a professional football organisation according to the principles of the Viable System Model (VSM) in order to diagnose and optimise the management of the organisation. With VSM, you will learn how the team manager, sporting director, and head of recruitment can best communicate with one another. VSM teaches what channels to use within an organisation to promote desired behaviours and reduce undesired behaviours through the principles that OBM teaches us.

Finally, with the Cybernetic Big Five Theory, you will learn the necessary social skills needed to operate in the highly volatile environment that a professional football organisation can operate within. By learning how the dopamine reward system of the brain enables us to achieve our goals, you can combine knowledge of CB5T with the positive reinforcement of OBM to shape the organisation to your personal preference.

Course leader

Dr. Marius Rietdijk and Patrick Busby, international scout for Ajax, HSV and Brighton. Joost van der Leij, data scout for Heracles

Target group

This course is for students and professionals in the field of social, exact, or technical sciences who want to know more about changing organisational behaviour through positive reinforcement within professional football clubs. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please let us know. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore open to students and professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds.

Course aim

Upon completion of this course you should be able to:

● Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of organisational behaviour to achieve excellent results within a professional football organisation.
● Explain how OBM and ABA can help change organisational behaviour
● Show familiarity with the ABC model and ABC analysis.
● Discuss the main concepts in OBM/ABA and how they can help improve performance.
● Apply the OBM protocol to real-life behaviour.
● Model a professional football organisation with VSM.
● Use VSM to diagnose and optimise a professional football organisation.
● Use CB5T to understand people's needs, desires and goals.
● Understand how people’s needs, desires and goals can help an organisation achieve its goals.

Credits info

3 EC
45 contact hours. Do you want to make the most out of your summer? You can combine this course with a course in session 1 to create a 4-week Summer School in Amsterdam.

Fee info

EUR 1150: The tuition fee of a two-week course is €1150. This tuition fee includes:

- Airport pick-up service
- Course excursions
- Orientation programme and welcome
- On-site support and 24/7 emergency assistance
- A transcript of records and certificate of attendance after completing the course
- Meal vouchers to be spent at the university restaurant for either lunch or dinner
- A discounted access to our sport facilities


VU Amsterdam Summer School offers three kinds of scholarships: the Academic Scholarship, the Photographer Scholarship and the Vlogger/Videographer Scholarship. More information can be found on the VU Amsterdam Summer School website.

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