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#Ginga the hidden treasure behind world class performance

#Ginga the hidden treasure behind world class performance

Brazilian football is our preferred research vehicle because the unique environment within which Brazilian players develop expertise provides such rich, distinctive and influential constraints. To start with, Brazil is a large and populous country characterised by immense socio-cultural-economic diversity. Arguably, a common passion that seems to obsess Brazilians is association football (11-13). Alongside success, Brazilian footballers have also long been associated with a unique style of playing at a very high standard, which is, playing with Ginga (literal meaning: body sway). Academics, sports commentators and journalists have identified, explored, and romanticised the concept of Brazilian football style as graceful, joyful, artistic, flamboyant, expressed with wit and flair


Methodology Researcher as a Tool and as a Bricoleur Using the ontology of interpretivism, the direct and active involvement of researchers is a key characteristic. As a Brazilian himself, the first author acknowledged that his personal, cultural, and historical experiences inevitably shaped how he approached fieldwork, interacted with participants, and interpreted findings. To make sense of participants’ understanding of how football players in Brazil acquire relevant perceptual-motor skills, the first author inductively explored their perceived experiences, views and subsequently attempted to develop a coherent pattern of meanings from their insights. In doing so, his secondary aim was to develop a methodological and epistemological framework for investigating effects of socio-cultural-historical constraints on skill acquisition.

Bricolage supports an adequate multi-method approach that can inform the parameters of interpretive inquiry. In the context of Brazilian football these parameters include music, dancing, social inequalities, education, and even corruption, each of which are embedded in Brazilian culture. These socio-cultural constraints are important because they might affect skill acquisition within Brazilian football, leading players to infuse their movement coordination processes with unique characteristics such as the idea of playing with ginga (sway), flamboyance and flair. 


In Brazil, Malandragem can manifest itself through the ‘Ginga' (i.e., body sway) playing style in which footballers move deceptively to gain competitive advantages over opponents. Whilst the theatrical antics of contemporary Malandros (i.e., tricksters and/or streetwise persons), such as Neymar Junior, are frowned upon by many football critics, we argue that some aspects of being Malandro may be contributing to the development of a high level of perceptual-motor and cognitive functioning that has underpinned the Ginga playing style in Brazilian football for many decades.

Keywords: Skill; socio-cultural constraints; soccer, Bronfenbrenner’s macrosystem, sport, playing style

The psychology and sport science literature is replete with diverse theories and approaches purporting to explain how skills and expertise can be best developed in elite athletes. 

the power law of practice (Newell & Rosenbloom, 1981); deliberate practice (see Ericsson, 1996); deliberate play ( see Côté & Hay, 2002); teaching games for understanding movement (see Bunker & Thorpe, 1982); game sense (see den Duyn, 1997); small-sided and conditioned games (see Clemente et al., 2014); and the constraints-led approach (see Renshaw et al., 2016)


“Tell me about how you perceive the relationship between dance and Brazilian football?”

“Tell me how you perceive the effect of samba on the development of skills of Brazilian football players?”




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