Performance Behaviour[1]


In Action Theory actions are defined as goal-oriented skills and/or techniques. In korfball, technique is the execution of a decision. Therefore, the quality of the decision strongly influences the quality of the execution of the decision. When a player passes or assists the ball, it is about communication. Korfball is the ultimate communication sport.[2] The level of communication in the game is limited by the level of coordination (options of techniques) and cooperation of the players. In addition, the opponents will do everything they can to make communication fail. The latter is an important aspect of match pressure and is also known as communication.                                                                                        For example: The assister intends that the player receiving the assist takes a shot. The receiver of the ball will understand this by asking for the ball in a shooting position. The quality of the communication influences the quality of the assist. When the player is defended 1 on 1 and they are put under pressure, the assist may be of inferior quality and not correspond to the intention (e.g., a shot by the receiving player). Handling under pressure is normal in top matches. Move actions under extreme pressure can lead to failing. Failing in the task of assisting the ball to the shooter.  Under normal circumstances the assister can perform a simple task, like passing the ball, perfectly. However, when circumstances change, optimal performance can become affected. Actions like passing or assisting are then not purely motor processes (physical processes), or mental (psychological) processes.





Like all actions, korfball actions are complex. Korfball actions are interweaved communication (perception as a part of interaction = communication), decision-making and execution in a context specific to korfball. There is not a body and something else, e.g., brains. It is a player (a complex body) who must deal with korfball problems. The player consists of body parts, with the brain just as one of them. During play these different body parts go through all kinds of processes. In sport psychology and sport physiology these are described through general non-contextual knowledge. It is left to coaches and players to translate these knowledges in contextual language, korfball language during matches and training.

Top korfball is performed by players with high performance expectations under special circumstances, and with unexpected constraints by the opponents.                                                                 

Sometimes players get stuck in thoughts due to consecutive misses. To illustrate, during the last Korfbal League competition 2020-2021 a female player of one of the top teams, was unable to convert from penalties she won. Time after time she failed from 2.50 metres. She adapted her technique, but without success. The coach, as well as her teammates were obviously unable to help her successfully complete what is a simple task. However, in a match a simple task comes with pressure, and it can become a difficult task. In important matches players are exposed to performance pressures and uncertainties. Players then look for solutions that enable them to handle the tension and stress adequately. Routines can be one way of coping. When taking a penalty, a pre-performance routine that leads to calmness, better concentration, and fewer thoughts, is desirable. For example, the player can take a deep breath and visualise the throw before the penalty shot.                                                                                                                                                                    

Top korfball players can mostly handle this high pressure. They learn to cope with this pressure to perform better through simulating the context of difficult and unexpected situations in training sessions and practice matches. Coaches are then required to design context specific scenarios for these trainings, and practice matches.

Scenario trainings

“A group of researchers from Amsterdam propose an intermediate solution: train under pressure. In a series of studies, the group of researchers showed in various sports (basketball, darts, pistol shooting) that even mild forms of pressure during training could prevent sports performance from deteriorating under stressful conditions. In a recent study with police officers, Nieuwenhuys and Oudejans[3] showed that beneficial effects of training under pressure can also be expected in the long term.”

In Competition as an essential characteristic of sport[4] Professor N van Yperen writes:

“Sport is a typical zero-sum situation: you compete against one or more others, and in the end you either win or you lose. Although sometimes you can also draw or feel like a winner by finishing on the podium of honour, or you can qualify for a tournament or championship without finishing first. But even these outcomes are achieved by competing with others. Recognising that competition is central to sport, that sport is about winning and losing, is an essential starting point in the mental coaching of athletes. Competitive outcomes are partly determined by opponents, so athletes have limited control over these outcomes. This is mentally problematic, also because athletes feel responsible for their outcomes, which they are also judged on, by themselves and by others. And the more important the outcome for the athlete, such as in qualification matches and finals, the more likely it is that the lack of control manifests itself in performance pressure and possibly match anxiety (Baumeister, 1984; Weisinger & Pawliw-Fry, 2015). This does not imply, however, that performance pressure should be seen as something negative. Performance pressure also means that you can realise a goal that is important to you, or to fulfil a long-cherished wish or dream: 'Pressure is nothing more than the shadow of great opportunity' (Johnson, 1996, pp.179-180). Indeed, when you want something, you are vulnerable. You want it to go well, and you do not want it to go wrong. For some, that is winning a final, for others it is successfully completing a driving test, a heart operation, a concert, a job interview, a care programme, a speech, an audition, or a course, or successfully organising a festival, a family reunion, a charity event, or a reorganisation. Specific to the sports context is that athletes voluntarily seek out the performance pressure and associated tension (Moran & Toner, 2017).”

The Korfball League final is the end of the competition in the Netherlands, and the ‘highlight’ of the competition.

If you can take part in it, then coaches and players have almost achieved the highest goal in korfball: becoming champions of the Netherlands. Coaches and players (top korfball players) of the Korfball League think about how they can become champions of the Netherlands. What they need to do and do not need to do achieve this. They make choices that, in the longer term, give them a chance of reaching their highest goal.

Coaches and players set goals together, for the short term (e.g., shoot better) and for the long term (e.g., become champions of the Netherlands or become an international player). It is important to set goals, because then coaches and players know what they are doing.  That is important for the willingness to work hard (intrinsic motivation) and always go on, even after setbacks, such as a serious injury.  

An example is a player from PKC who chose to join PKC in 2019. She set themselves several goals: succeed as a player at PKC 1, become an international player, and achieve the highest goal, to win the Dutch championship. Early in her career with PKC she suffered a serious knee injury. This started a long road to rehabilitation. She did everything to reach her goals. One step at a time, always looking forward to reaching her goals, think action and think next action. She came back after a layoff of 12 months and aided by her perseverance they would become champion of the Netherlands with PKC in April 2021. The psychological language, motivation, mental toughness, and resilience informed the choice of actions to reach her long-term goals become Dutch korfball champion.


Match and communication

Playing a korfball match is based on the rules of teamwork. Solo play is not allowed.  As described in 'Korfball Theory' and 'Korfball Coaching Theory', communication is an important feature of the game. Players want to implement a game plan together. The opponent also wants to realise their game plan with counterplay. (e.g., Attack - Defence; Passing the ball – Intercepting the ball) Players play with each other and against each other. There is verbal and non-verbal communication between the teammates and the opponents. The attacker runs free and asks for the ball. The team-mate perceives this and passes him the ball. Almost all korfball actions are by nature two-way traffic. In top korfball in one zone there are eight players who communicate by their actions simultaneously.


 Coach – Player’s communication

The communication between coach and players takes place in different settings. In the Netherlands, the top teams train three to four times a week and during the weekend there will be the match.

Before or after training and before the match, meetings are held. The pre-match meeting, the post-match meeting and the pep talk before the match with a rehearsal of what was agreed. Before and after meetings are illustrated with the help of video images. Each meeting has its own objective. The content of the meetings is different. The pre-match meeting is about how to implement a play plan (feed-forward, what is the next step). The post-match meeting is about the way of executing the game plan in the match.  (feed-back, how we did the match).  A pep talk is about getting players to focus on their task (feed-up, what is the purpose). Every meeting is intended to improve the match performance.

When the coach and the players want to achieve development goals, it is necessary to communicate effectively. Effective communication is essential for the development and performance of the players. Theses communication meetings are a different nature from the interaction of the players in the match.

The message, the content of the process between coach and players can be sent in different ways: face-to-face, verbal, non-verbal, by email, using video footage. The coach is always the leader of the processes of the meetings. But the input of the players is especially important at these meetings.

Strategies for effective communication

Communication is effective when the message is received by the players as intended by the coach.   A few aspects contribute to effective communication in a team:     

·         Actively listening to players

·         Openness and transparency towards each other

·         Support and encouragement  

·         Being vulnerable as a coach, exposing yourself                                                                    

Understanding your players is of great importance.

It is important that the coach understands who the players are and how they communicate. The coach observes and describes in concrete terms w Com hat communication behaviour the players display in different situations, persons, and contents and how they adapt their communication to the requirements of the different situations, contents, and persons. In this way the coach gains a better insight into where the players can become even stronger and which forms of communication can be most suitable.


The coach provides task- and goal-oriented feedback.

With the right feedback at the right time, a player can develop and perform even better. Also, for feedback, the coach chooses consciously the medium and moment. Three types of feedback are:

·         Appreciation and compliments 

·         Coaching. You better do it.

·         Evaluation. Yes, it is like this.

It sometimes happens that the player expects coaching but receives an evaluation. Feedback will then not be properly received. Receiving feedback can be difficult for the player. When a player is addressed about what he does, it naturally evokes a reaction. The player may feel threatened in his self-image. That is why it is important not to focus feedback on who the player is, but on their behaviour. The coach describes how he perceives the player and indicates how it comes across to him. The coach then explains what the desired behaviour looks like. Therefore, it is important that the coach creates an atmosphere where the player feels safe to speak out. The coach makes a conscious choice for the moment and for which type of conversation. A bad news conversation must be scheduled in advance and the coach does face-to-face.

The training

The training (teaching-learning process) is also fundamental communication, but in a different setting and therefore of a different nature. Training is another context than playing the match. The training (teaching-learning process) is the process in which the players acquire skills and knowledge, like match communication, decision making en execution. Each training must be match-like. A training without pressure is not match-like. The training sessions must be arranged in such a way that competitive goals are achieved in match form. The coach is the most important factor in the training. He needs certain coaching competences to ensure quality and effectiveness within this learning process. He must provide a clear explanation, in which one solution strategy is central. He must also constantly check that the players understand. He also gives an activating instruction. Another competency is that the coach must be task-oriented and result-oriented. And it is important that the training is adjusted to the differences between the players. All these elements are part of training and influence the quality of performance in the match.

Thinking frame for Performance Behaviour[5]

In finals, teams often do not reach their best performance. Also, the Korfbal League final of 2021 PKC against Fortuna was not the best korfball match, although exciting. The potential performance did not really come out at the time. This is called performance loss. Several factors that can cause this are nervousness, tension, and cramping; distraction and lack of concentration, or over concentration; negative thoughts and doubt; too much focus on the result instead of the task. Every week top korfball teams work on improving their personal performance and the joint team performance. This performance must be potentially achievable in every match. (potential performance). But if this potential performance is not achieved, there is a loss of performance. Van Yperen illustrates this frame as follows:

Performance = Potential Performance minus Performance Loss

To determine whether mental factors are really the explanatory factors for disappointing performances, the performance loss, the players must be honest with themselves and try to find out what their thoughts and emotions were at the crucial moments. Insight into the possible causes offers starting points for an action plan with the aim of reducing, and preferably preventing, recurrence. The risk of performance loss is greater the more dependent it is on communication, knowledge (game insight), and concentration, as in sports such as korfball. The coach should be the first to help with this.

In training sessions, the coach and players focus on preventing performance loss. It is about preventing performance loss, i.e., learning and strengthening korfball actions to demonstrate what the players have in them at the moment supreme. Also important is their motivation, discipline, and passion to achieve performance gains. Top teams achieve performance gains partly through their mental skills. Creating the right mindset to perform optimally in the matches where the highest is achievable. If players do what they know and can do at the right time, there will be no loss of performance.

Perceived causes of success and failure

Think or just do it?

The finalist’s PKC and Fortuna[6] both want to become champions. It is therefore necessary to devise and train a good playing plan during the preparation, a week before the final. That can only go well if all players make the performance manageable and controllable. It helps if coach and players go through the strategy for this match together, such as visualizing tasks. The final battle is open in advance. Both teams will have to prepare for that special match in going through routines together. The true champions are based on their own strength. To perform well, the players' attention must be fully focused on the familiar tasks when playing the match. The tasks of the players must be clear in both attack and defence. Coaches and players are well aware of the opponent's strengths and weaknesses and prepare for them. Everything is planned and thought through.  But also, during the final match it is necessary that all players keep thinking. Often the attack game seems to happen almost automatically. The skills and agreements are practiced during the training and are apparently performed automatically. However, it may still be necessary to switch to a different strategy. For example, let the female players attack more and the men roles more in the support positions. Thinking is necessary in defensive actions. Because the concentration that is needed to keep the attackers from scoring does not arise automatically. Are we going to play back-defence and how do we switch to front-defence? How is the personal opponent 1 on 1 defended? Following the attacker everywhere? It concerns specific control tasks, which is what the defenders' strategy focuses on.

Dealing with winning and losing

Playing the final in Ahoy Rotterdam is a special event in times without the coronavirus, Covid-19. The two finalists finished the competition in sports halls close to their clubhouse. For this, the teams put in the effort, a competition long, 22 games, from November to mid-April, week after week. Then comes the highlight. Korfball enthusiasts in the Netherlands want to be there. Ahoy is completely sold out, 10,000 spectators are present. The match will be broadcast live on national TV. Eyecons also reports. Many newspapers have interviewed the affected players and coaches. The tension is greater than ever. Who will be champion of the Netherlands? Team performance is under pressure.

The winner celebrates. They are the best korfball team in the Netherlands. They write history. Champions can be credited with successes. "We worked really hard for it, we forced the luck, we were just better”. That makes them feel good, it makes them proud and satisfied and it gives them self-confidence. And that can then lead to new successes, provided the explanations are realistic and do not lead to overestimation.

The losing team looks for explanations for the loss. "Why did we lose? What went wrong? Could we have prevented this?" Often the explanation of the loss is sought outside the sphere of influence of the players and coach. Such as difficult circumstances, bad referee, too much noise, etc.

However, it is better to honestly look for explanations for the failure. An honest search must lead to the true reason for loss. This must lead to factors. that coach and players can really control. The goal is to deal imperturbably as possible with undesirable events, only putting energy into important controllable factors. It is pointless to complain when a penalty is missed out or the teammate passes the ball or That is then done and that cannot be changed anymore. If you are dealing with uncontrolled factors often the explanation of the loss is sought outside the sphere of influence of the players and coach. Such as difficult circumstances, bad referee, too much noise, etc.

However, it is better to honestly look for explanations for the failure. An honest search must lead to the true reason for loss. This must lead to factors. that coach and players can really control. The goal is to deal imperturbably as possible with undesirable events, only putting energy into important controllable factors. It is pointless to complain when a penalty is missed, or when a teammate passes the ball out or a defender takes too much risk. That is then done and that cannot be changed anymore. If you are dealing with uncontrollable factors as a team, you only have control over how you react to them.

[1] Sport psychology is the science of knowledge on the mental aspects of sport and performance. These mental aspects are referred to as ‘Performance Behaviour’ in the Netherlands by NOC*NSF. “Performance behaviour in order to effectively deal with the challenges athletes face on their way to the top, athletes need to have behaviour that contributes to development and maximum performance.”


[2] See articles: “Korfball Theory” and “Korfball Coaching Theory”.

[3] Nieuwenhuys, A., & Oudejans, R.R.D. (2011). Training with anxiety: short- and long-term effects on police officers’ shooting behavior under pressure. Cognitive Processes, 12, 277-288.

[4] Van Yperen (2018) Mentale aspecten van sport en presteren

[5] The following is based on texts by Nico.W van Yperen:  Focus, confidence resilience and other mental aspects of sport and performance, 2021 Arko sports Media, Nieuwegein.

[6] Final Korfbal League match 16 April 2021 PKC – Fortuna, Ahoy Rotterdam



Chinese version by ZHAO JingJammy

: PKC – TOP  3 April 2021 Result 21- 22

2021.04.03 PKC-TOP  比分21-22

See: https://eyecons.com/videos/pkc-top-english-commentary-8265

After the game, the coach looks at the line-ups and performances and the statistics.


Top's women were more effective (12 goals and 33 attempts => 30%) than those of PKC (7 goals and 37 attempts = <20%). The PKC men were more effective (14 goals and 67 attempts => 20% than those of TOP (10 goals and 70 attempts = 14%)





Other interesting figures are:  其他相关数据








Men/women goals. + Attempts women



Rebound won/ lost



PKC 1e attack


11:22 minutes


4/4 + 16


PKC 2e attack


12:17 minutes


10/3 + 21


TOP 1e attack


11:03 minutes


5/9 + 31


TOP 2e attack


13:10 minutes


5/3 + 11








Total PKC




14/7 + 37

40/ 56

Total TOP




10/12 + 42




The distribution of the attempts by the players within the zones is also interesting:


PKC  1e attack: Leeuwenhoek 2 goals 16 attempts.  (Total: 8/47)                      

PKC 第一进攻方Leeuwenhoek216出手。(总计:8/47                                                                            PKC 2e attack: Jonker: 9 goals 28 attempts; van der Werff: 3 goals 13 attempts!  (Total: 13/57)

PKC 第二进攻Jonker928出手van der Werff313出手!(总计:13/57

Top 1e attack: Split 4 goals 19 attempts; Brouwer: 5 goals 12 attempts.   (Total: 14/55)  

TOP第一进攻Split 419出手Brouwer512出手(总计:14/55                                                              TOP 2e attack: Snel 4 goals 19 attempts. (Total: l8/38)  

TOP第二进攻方Snel 419出手。(总计:l8/38

After this summary, it is time to look at the video again.


The 1e attack of PKC plays many times 2 – 2. The passing (from the post) is sloppy.  There were 8 attacks without a shot! Besides that, Kunst and Leeuwenhoek lost too many rebounds. The attacks of PKC are too predictable, too direct. Also, PKC 2e attack: Jonker was the man who should score He did it. Jonker was served this way. He was able to shoot (28 X) through excellent rebounds from van Wijngaarden and later Kunst.  After the line-up has been changed: van Wijngaarden on Snel there was a better balance. Kunst played with Jonker and was able to win his rebounds. Pity that Leeuwenhoek (playing with van Wijngaarden) shoot imprecisely.

PKC第一进攻方多次执行22。传球(篮下传出)很马虎。有8进攻没有投篮就失误!除此之外,Kunst Leeuwenhoek丢掉了太多的篮板PKC进攻太直接太容易预测。另外,PKC第二进攻方 Jonker做到了主攻手应该做的事情-得分。他能够通过van WijngaardenKunst 的出色篮板而获得28次以上的投篮。在阵容改变之后:van Wijngaarden对位Snel在该位置上有了更好的平衡。KunstJonker一组,并赢得了篮板。可惜Leeuwenhoek命中率不高

The 1e attack of TOP plays also 2-2 but the first pass out of the post is not always an assist. They use the pass from the post as a start-up, the next pass is a wide pass to reach the potential shooter and if possible and needed, they double or they go with a long pass to Pikaar (the triangle). They transist to 3-1. This triangle, they play is done with a high tempo. The defenders who are often expecting an early shot and are watching this communication, are surprised. (Brouwer and Split and sometimes Pikaar).

In the 2e attack of TOP is Snel every match the key figure, the key to success. (Sometimes is Hendriks important.) During this match she was less important. She is seen as a top defender.

TOP第二进攻(第)执行2-2,但从篮下出的第一个球并不都是助攻。他们利用从球柱的球作为开始,下面延续一个传球潜在的投篮者,如果还需要的话,他们double或长传Pikaar(三角)。他们执行三角传球的节奏很快。这样的进攻使期待TOP尽早投篮的防守者们意想不到。(BrouwerSplit,有时是Pikaar)。斯内尔是TOP第二进攻方和每场比赛的关键人物,他是成功的关键。( 有时Hendriks很重要)在这场比赛中,她没有那么重要。她被视为顶级防守者

The weak positions of TOP are Flokstra as defender. Leeuwenhoek showed that he can set himself free. Leeuwenhoek showed also that Flokstra is weak when you can go for the running in. Verheugt is in most matches responsible for one goal. Give her that goal not more but the girl who defends Verheugt can help by squeezing to ball lines.

TOP的弱势位置是 Flokstra的防守Leeuwenhoek证明了他可以轻松获得自由位置Leeuwenhoek可以获得切入机会时表明Flokstra的防守虚弱。在大多数比赛中,Verheugt只能得一分。不要再被她得分,防守Verheugt的女孩可以通过压迫球线来改善

Split is not a good defender. In the new line up she will defend Hintzbergen. Hintzbergen can get profit when she double with van der Werff. Hintzbergen is also a good shooter!

Split不是个好防守者。在新的阵容中,她将防守HintzbergenHintzbergen可以通过和van der Werff double传球来获利。Hintzbergen也是一个好投篮者








Next match: TOP – PKC 10th april


PKC should break the tempo of attack TOP. Especially the attack of Pikaar; Mostard; Split; Brouwer.   If you want to break the tempo then you must play front defence and break the long ball lines. So, pressure on ball lines and long running lines.  This can be trained this week. If Kunst play on Pikaar he cannot look at the ball when he is playing with the back to the ball. His task is only pressure on Pikaar. No look after a shot. Jonker has more chances to look and to win / intercept the ball.

PKC应该打破TOP进攻的节奏。特别是Pikaar c.s.的进攻,如果你想打破节奏,那么你必须利用在前防守来破坏传球线。所以,压迫球线和长距离移动路线。这周可以训练。如果 Kunst防守Pikaard且背对球不能看球时。他的任务只是对Pikaard施压投篮后不要回头看球Jonker有更多的机会去看球,并且赢得/拦截球。

Van der Werff and Hintzbergen must improve with the help of their colleagues. PKC really must defend now and play strictly 1 on 1 against Brouwer and Split. Van der Werff and Hintzbergen have one task: defend 1 on 1! Snel Is also particularly important. He needs van Wijngaarden in the 1 on 1, he cannot use his power.  But van Wijngaarden should also play 1 on 1. Leeuwenhoek should do the interceptions.

Van der WerffHintzbergen必须在同伴的帮助下提高PKC现在必须进行严格11防守对抗BrouwerSplitVan der WerffHintzbergen有一个任务:一对一防守!Snel也特别重要。他需要van Wijngaarden11防守时限制他的力量。但van Wijngaarden11防守时Leeuwenhoek去拦截/抢球

That has consequences for the line-up. The MOST IMPORTANT preferences: van Wijngaarden plays with Leeuwenhoek. And Hintzbergen en van der Werff on Brouwer and Split.

这会对阵容产生影响。最重要的建议van WijngaardenLeeuwenhoek一组Hintzbergen van der Werff 防守 Brouwer Split

TOP 1e attack 一攻方


PKC 1e defence 守方







Brouwer (right side is her preference)




Split (right side is her preference)


Van der Werff

TOP 2e attack 二攻方


PKC 1e attack 攻方

Van Wijngaarden






Hendriks  (left hander)




Verheugt (left hander)




Front defence means strict 1 on 1 in all positions. Split and Brouwer attacks are important and must locked down. The vocal coaching in defence must improve.


Attack PKC:

PKC should play more and more 3-1. Passing in short lines and variation in long lines and take more time during the building up.


Communication in attack is understanding and timing. Sometimes it is better to make decisions for easy passing. Only when a player can surprise his defender he needs long passing. The rebound position is particularly important. This can be an attacking position. From this position ‘the rebounder’ can set himself free when he perceives that the front defender is focussing outside.  Some attackers like Leeuwenhoek and van der Werff should make their shots when there is no rebound.

进攻中的沟通是理解意图和时机。有时候,简单传球更好做决定。只有当一个球员长传球能让他的防守者感到惊讶。篮板位置尤为重要。这可能是进攻位置。从这个位置上说,卡位者可以在他意识到在前防守者专注于外围进攻时,让自己获得自由位置。一些像Leeuwenhoekvan der Werff这样的进攻者可以在没有篮板保障的时候投篮。

Rebounding is a task for every attacker after a shot. Dividing the zones around the post. Also, the shooter should immediately go for the rebound after his shot.