FOOTBALL GAME INTELLIGENCE
How to develop football game intelligence through the learning and teaching process?
To ensure frequent victories today, it is absolutely necessary to develop complete players. They must have an excellent technical ability, physical fitness and tactical knowledge; they must also be mentally prepared. But, there is one more aspect of the development of a complete football player that have not been considered or stimulated sufficiently in training to bring the game to a superior level. That is the development of game intelligence in football.
Game intelligence is the quality that allows a player to recognize and adapt to situations on the football pitch quickly in the high pressure atmosphere of the match. However, the development of the intellectual capacities of the players is still in its very beginning, because of the authoritarian teaching style preferred by the vast majority of coaches. For instance, the frequent instructions that the players receive from the coaches before the game, during the game and during the training sessions.
The way to improve your players and the play itself is to begin a systematic development of tactical awareness and thinking from a very early age with an emphasis on a progressive stimulation of perceptive and intellectual capacities.
How to teach the players to think on their own when playing the game?
The children gain a variety of experiences through observing, practicing and experimenting. Then, they interpret these experiences when encountered with different and challengeable situations during the game. Here, the role of the coach is to guide the child and help him to interpret experiences properly, otherwise the child will never reach his full potential. So, the coaches need to offer advice, to give examples and to question almost everything.
Every coach should ask himself, what is the best way for the children to acquire tactical habits? The answer is very simple. All young players should be exposed as soon as possible during training to simplified games in order to acquire football knowledge and specific experience.
However, subjective experiences alone are insufficient. The acquisition of knowledge is much better when it is the result of a well-proven pedagogical process where the coach uses questions and demonstrations to develop the specific knowledge. An explanation or demonstration, stimulation, advice and encouragement by the coach will form a solid foundation in the youngster’s mind for the development of game intelligence. How to further build on this foundation is through appropriate number of repetitions of the same game situation and then transfer of the solution to similar situations that happen in the game.
Training methodology to develop game intelligence
Coaches must use the global rather than analytic method. The players should be exposed to a series of technical-tactical simplified games like 2v1, 3v2 or 3v1. Practising simplified games over and over again every player will face and resolve a series of problems that should be shaped perfectly to his physical, technical and mental abilities. Bellow will be outlined a couple of games and progressive exercises that will aid the development of player’s tactical thinking and awareness step by step until he, with the coach’s guidance, has discovered a number of solutions for every situation confronted in a football game. The solution can be figured out through spontaneity, imagination, creativity or through frequent repetition of a similar situation in training.
The ability for flexibility in a previously learned skill is only possible when the player has been exposed to a systematic development of his intellectual capacity from a very early age right through to a top performance level. Good perception, an understanding of game situations and good decision making, culminates in a good technical execution of the mentally prepared move. All these phases of the playing action must be coached over a period of years in order to be able to raise the performance level of any player.
The game intelligence is a very important aspect in football. If you want to stimulate game intelligence you as a coach must stop giving instructions and commands before, during and after the match. Coaches must understand that instructing all the time would prevent the players in developing their intelligence. Furthermore, instead of providing solutions to the problems to the players, coaches should confront the players in training with a variety of problems to be sort out by themselves.
In order to get more intelligent players with awareness and responsibility, coaches must stop with the rigid and authoritarian coaching style as well as to start to stimulate the players more and instruct less.
Developing game intelligence means teaching the players to:
- Execute a previously devised solution quickly and with an appropriate skill level;
- Read the game and understand what is happening on the pitch;
- Draw on past experiences when confronting any given situation to come to a correct decision.
Intelligent players are capable of reading situations within the game as well as anticipating how the play is likely to develop thanks to previous information. The quality to anticipate, as a result of good decision making and perception, is a significant tool for intelligent players. Nobody has an inborn high level of game intelligence. In order to develop the innate potential, you have to expose your players every day to a progressive training program with simplified games. Not only can simplified games develop game intelligence in player, but also improve the tactical and technical skills.
In part 2 will be explained what game intelligence looks like and how to use effective questioning in order to improve your players and enhance their performance.