How can you be a better footballer

Game intelligence - football always starts in the head

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"Football always starts in the head and goes from there through the body to the feet, never the other way around."

Every game situation that a football player wants to successfully solve always requires the interaction of several factors and always begins with a tactical, game-intelligent decision.

Factors for solving a game situation

  • The player must first make a decision (tactics = game intelligence)
  • Then he has to perform a motor skill (technique)
  • This in turn requires movement (athletics)
  • And is always controlled by emotions (mental factors)

Image: Game intelligence factors

Numerous current scientific studies support the importance of game intelligence. A good 60% of all ball losses in football are due to errors in perception, understanding and decision-making. After the training methods of football in its 150-year history, the first 100 years initially extreme technically focused, a huge focus became on that in the early 1960s condition placed. After the "wave of fitness", training was extreme in the 80s Tactic focus. Football is now in a phase of improvement, mainly through Game intelligence can be achieved. This is because the aspect of game intelligence has so far been neglected and there is already a great deal of experience in the other areas.

The term game intelligence is currently on everyone's lips in football, regardless of whether it is about training young players or football at the highest level. The trends of the European Football Championship have also shown that game intelligence is more important than ever in modern football. Thanks to modern training theory, most teams meet at eye level physically, technically and tactically. Game intelligence must therefore be an integral part of training work from a young age in order to optimally train a football player.

A better physical condition or better technique is of little use to a footballer if he cannot use these elements intelligently for the benefit of his team. If a team does not have enough game-intelligent players, it becomes difficult to crack deep, athletically perfectly trained drop-offs, such as that of the Icelanders at the European Championship. Due to the enormous progress in training theory, excellent technical, tactical and physical training has become a matter of course for every player in modern football. Game intelligence therefore often makes the decisive difference between winning and losing.

Instead of just paying attention to the learning of technical and tactical elements in the training of young footballers, in addition to the muscles and nervous system, the head should be trained more than ever before. In this way, the full potential of a footballer is fully exploited. The more intelligent players there are on the field, the more likely it is that the game of football will be of a higher standard.

How exactly do I train the "game intelligence" factor?

The game intelligence in football is only partially dependent on genetic factors. In modern football training, game intelligence has to be trained much more through a variety of suitable exercises, for which special game forms and game models are required. Furthermore, it is very important to train the game intelligence in football through many free forms of play that are similar to street football.

Like everyone else, footballers have different levels of intelligence. Each position and assignment a player is given requires a different kind of game intelligence. The problems a goal player has to solve are different from those of a striker or a center-back. In addition to "trying things out for themselves", children and young people also learn a lot by watching ("Seeing once is better than hearing 1000 times"). The demonstration talent of a football coach is therefore very important. The following quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu illustrates an important point in learning new skills:


Tell me - and I'll forget. Show me - and I'll keep. Get involved - and I understand.

It is scientifically proven that children gain a lot of valuable experience through trying out and practicing. But if a child only had to get by with their own experiences, they would not be able to reach a high mental or motor level. This requires the experiences of adults who, with words and by showing, help the child to reach a high level. This applies not only to the different life situations, such as in the family or at school, but also for tactical thinking and behavior on the football field.

Football coaches are responsible for increasing the level of the game. This increase can only be achieved if games are offered in training in which perception, the correct analysis of a game situation and the correct intellectual solution of this game situation as well as the flawless technical execution of the planned game action are systematically trained. Footballers thus acquire the ability not only to understand a game situation correctly, but also to correctly anticipate its possible further development on the basis of the information recorded and processed. This ability to anticipate is always preceded by an optimal ability to perceive. In order to make the best possible use of this, the football technology must first be automated. As a result, the player has important capacities to be able to make intelligent and anticipatory decisions without constantly looking at the ball.

The acquisition of tactical knowledge and thus of game intelligence does not only come about through conscious and unconscious action in free play, but often only arises in connection with a targeted pedagogical process. In this process, the footballers should be given the opportunity, as early as their technical and tactical ability allows, to gain tactical knowledge and experience by thinking and acting independently. On the basis of this knowledge and experience, they can then deduce which behavior has which effect in which game situations.

The more this knowledge is acquired through observation, thinking and experimentation, the more it deepens. This is also a major reason that makes players like Xavi and Iniesta so strong. These world stars have played hundreds of games at the highest level and thus collected more and more knowledge in order to be able to make better and better decisions. Football is becoming more and more one "cognitive percentage game of knowledge".The more a player knows, the better he is. Motor and cognitive learning go hand in hand. In modern football training, technique and game intelligence should always be developed in complex forms of exercise. The coach confronts his players with situations close to the game in which they have to make a quick decision and translate this into motoric actions.

The development of the game intelligence of a young footballer is conditioned by the multitude of different stimuli and suggestions that he receives in training, but also in competition. With each new stimulus, a new connection is established between the many neurons. If the footballer is attentive and highly motivated at the time the stimulus is picked up, and is also interested and convinced of his or her abilities, this is the ideal starting point for the greatest possible learning effect.

The adaptation process that a complex and match-based football training triggers is called Teleonomy designated. Teleonomy is the scientific explanation for a purposeful and expedient behavior of organic systems, in which necessity and chance are connected with each other. This adaptation process makes it clear why every minute of practice and play makes a footballer better if exercises and forms of play are chosen that optimally promote game intelligence.

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