Soccer involves speed and it’s not only speed of play that is essential. Speed of thought is just as important as soccer is not all about athleticism. The best players in the world have both — speed of their feet and speed of thought. Being able to know what to do and react accordingly will lead one to become the best soccer player that they can be. Though soccer requires that you have the right physicality to perform a great game of soccer, the whole game can be very simple if you have speed of thought. Even older players can still keep up with younger and stronger players if they have speed of thought.
How to increase your speed of thought in soccer? Here are some few tips to help you develop and achieve just that:
First is anticipate. You have to understand and be able to read the game, playing and tactical situations, and player characteristics. You can achieve this through constant practice and game experience. Anticipate the trajectory of the ball and know how your teammates and opponents will react to certain situations. You can only achieve this through experience so play as many scrimmages and games as you can so you can develop your anticipation ability.
Second is recognition. Recognize and determine where your teammates and opponents are, what is happening in front, behind, and within your peripheral vision, and the conditions of the pitch and the weather as well. If the pitch isn’t level, then you should know that passing a ground ball will have a difference with its direction so pass a high ball instead. If you know your teammates are being marked, then dribble the ball to open space rather than forcing to make a pass to a teammate, making you lose possession. Know and be aware of what’s happening and what’s going to happen if you do one thing or another.
Third is reaction. How you respond is vital. Choose the best options that are available to react to a situation. Knowledge, being able to read a game, and being aware of what’s happening isn’t enough, you have to know what to do with these information.
If you’re a coach, one thing that you can do to help your players develop their speed of thought is by creating drills that will give the players an opportunity to make decisions by themselves. This way, you’re not only developing their physical and technical skills, but also their cognitive ability to play the game.