Cognitive Soccer – “Perception-Action Coupling” – From My Books “Cognitive Soccer & The Sports Brain”

Perception Action Coupling In Soccer

I have heard the argument that developing “Game Intelligence” must be trained only in game like situations. I would agree, training that simulates the exact conditions of a real game is necessary and needed. However, I also believe components of drills can be directly translated and carried over into the real game. In soccer, a player that scans backwards while tossing a tennis ball to the next player (standing behind him), and then receives a pass to feet, is in fact training himself to scan the field before receiving a pass. The skill of scanning the field can easily be transferred over to the actual game and therefore is realistic game training. I would recommend that drills be executed at a high tempo once players have proven they can execute it perfectly at a slower tempo. However, training at slow tempo and fast tempo each have value. Training at a slower tempo allows players to breakdown the finer parts of the technique, while training at a faster game tempo will better simulate the demands of the real game. Both slow and fast tempo training serve different purposes and are needed.   In the martial arts, fighters perform forms called kata’s. These kata’s do not involve real fighting, but instead mimic the actions of fighting movements. Even though there is no opponent, there is still a direct transfer of skill from kata’s to actual fighting. During any type of useful practice, players will pick up certain cues from trainings and will be able to associate those cues with certain actions. When a person combines multiple cues, it is called “Perception-Action Coupling”. As the player couples together the cues, it will trigger a specific action. The result of that action will be evaluated and processed (based upon success & failure) and guide future actions/decisions. This process can also be looked at as vision, processing and action. In essence the player see’s what is happening on the field, then he processes the information while thinking about what to do and finally based upon the decision he performs the appropriate action. Lower level players often get stuck processing each step to slowly. Higher-level players go through these three steps without hesitation, never stopping or delaying. Players that take to much time to scan, process and act will give away possession, fail to take opportunities, get caught ball watching and find themselves out of position disrupting the teams play. I suggest some of training contain drills that require the players to perform game realistic transferable skills. The next part of training should involve playing games that place players in realistic situations and circumstances (developing their grid cells and exposing them to game cues). The realistic game situations do not have to be limited to 7v7 or 11 v 11 scrimmages. Try playing the game in all sorts on all different sized fields or courts, use different numbers of players, change the rules and use varying tactics. Remember, in order to ensure cognitive growth, the brain must always be challenged.

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