Every year in July for the past five or six years, I take the bus from NYC to Bethlehem Pennsylvania to coach at the EDP Soccer ID Camp. The coaching staff at the camp literally comes from around the country, and includes some of some of the best college and club coaches in America. Having access to all these top coaches, presents a rare opportunity for me to pick their soccer brains in an informal environment. This year I decided to write some blog posts about the experience, so I could share with you some of what I picked up. I will do a few of these posts, sharing one experience at a time. The first post touches on a conversation I had with Paul Marco the Head Men’s Coach at Binghamton University, who is one the most forwarded thinking coaches in the country.
Cognitive Headsets & the Socratic Method
As I was watching one of the games at the camp, the ball was turned over, partly due to some miscommunication between the striker and center midfielder. I mention that the striker might not be aware of his possible movement options, as Paul turns to me and says, “when I was a striker, I looked at the game differently, I always looked for the spaces of where I could run and receive the ball and get in behind.” I told the coach that I had recently read an article about the great Italian player Pirlo, who said the same thing. Pirlo doesn’t pick out players with passes, he picks out spaces, and he believes that is what separates him from others players. Paul asks me if I ever saw the NFL Game Officials and the headsets they wear when officiating a football game? I said yes, so he went on to tell me that each one of his players gets a headset, but his headset connects to the players. The headset allows him to talk individually to any of the players and listen to what that player is saying at any time. Paul literally watches them in training, and is able to speak to any player he wants, from the sideline. However, Paul doesn’t shout out commands, instead he uses the “Socratic Method” with the headsets, asking players questions like what do they see, where is the open space, what are the options and what is the positioning of the other team showing you? This is very important, because using a questioning method can serve to increase the player’s soccer IQ, it eliminates the pressure to get the right answer, it takes away the fear of choosing the wrong answer, it helps illustrate there are many possibilities and no single right answer, and most of all it helps players become confident problem solvers. I thought the headsets combined with the Socratic Method was a brilliant idea, one that fits perfectly into developing the soccer brain!
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My “Cognitive Skill Ball” is now available in time for pre-season!
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