Tag Archives: soccer

New Research Links Soccer Heading To Brain Injury

via Axon Sports

By now, it should come as no surprise that concussions continue to be a real problem in soccer, for both pros and amateurs.  From FIFA to US Youth Soccer, programs have been launched to teach young soccer players how to reduce violent head to head contact by improving their technique on the field.  Now, new research is warning against not just one-time hits to the head but also the collection of smaller hits over a player’s career. One of the ironies for youth soccer safety is the attention paid to making sure a player’s shin guards are in place, while their more vulnerable head goes unprotected.  Collisions between players or even …

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Rubber-Necked Soccer Players Have The Best Field Vision

via Axon Sports

Last weekend, there was no better place for a few hundred high school soccer players to learn the concept of field vision than to take them to a college match between two top Division 1 teams.  Having just finished playing the second day of the Blue Chip Showcase tournament in Ohio, their assignment (and chance to unwind) was to observe first-hand the skill level that they would need to reach the next level.  If they thought their games against fellow 16 and 17 year old players were fast-paced, then they were in for a surprise when they watched the split second decision making of college players during a spring game between …

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Elite Soccer Players’ Brains Excel At Planning And Problem Solving

via Axon Sports

Coaches and commentators often refer to an athlete’s ability to “see the field” or be a play-maker.  Rookies at the next level can’t wait for the game to “slow down” so their brains can process all of the moving pieces.  What exactly is this so-called game intelligence and court vision?  Can it be recognized and developed in younger players?  For the first time, neuroscientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet have found a link between our brain’s “executive functions” and sports success. When in the middle of a heated game on the field or court, our brains are accomplishing the ultimate in multitasking.  Moving, anticipating, strategizing, reacting and performing requires an enormous amount …

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Searching For The Secret To Success In Sports

via Axon Sports

An athlete’s level of greatness is often measured by the opinions of his or her peers while they’re playing.  Being recognized as one of the best by those who understand what it takes is rare.  The mystery lies in the secret ingredient that separates the great players from the masses. After 17 seasons, Paul Scholes of Manchester United thought he had played in his final tribute game last summer and would become a coach at the club he’s been part of since his teens.  Yet, in a surprise to everyone, he suited up for an FA Cup match earlier this month and is planning to stay on the active roster through …

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Teaching Your Brain How To Play Soccer

via Axon Sports

When describing what’s wrong with today’s youth soccer coaching, Michel Bruyninckx points to his head. “We need to stop thinking football is only a matter of the body,” the 59-year old Belgian Uefa A license coach and Standard Liège academy director recently told the BBC. “Skillfulness will only grow if we better understand the mental part of developing a player. Cognitive readiness, improved perception, better mastering of time and space in combination with perfect motor functioning.” We’re not talking about dribbling around orange cones here.  Bruyninckx’s approach, which he dubs “brain centered learning” borrows heavily from the constructivist theory of education that involves a total immersion of the student in the …

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Soccer and Spatial Reasoning

via Axon Sports

We’re going to go back to David Winner’s book about Dutch Total Football, Brilliant Orange one more time; it’s just too good. There are so many valuable insights about the nature of expertise and athletic intelligence, specifically with respect to Spatial Reasoning, the ability to visualize and manipulate patterns in space over time. One of the book’s main arguments is that soccer is fundamentally about manipulating space on the pitch to create or exploit openings, and that the Total Football style of the 1970′s Dutch teams revolutionized the way this was done. Former Manchester United manager Dave Sexton explains: With their pressing and rotation, the Dutch created space where there wasn’t …

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More on soccer decision-making and expertise

via Axon Sports

Friday’s post focused on decision-making and anticipation in soccer, and specifically on how the quick and precise evaluation and elimination of options sets great soccer players apart from good athletes who don’t see the game quite as well. While research is nice, it’s always valuable to hear corroboration of those ideas from the mouths of players and coaches who know the game on a truly deep level. Some of the best writing on athletic genius and the unique ways that experts see the game can be found in David Winner’s fantastic book, Brilliant Orange: The neurotic genius of Dutch football. Winner conducted in-depth interviews with former Dutch players, as well as …

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Soccer, Anticipation, and Athletic Intelligence

via Axon Sports

One of the challenges in a free-flowing, fast-paced sport like soccer is knowing not only what to pay attention to, but based on each situation, being able to immediately determine the best course of action.  At any single moment on the pitch, a soccer player with the ball faces an essentially infinite number of possible choices for his/her next move.  Many of these are relevant and reasonable choices–he might pass to a man on his left or right, play the ball back, try to advance the ball himself by dribbling, or take a shot–while many are not (e.g. kick the ball into the stands).  Defensively, this would mean trying to get …

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