5 Tips for Developing Game Intelligence
Game intelligence is often discussed yet hard to quantify, but it can be considered the sum of all things relevant to the DNA of a solid competitive player: decision making, vision, insight, tactical understanding, etc., it's a compilation off these characteristics that make-up a player's soccer-brain.
Many coaches and students of the game rate game intelligence as the most important characteristic of the world's top players.
Here are 5 ideas for developing your game intelligence.
1. Make Practice/Drills Realistic
If you want your game intelligence to develop at a steady rate and reach new heights, it is critical that you practice and train in situations that closely resemble open play of an actual match.
This means more players active and involved with more touches on the ball, not standing in lines, not standing on cones waiting for a turn to get a touch, or play a pass in a predetermined direction or pattern.
You need creative training sessions that closely resemble the game, as this is the best tool at your disposal for helping players develop their IQ.
2. Utilize Small-Sided-Games
If you're looking to create realism in your sessions, there's no better option than small-sided games of 4v4 or similar numbers with neutrals.
Putting players in small-sided-games make the synapses of the brain rage like wildfires: they'll be forced to take clean touches, get their heads up to connect passes, move off the ball, be smart in possession, the list goes on and on.
If you want to help educate and mold autonomous players, small-sided-games are one of the best bets.
3. Analyze Tactics and Team Shape
All top players players have to understand team tactics, and the shape/formation your team plays, the roles and responsibilities within the system, and how they will be asked to contribute.
Learning the reasoning behind how your team plays, and when and where to cover, when to get forward, when your team is vulnerable in transition, etc., these are all elements of analyzing tactics and team shape that help boost game intelligence.
4. Encourage Peer Review
In order to foster the development of game intelligence, encouraging peer review amongst players is something to start incorporating into your team culture. Players who are in the thick of battle have some of the most useful insight and feedback into the game.
It should be shared, team talks and corrective actions don't always have to come from the coach, give each player a voice, it will help shape their understanding of the game and strengthen the brain.
5. Watch Professional Soccer
Growing and building a soccer-brain takes time, there is a lot of physical work that goes into the process, and there's also a lot of, if not more, mental energies that are required to really feel the game and play at a high level.
One avenue to pursue to help this process is to watch professional soccer through an analytical lens, watch players that play the role in their team as you do, try and identify what shape your favorite team plays in, look at how the professionals interact and communicate during a match, the list goes on and on.
There is an enriching multitude of different teaching moments on offer if you watch with a critical eye.