Vision and Awareness

Vision and Awareness are the New Buzz Words. How important are they?

Of all the pillars of player development, the two that separate an exceptional player from a good player are the level of Vision and Awareness.

Vision is the skill of seeing things quickly and in some instances before they happen in the game.

Awareness is a combination of feeling and recognizing opportunities to make and execute plays faster than opponents.

In team sports like soccer where interactions with team members are integral to ball possession, vision can be as simple as having your head on a swivel checking in every direction for clues as to what the opponent is doing and what you and your teammates are doing.  It allows a player in control of the ball to serve the pass to an open player, perhaps starting a possession sequence that could lead to scoring goals. Vison can also include a player not with the ball moving into open spaces, placing them in a situational dominance of defenders, making their opponent unable to match their pace of play and movement. READ MORE

Technique / Skills Mastery – “I am watching you”

Recently, I was observing a coach providing some coaching points to a player, reminding them of the proper move or form to strike the ball. The player appreciated the attention and direction. The player kept working at the move without the coach’s feedback for a while. The player became less rigid in their form over time. The coach simply turned and remarked “I am watching you” and the player’s form or technique improved instantly.

Coaches often obtain knowledge of the game and how to work with players thru course work at the sports local club, state or national organizations. This knowledge transfer is gained thru “education”.

Coaches also learn thru direct visual observation of methods and experiencing and employing various methods with players to attempt to obtain the desired behavior. This knowledge transfer is gained thru “experience”.

In a similar manner, MOTI Sports offers through its MOTI Mobile App, 3D Foot Skills / Techniques, the ability for coaches and players to watch, understand and observe the proper foot technique. Auditory and visual references are provided so that the knowledge transfer of how each technique can and should be performed is provided to the coach or player in the form of “education”.

The role of the Coach is to observe and guide the player thru the process of learning how to do the Foot Skills / Technique and gain knowledge thru “experience”. Players can easily observe and begin performing the Foot Skill / Technique in a “See it, Do it” basis. The Coaches role is then to observe and guide the player’s performance of the movement providing observation and feedback to the player to enhance their knowledge and learning “experience”.

Coaches or parents need to employ various methods of verbal reinforcement (how do I get the player to do what I am telling them they should do) which are continued until success is achieved.

Learning the correct skill / technique is critical to mastery. Once accomplished th skill / technique needs to be performed hundreds of times until it comes naturally.

Operant Conditioning has two methods of behavior reinforcement that we are seeking to use as coaches. Positive reinforcement, we anticipate that a behavior will be continued. Positive reinforcement works by presenting a motivating/reinforcing stimulus to the Player. Negative reinforcement should not be thought of as a punishment, but as a method of decreasing an undesired behavior so a behavior will stop. A simple example is providing a positive reinforcement like “nice push thru the equator of the ball” to the player will reinforce that behavior. A sample negative reinforcement would be saying something like “now let’s try that again, with…whatever movement you did not observe in the player’s technique”.

As coaches we need to be continuously verbalizing and providing both positive and negative reinforcements to the players until they succeed in the behavior we desire to see happen. Then we need to see that behavior in the form of practice continue time and time again. Whether in the backyard, or at the field watching your players practicing their technique, providing proper verbal coaching is critical to reinforcing behavior. Being “the strong silent type” in coaching is the wrong approach. Players not receiving any reinforcement either positive or negative on a continual basis are less likely to listen to you as a coach when you need them to.

Remember, coaching needs you to be involved with continuous verbal feedback to the player to make a difference. Remember, “I am watching you”, gets and reinforces results.