Football DiscussionDecision-Making and Anticipation

January 3, 2016


What makes up these skills?

  • Knowledge and understanding of the game
  • Ability to execute
  • Experience
  • Awareness and vision
  • Understanding ones intuition and instinct
  • Expectation
  • Emotional intelligence

I believe we can improve these skills by developing player’s awareness and vision, their emotional intelligence and speed of thought. By increasing the level of difficulty, whether it is by making it faster, smaller or bigger and more challenging, by introducing more things for players to think about, will produce smarter footballers.

I also believe that a player’s peripheral vision is important in football and by sharpening this sense, can help improve decision-making. We can achieve this by conducting exercises that involve many bodies moving within tight spaces.

Knowledge and understanding of the game

If a player doesn’t know what to look for in the way of opportunity then he cannot make a decision on it. Having intelligent coaches and watching more football live and from broadcasts would bridge the gap.

Ability to execute

This will come with improvements in technical ability and hours of practice. I believe a player will only be able to see things that are within their capabilities to execute, if a player has poor control with the ball at feet, then they are more likely to keep their head down. If a player does not have the ability to hit a 40m pass, they will not even bother look that far.

Awareness and vision

I believe we can improve this area by implementing visual cues for players. This helps police that they are being aware of their surroundings at all times, thus automating this ability. I have also learnt in my coaching that helping a player with body shape and movement can help them become more aware of their surroundings.

Decision-making and anticipation are skills that can’t be attained via a short cut approach, rather through experience. It is knowledge and understanding of the game that will develop these traits. An accumulation of football patterns is required to be attained and imprinted into a players memory, and therefore can only be achieved by performing game like scenarios repetitiously or playing more games. Below are the things I believe are required to better our decision-making and improve our anticipation.

– Knowledge and understanding of the game

– Experience

– Awareness and vision

– Instinct and intuition

– Expectation

– Communication

– Multi-tasking

To break down decision-making, a player needs to first know what to look for on the field. So in other words, they need to have an understanding of the game and of the opportunities that present themselves. Once they know what an opportunity looks like (expectation), they have choices to make and they need to learn to make the best decisions based on the choices available at any given time, and quickly.

This brings me to the first step to becoming a better decision-maker, AWARENESS. A player needs to be able to know what’s around them at all times so that they can make the best choices in movement, take up the better positions on the field and know what there next moves are going to be, whether it is with the ball or without it. Communication from teammates helps aid this and therefore an important aspect of decision-making.

The second step is making the best decision and then acting on it (instinct, intuition and multi-tasking). And this comes over time by being constantly in a position to have to make choices, whether that be in training through exercises or during a game. Players will make mistakes in the process, but this is a part of their development.

And finally the third step, a player needs to be able to execute appropriate skill in certain cases (technique), although there are times where decision-making requires no more than a simple movement and not reliant on skill what so ever.


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