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You Play Football With Your Mind
In addition to physical fitness, a strong technique and good mental ability, a football player needs developed psychomotor skills, that is, attention and concentration abilities, multitasking, anticipated perception (ability to perceive in advance), spatial orientation, information processing (word). -output) speed, motor memory and the like.
To clarify this issue, let’s take a look at the data processing and performance of Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez from the moment he receives the ball to its release – the moment of transition:
A. Identify open space in the direction of the passing angle and move to it.
B. Understanding that the ball will be passed to him.
C. Shifting your gaze away from the ball and the surrounding screen.
D. By keeping his eyes on the ball while it is halfway there, he predicts where it will go and its strength at the moment of possession.
E. Catching the ball (Almost blind possession), while scanning the surroundings and evaluating possible moves.
F. Passing the ball with great accuracy to his partner or to the open space where his partner is moving.
Now we can better understand Xavi’s sentence in the interview: “When you come to Barcelona as a child, the first thing you are taught is: think, think, think and fast. From the age of ten to you are taught that it is a shame to lose the ball.
Chavi is actually talking about brain and mental functions during physical exertion or in simpler terms about brain training.
In his book “A User’s Guide to the Brain” (Zmora-Bitan Publishers 2005), Dr. John Ratey, a neuro-psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, provides some impressive insights into athletes’ understanding of training:
“Imagine what happens inside your head when you have to make a decision. You receive information from different brain functions: facts, opinions, thoughts, memories, and predicting outcomes. You organize pieces of information, add possible outcomes to causality testing, and The stages of this process are based on motor functions, which are organized according to sequence, add analysis and instruction, the neural networks that work within those processes are those that work in motor processes.” He further emphasized states that: “the parts of the brain used to organize the sequence and timing of cognitive activity are the same parts that organize the sequence and timing of physical actions”
Such insights are effectively applied using psychomotor training that is individually tailored to each player. In other words: If a football player can be trained to improve his physical training, technique and coordination, and as it is known, a chess player can be trained to improve his decision-making skills, then why can’t we? to train both at the same time?
Gifted players like Pele, Johan Cruyff, Maradona, Messi, etc. also have very rare psychomotor skills. One of their distinguishing features is the ability to think and make the right decision on the move. Take Eyal Berkowitz as an example, the unique quality that makes him such a good player is his ability to transmit (ie process space-related information) while constantly moving, without negatively impacting the game’s psychology. This kind of skill can sometimes be the difference between good players and very good players, and between excellent players and those recognized as geniuses.
Coaches say you can’t teach talent. You either have it or you don’t.
That’s true, but think about how many talented footballers work hard and still can’t use their full potential?
A football player with a tendency to “attention” (“discontinuity”), no matter how talented he is, can make serious mistakes due to a moment of inattention. Only motivation or hard training cannot relieve the anxiety of the player and the coach. We are talking about a neurological form that the player has no influence on. The first step in solving this problem is developing awareness and awareness of these “connections” and the second step is careful intervention/training focused on attention. A soccer player’s focus and concentration skills also affect the amount of mental effort he puts into maintaining his focus throughout the game.
Physical fitness obviously affects this issue, but even if we start from the assumption that the player has adequate physical fitness, signs of mental fatigue will often be visible. When a player performs very well in the first half and then completely disappears from the field in the second half, this cannot always be attributed to his physical fitness. Players who did psychomotor exercises for several months reported not only improvement and better concentration in the game, but also a feeling of “freshness” for a long time. This is not surprising. The human brain responds to exercise in the same way that the muscles of the body respond to exercise.
Coaches often complain about players not passing the ball when it seems like the best and simplest option for the coach. Therefore, the coach accuses the player of selfishness. This can be fine, but in some cases this is caused by the player seeing movement but not processing spatial information. More than once, this is the same player who “read” the field and made excellent passes during the first half.
This phenomenon has a simple explanation: The careful and physical effort that the player must invest in this stage of the game “locks” the ability in his mind to predict movements and “read” the field. We know that at a certain stage of the game, the first skills to be degraded are the higher brain skills, namely: Vision on the field of play, movement prediction and decision making. At that stage we (coach, players, fans) make the same mistake and ask a question that the player cannot answer – Why didn’t you drop the ball?
Attention and concentration problems are not caused by the malfunction of this or that area, but by the lack of balance of the system as a whole. Scientists have identified four different components in the attention system that are responsible for the brain’s overall ability to examine its surroundings: vigilance, motor orientation, detection of novelty and rewards, and organization of operations. These components do not work in isolation or in ways unrelated to motor activity. This is behind rationality and the need for joint learning: motor, attentive and cognitive.
The player passes the ball to another player who is standing 4.5 meters in front of him and at the same time catches the tennis ball thrown into his hand. Both of them exchange passes and throws. I stand behind the player and ask him to find the exact point of time (time) between passing the ball with his foot and catching the tennis ball with his hand, which allows him to turn on his back and count the number of fingers. , which I “shine” on him. Of course, motor activity, the quality of passing, receiving and passing the tennis ball is considered the first priority. If a player cannot change his gaze in time, he must stop his impulse (impulsive restraint), let go and surrender (decision-making under moderate pressure) and turn his head back so as not to degrade the quality of his game. passes In the advanced stage of learning, I ask the player to use additional operations on the number of fingers shown in two consecutive flashes (data processing, input-output).
As the player’s skill improves, the difficulty level of the exercise can be increased. As long as I feel that the player has achieved a good level of performance and is doing it comfortably, I ask him to raise his heart rate to match level and then repeat the exercise. Later, he is asked to perform the exercise in a state of exhaustion.
When the player has reached the point where he can perform complex motor and sensory problems without extra effort and mentally, I include cognitive problems in the exercises that require: spatial memory, extracting information, planning, imagination, etc. a way to train the player to think faster, with better concentration and improve his decision in the game.
In his book A User’s Guide to the Brain (Zmora-Bitan Publishers 2005), Ratey writes:
“The amazing flexibility of the human brain allows it to constantly readjust and learn—not just through academic learning, but through experience, thought, action, and emotion. We can strengthen our neurological pathways as well as train our brain muscles. given, or allows their degradation The principle is the same: “What is not used, is lost!”
The player walks on a route that follows the figure of 8 and focuses his gaze on the coach standing in front of him in the middle of the figure of 8.
From there the coach gives him 3 juggling balls of different colors. Now the player walks and focuses his attention on the balls that come to him quickly. He takes the ball with one hand and returns it with the other hand in a circular motion.
At this stage, learning is only motor, sensory and attentive.
As the coach passes the ball, he names a color that sometimes matches the color of the ball and sometimes doesn’t. The player must continue the necessary sequence of actions and say “yes” whenever the color of the ball matches the coach’s words and say “no” whenever the color does not match the coach’s words (of course, the coach will pass the speed and from this face, controls the intensity of the exercise). Now learning is twofold: motor, sensory, attention and cognitive. The player is required not only to observe whether the verbal part matches or differs from the current activity (information processing), but also to continue to do so over time and under pressure.
Psychomotor training refers to the general preparation that is appropriate for each sport and to specific exercises that are adapted to the specific characteristics of the sports field and, in the case of team sports, also to the role of the player in the team. Each of the above educational categories is implemented under several conditions:
A. Regularly, while the player is still fresh.
B. Intense, during effort (after increased pulse)
C. Under fatigue conditions.
Training conditions are modified to train the brain for maximum flexibility and mimic real game situations. The training also includes working on proper breathing in different situations, simulations and “anchoring exercises” that help focus and recover faster after the effort. Ultimately, all training activities are designed to fulfill the bottom line expressed by Johan Cruyff: “The best football is simple football; but simple football is the hardest to play”. And yes, you play football with your mind.
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