Soccer intelligence basically refers to the strategic aspect of the game where players are guided by coaches to think on their feet and make decisions with improved precision and accuracy. Basically, soccer intelligence revolves around players identifying their choices before receiving the ball; picking out the right option of the many available to them to advance the ball; and maintaining possession of the ball during the next playing phase.
Coaching methodology is another crucial aspect of soccer intelligence. A coach would not be able to gauge the comprehension skills of the players if they don’t ask them questions. How often the coach interrogates their players; how much freedom does the coach offer to their players to think and decide freely; etc.
Generally, football coaches tell players off and on the field to follow specific instructions. The player obeys the coach’s orders, even if they do not necessarily understand the cues. With this coaching style, it’s tough to expect players to think independently or develop intelligence of their own.
To overcome this, the directive should be for the coach to engage with the players at a conversational level as quickly as possible. By doing so, the coach would learn what the players think and can devise game strategies accordingly. During half time, players must be let to run the show. The coach should stick to asking players questions and not reflect on what happened on the field, particularly when the players themselves know what transpired on the field.
This approach, with time, shall help players think independently; identify situations and improve upon them, if needed. The coach, of course, will not be a silent spectator. They would be offering advice too. But the instructions would not be coming from a single direction anymore. Everyone would be given an opportunity to constructively add to the discussion.
This discussion off the field shall also help players come closer to each other and get talking between them more. Modern-day soccer, particularly youth soccer, has this issue where players play but don’t interact among themselves much on the field. When players start talking to each other during play, the coach would not have to spoon-feed players from the other side of the line. Players who can assess the game cerebrally more quickly compared to their opponents would play faster and always be a step ahead.
Soccer intelligence development should be done when the player is young, around seven to 10 years old. The exact time to start training would depend on the individual player. Some players may need more time, which means the training can happen at a later age too.