While playing soccer--whether practicing or in games--is the obvious way to improve and enjoy your sport, it’s not the only way. At Techne Futbol, we emphasize your complete soccer education. That includes watching, and studying, the game.
Watching soccer can be instructive, inspiring and educational. And there’s more than one way to watch: you can do it for the fun and excitement of the game--to get the satisfaction of being a fan of a team and player(s). You can also watch in order to learn, by engaging in deliberate study of techniques and tactics.
So, whether you watch for 90 minutes, or a focused 10 minutes; whether you watch alone, or with a coach, parent and/or teammate(s); whether you choose to watch your own game tape, YouTube clips, or other highlights; or live games of your local high school, college or club team--every viewing experience can be enjoyable and valuable for your soccer education.
You Are What You See
Did you know there is actual science behind why and how watching soccer can make you a better player?Research has found that with soccer, or any activity, your own motor skills can actually improve simply by watching others play. It’s because of a phenomenon called “nonconscious behavioral mimicry.” This means that people unintentionally imitate the behavior of others. We are actually biologically connected to the movements of others due to what’s called the “mirror neurons” in our brains.
In addition, science also tells us that if you want to take this learning to the next level, combine your watching with actual practice. You’ll get even more out of watching if you practice a skill, and then go back and watch that skill again.
So be like the greats. Watching the game is undoubtedly part of the reason the world’s great players become great. They have grown up imitating their idols and the other greats they saw playing the game.
How to Watch Intentionally
While it’s fun just to watch the game for enjoyment, if you want to learn, watch intentionally. Focus on a player(s) who plays your position. Record games when you can, then use the pause and/or rewind button. Guess the next play. Analyze what you see. Consider alternative decisions players could have made. Take notes. Discuss, analyze and share what you see with others.
Pick players on different teams, comparing them to yourself. Visualize yourself. Ask yourself: What would I do in a given situation? What can I try when I get on the field?
When watching the game for tactics, look at various teams. What is their playing style(s)? How do they line up and how do they move? How do they adapt their style depending on the circumstances of the game?
While it seems obvious to follow the ball when you watch (that’s what the camera does), don’t neglect watching your player(s) off the ball. After all, we know that about 80 to 90 percent of the game time a player is without the ball. Yet the various movements during that time are a vital part of playing greatness.
Nothing you can see is insignificant; everything is key. Take Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez. Among his other skills, Xavi is famous for La Pausa (The Pause)--holding onto the ball and temporarily slowing down the game to find and/or create the best options. It’s genius! Take a look at some of the YouTube videos simply highlighting one skill, such as La Pausa, done by Xavi and other top players.
How and Where to Watch
These days, there are seemingly endless ways and places to watch soccer. While viewing the game live provides the full experience and allows you to choose where to focus your attention instead of letting a camera do that for you--you should also take advantage of some of the many possibilities of watching soccer broadcasts and highlights.
Many mobile apps feature coverage of games--from professional leagues worldwide to college. In addition, viewing a variety of leagues and teams allows you to see and learn from different styles of soccer.
Get Ready To Watch!
Like everything else, practice makes perfect. The more soccer you watch, the easier your ability to notice and learn, and the more you can incorporate what you see into your own game.
Here are a few samples of selected watching, with analysis.
Notice that everything Busquets does entails great timing and execution of very simple moves and techniques. You may also notice that a lot of the skills we use in Techne, such as the ‘Pulling the V’ move at 7:58, and how he sets up the defender to use it.
👉Kevin De Bruyne
Much of what De Bruyne does is also very simple. His technique in striking the ball is very clean with both feet, which is something you can work on using a wall. At 4:11 you’ll also see the inside wedge move we train with Techne to practice “technical efficiency.” These are things that most people may not even notice while watching, but that can be the difference between a good player and a world-class player.
👉Women’s World Cup 2019
Another great way to watch the game is to study game analysis of your own play or rewatch any other games. There are both full games and highlights of games available on YouTube. At 0:32 of this clip, watch as the play develops and the decision the French winger makes to send the early cross. Would you have done the same in that position? Paying attention to players’ decisions, including evaluating your own, is a great way to learn.
The Value To Being A Student Of The Game
At Techne Futbol, we emphasize individual work both on and off the field as the key to maximizing your potential. Watching the game is part of that effort. Consider the quote below from the legendary Pelé.
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” Pelé
Want to get better at soccer? Get a 7-day free trial of the Techne Futbol app and 10% off your first purchase using code BLOG.
CLAIM MY FREE TRIAL >>