- Linking foot preparation, body position and mental preparation to the technique involved in making a decision leads us to a discussion on Half a touch brain centered thinking and its benefits.
- The Half a touch brain centered thinking process we use teaches the value of the player being able to take their eyes off the ball when keeping their eyes on the ball can be a disadvantage. To make this work, players need to have good teamwork and positional sense and therefore must work hard for each other to make the options obvious but ultimately to have the capacity to develop their “soccer intelligence” on and off the ball.
- Many players will mentally prepare to make a decision AFTER receiving the ball; we teach them to mentally prepare to make decisions BEFORE they receive the ball. This saves them time and space and can be the difference between maintaining possession and losing the ball. As the game gets faster, so is the need for players to master this VITAL innate ability because The game is getting faster using fewer touches on the ball, which creates the need for quicker thinking; quicker moving and better decision making players.
- PLEASE remember, one touch awareness training isn’t all just to teach One touch, it is to teach players the recognition of options of what to do and when and where to do it, before they receive the ball. WE OFTEN PLAY ONE TOUCH TO HELP DEVELOP THE HALF A TOUCH MENTALITY.
- But through this thinking process the decision could result in a pass, a dribble, a receive and turn and run; a run with the ball, a one touch pass, a short pass, a long pass; few touches, many touches on the ball as the next option; anything at all.
- The secret is they enabled themselves to save time and space; to play really “quickly”; or even play more “slowly”; based on the “Tempo of the Game” needed at that moment, due to that “half a touch mentality” training development.
Xavi Hernandez of Barcelona and Spain says:
When you arrive at Barcelona the first thing they teach is LOOK and THINK; LOOK and THINK; LOOK and THINK.
Speed is not necessarily the most important quality. When the ball moves quickly, you are a quick player.
Lift your head, move; LOOK / THINK; Look for spaces. Think quickly, Here? No. There? No. Here? Yes. There? Yes.
All BEFORE receiving the ball. Recognize: Space; Space; more Space… “Before receiving the ball”
I think, the defenders here, so play it there. I see the space and the pass.
Rondo, Rondo, Rondo (which is a major part of SAEA training): Every Single Day at Barcelona.
It’s the best exercise there is. You learn responsibility and not to lose the ball; always 1 touch, two touches at the most.
Ultimately our SAEA training is Teaching Players to play with “Intensity” and “Relaxation” at the same time; and to guide them to think for THEMSELVES to become self determining players through this model.
The Conscious and Sub Conscious Mind and Myelin Production
Every soccer player, like every human being, has two distinct parts of the mind whose primary role is thought and recollection. There is the conscious state and the sub-conscious state. As the names suggest, when you are completely aware of what you are doing, you are letting your "conscious state" guide you through the process.
On the other hand, when you react instinctively, or automatically even, your actions are being controlled by your sub-conscious mind. This isn't just true for soccer, by the way! Even when you are driving or cooking or swimming both these aspects come into the
Our natural tendency is to think that we are how we think! We tend to define ourselves by our conscious mind or thoughts, which is not completely accurate. When it comes to making a decision after thinking about it, the conscious mind is the king. However, everything that we do, using our conscious mind, only helps create a belief system or habit for our sub-conscious mind.
What does that mean? It means, as we keep making a particular kind of decision, based on a particular kind of thought process, we convince our mind about our thinking patterns, which slowly becomes a habit for us. To quote a simple example – say, you are asked to pick your favorite color between Red & Green, and you choose, say, Green. If this question is repeatedly asked to you, over and over again, there will come a point of time when you won't even need to think about the answer – you will just choose "Green" without blinking. It might even get to the point where you will speak out the answer even before the question is completed or earlier still. Basically, what you are doing is that you have trained your mind to handle that situation in a way where you know exactly what you are going to do.
Being asked the same thing, over and over again, is just a way of reinforcing that idea into your sub-conscious mind. The decision, originally, was being made by the conscious segment of your mind. However, over time that role was slowly and gradually handed over to the sub-conscious mind, which made it instinctive. That is the exact same reason why you can apply the brakes quickly, when the car in front of you suddenly comes to a halt. That is also why you know how to instantly use a spoon or even how to tie your shoe-laces.
MAKING HABITS When you do something, anything, you trigger chemicals reactions that produce something called Myelin. This myelin forms a cover around your brain's neuron. That is the beginning of the formation of a habit. Every time you do that same thing again, your brain adds another layer of myelin to the existing layer – which makes it thicker. The thicker the myelin, the stronger the habit! The stronger the habit, the more instinctive you are! That means exactly what you already know – "practice makes perfect"! Well; permanent
The more you practice, the more you know how to do something better. However, if you believe, that a habit cannot be undone, you are right! There is no way of undoing what you have learnt – so you might ask then, how do we get rid of a habit? The answer is, but obviously, putting in more practice to learn something else than you did into learning the habit you are trying to undo. It's just that simple!
HENCE WHY THE YOUNGER WE GET PLAYERS TO OUR TRAINING THE BETTER WITH FEWER BAD HABITS TO BREAK / CHANGE.
If you put in enough hours, more than what you have done before, you will put on more and more myelin on your neurons for a second habit and your second habit will become stronger, pushing the first behind in the pecking order. Basically, your habits are instilled in your sub-conscious mind, allowing your body to respond to environmental triggers a particular kind of reaction, instinctively. Get the right kind of triggers for your mind and you will have the right kind of Myelin layers forming in the right place and the reaction becomes ANTICIPATION..
Back to Barcelona; the first thing they teach is LOOK and THINK; LOOK and THINK; LOOK and THINK.
When you see Xavi Hernandez of Barcelona threading an inch-perfect pass through 4-opposition players, finding a teammate, commentators & fans call it vision.
However, what they don't realize is that the reason a player can pick out a pass like that is because they have practiced it, studied it, run through that same routine over and over and over again, in practice!
The game is so fast, it is almost impossible to stop the ball, look up and think about what you are going to do, assess your options and then make a decision.
Instead, training helps players understand patterns of play, patterns of runs and patterns of passes that they should make or
OUR SAEA Training model focus almost “Conditions the mind” to develop the LOOK and THINK.
What is the LOOK and THINK?
The Continuums “Look and Think” Model of Development
Word Association combining thought and deed
“Look and Think” MUST come first before everything else; decision making in advance of the ball.
- LOOK / OBSERVE / THINK (ALWAYS BEFORE receiving the ball; assessing all options in “Anticipation” not as a Reaction)
- SKILL: THE DECISION (How, why; when and where of Technique; plus its success or not; and why?)
- FOOT PREPARATION (flat footed, off balance?)
- BODY POSITION (open or closed?)
- COMMUNICATION (Verbal and visual)
- CONTROL (If not a one touch pass on, the 1st touch control)
- TECHNIQUE (the pass, the run, the dribble, the turn, the shot; etc)
- TACTICAL MOBILITY (Movement off the ball, finding space; 90% of the game)
- MENTAL and PHYSICAL TRANSITION (Possession changes, Player tunes in immediately?)
Relating Word Association with Actions to identify the Strengths and Areas of Improvement needed in players.
Focusing particularly on teaching a HALF TOUCH MENTALITY.
1. Most players will mentally prepare to make a decision AFTER receiving the ball; we teach them to mentally prepare to make decisions BEFORE they receive the ball. This saves them time and space and can be the difference between maintaining possession and losing the ball. As the game gets faster, so is the need for players to master this VITAL innate ability.
2. Half Touch Mental Development: We ask Players at our training to THINK with a “Half Touch Mentality”, like every time the ball is coming to them they imagine they only have a half touch to play the ball with.
This will literally FORCE them to LOOK around and THINK of their options before receiving the ball.
On deciding the best option thru a “half touch thought process” it could result in a pass, a dribble, a receive and turn and run; a run with the ball, a one touch pass, a short pass, a long pass;, few touches, many touches on the ball as the next option;
anything at all.
The secret is they enabled themselves to save time and space; to play really “quickly”; or even play more “slowly”; based on the “Tempo of the Game” needed at that moment.
3. In the Zone: Training your mind as well as your body
Being in the zone generally means being in a state in which your mind and body are working in harmony. You're calm yet energized, challenged yet confident, focused yet instinctive.
4. Mental training: Keep your focus
Training your mind is an important step toward getting in the zone. Aspects of mental training for sports include increasing concentration and focus, controlling emotions, trying to feel relaxed but energized, being calm and positive, and aiming to feel challenged and confident.
Soccer is played in the mind and preparing the mind for the game is an extremely scientific and sequential process. By breaking things down, sequentially arranging and explaining them, and through incredible amounts of repetition, you create a team that knows exactly what team-mates are up to and what they need to do next.
Hence why playing a specific system and STYLE of play consistently is so important.
The sub-conscious mind is the most important weapon on the soccer pitch. It gives you the speed of thought you need to survive and excel. The more natural you are at reading a situation and picking up cues, the better you will be at soccer.
The more you train, the better you will be able to visualize everything and the better you can visualize, the more trained your subconscious mind will be.
You will then be a step ahead of everyone else.
You will hit those perfect passes or strike the top-corner nearly every time till it comes to a point where making split-second decisions will come naturally to you, and also look magical !
THIS is EXACTLY what we will teach your child where their game will become “automatic” but it takes a lot of time and training, it’s a marathon not a sprint.
Most players play CONSCIOUSLY because they haven’t been trained to play beyond that thought process.
Our training teaches them to think SUBCONSCIOUSLY and in advance of the ball.
The process is:
a) Playing Consciously and making decisions but NOT before receiving the ball (often the norm), and then;
b) Playing consciously and making decisions before receiving the ball, and then;
c) Playing subconsciously and the decision is already made without thinking, the player just “knows”.
When a player is consistently acting and performing at stage c) then that player sees the field in slow motion, is relaxed, everything comes easy (as long as they put the work rate in); and off the ball they have intensity and desire.
And the more the players train in the right way the better they will become, it doesn’t suddenly happen and its done, it is a constant work in progress to maintain this level of thought and action. The players who think they have it made and don’t need to work as hard anymore invariably fail; but add the work rate and they give themselves the best chance to succeed and us the best chance to help them get there.
A BALANCE BETWEEN RELAXATION ON THE BALL AND INTENSITY OFF THE BALL IS THE GOAL