10 Ways to Improve Soccer Awareness, Intelligence and Vision

Awareness is about acknowledging and being aware of the game unfolding around you. Strong awareness, intelligence, and vision in soccer are all qualities of high-level, high-IQ soccer players that see the game differently. In what ways can we improve these things in ourselves?

Awareness in soccer defines a player’s capacity for analyzing the field and making decisions based on information. Likewise, intelligence and vision impact the value and correctness of these decisions. To improve these three aspects, watch film of yourself, learn from professionals, and constantly scan the field during games.

Let’s talk more about awareness, intelligence, and vision; I’ll lay out the details for what each one is and how to improve these aspects of your game to take your skill to the next level.

I’ve also curated ten easy steps to improve your soccer awareness, intelligence, and vision that you can implement immediately.

What is soccer awareness?

Awareness on a soccer field is a crucial trait for any soccer player. It affects a player’s ability to play quickly by developing a plan based on where they are on the field and who’s around them.

Soccer awareness defines a player’s capacity for understanding their current position on the field and all things happening around them, including other players’ locations, their position relative to each goal, and where players will be after a few seconds or passes of the ball.

Soccer awareness is about taking in information on the field and using it to your advantage. The report informs players about their next decision and helps them think ahead.

Soccer awareness is similar to having a top-down, 360-degree view of the entire field. Players with high soccer awareness or game sense position themselves in impactful areas on the field and have the vision to pick out passes that other players might not see.

Whether you like it or not, soccer is a mind game a lot of the time. Players must think one, two, or three passes ahead to position themselves correctly. Having or training high soccer awareness is imperative for top-level players.

Soccer awareness correlates to soccer intelligence. Players with a strong game sense and high levels of soccer intelligence are difference makers on the field that can make incisive passes, pinpoint tackles, and runs through the backline.

What is soccer intelligence?

Soccer intelligence is all about understanding the game and what to do on and off the ball. This aspect of your game is the key to becoming a better player. Training our brains as soccer players to better understand the game’s flow is essential.

Soccer intelligence quantifies a player’s understanding of soccer. It describes a player’s ability to analyze the game and make impactful decisions based on the information they have. Soccer intelligence is significant because it puts players and their teams in advantageous positions; the best players have high soccer intelligence.

Players that can foresee where they should be on the field before it happens have the upper hand. These players are more difficult for the other team to mark during the run of play and are ready to make the next pass before the ball gets to them.

Midfielders with high soccer intelligence know where they will play the ball before it gets to them. They know where they need to be on the field because they’ve analyzed where other players are, and they’ve put themselves in an impactful position based on that information.

Strikers with high soccer intelligence can make runs through the center backs or receive the ball with their back to the goal, already knowing if they will turn or lay the ball off. Mixing up your game is one way to keep the other team on their toes.

Use different movements or passes throughout a soccer game to throw off the other team.

What is vision in soccer?

Soccer is a game where thinking ahead is just as, if not more, important as playing in the moment. We, as players, know that envisioning a pass or making a run before anyone else spots it is invaluable. What do we call this type of foresight in soccer?

Soccer vision is a player’s ability to foresee the outcome of a pass, shot, tackle, save, or another player’s position on the field. It encompasses a player’s capacity to analyze the game and make decisions based on that information.

Players with high vision excel in their roles by thinking ahead and acting accordingly.

A midfielder with high vision can make pinpoint passes to anywhere on the field that other players might overlook; they see the game differently, so to speak. Midfield is a position where vision in soccer is necessary. Players with high vision excel in all midfielder roles.

Vision in soccer for defenders means correctly positioning yourself on the field relative to the ball and the opposition. A defender with high vision foresees the other team’s passes and movements and acts accordingly by intercepting the ball or stepping toward an offensive player.

Vision for a striker means making effective runs through the defense or dropping into space to receive the ball based on how they see the field. It also means doing different things with the ball when it comes to you.

For strikers, this could mean turning with the ball when you get it, then after you’ve turned multiple times during a game and the other team catches on, laying the ball off to a midfielder and moving after your pass.

Repositioning after a pass demonstrates a form of soccer vision, which goes hand in hand with soccer awareness and intelligence; each can be trained through practice and repetition.

10 ways to improve awareness and vision in soccer

There are many ways soccer players can improve their game. One of the most influential things you can do as a player is to train your soccer brain. That means facilitating a firm grasp of soccer knowledge by training your brain to see the game differently.

Improving awareness and vision in soccer comes with preparation, studying (watching yourself on film), developing in-game strategies, communication, and what you do during the game.

These characteristics are impactful both when you have the ball and when you don’t. Getting into a suitable position when you don’t have the ball is just as important as dribbling or passing the ball.

Read these ten tips for improving these crucial aspects of your game.

Prepare your mind for a soccer game

Pregame preparation is one of the most influential aspects of improving your overall soccer ability, especially your awareness and vision. Envisioning yourself making a play during a game is a helpful way to prepare. Eating a nutritious meal beforehand is another way to help you think clearly and quickly during a game.

Watch film of the other team

Knowing what your opponent will do before they do it is one of the best and easiest ways to improve your awareness and vision. It helps us pick out the right passes and see things on the field before they happen. This foresight gives teams an advantage before the game even starts. If you can’t watch the other team play before your game against them, analyze their movements and positioning as soon as the match begins.

Develop a strategy for the particular game

If you did the previous step of watching the other team’s film, you could implement this step much more easily. Developing a personal strategy based on what the other team will do can help you make decisions before the game even starts. If you don’t have the chance to watch the other team before your matchup, adapt during the game and pick up on the other team’s strategy as you play.

For example, if you notice on film or during the game that the other team plays with a high defensive line, that’s your team’s cue to make runs behind the back line for direct through balls toward the goal. After the other team picks up on this and plays with a deeper line of defense, you will have more space for buildup play in the attacking third.

Communicate with your teammates and coaches

Communication goes such a long way in soccer and other team sports. Coaches and players should communicate with each other throughout the game. Relaying information in real-time boosts awareness and helps players in every position make better decisions.

Defenders must be exceptional communicators as they pass off attackers to one another. Additionally, defenders call out opposing players’ locations on the field, giving this information to their midfielders, who can position themselves accordingly.

Train your brain with tactical practice

There are many ways to practice soccer, including tactical training. This type of practice is essential to player development outside of physical and technical training. Tactical training improves awareness and intelligence.

Tactical training sessions focus on team strategy and development. They typically include team talks, film sessions, and formation discussions. These strategic and targeted practices teach players what to look for during games and how to execute their team’s strategy.

Use one touch to play quickly

Using one touch is quick and effective. It moves the ball quicker than if you were to take multiple touches and keeps the other team on their toes. Knowing when to take one touch or more is a large part of awareness and intelligence.

By quickly distributing the ball after receiving a pass, you can make your next move faster. Players with high soccer intelligence use the correct amount of touches depending on the situation. If there are defenders close by, use one touch. If you have space in front of you, take the ball and dribble into it.

Constantly scan the field

This is the most crucial step to improving your soccer awareness. Being conscious of your position relative to the ball and other players is priceless.

Always take a look over your shoulder before receiving a pass. You can improve this aspect of your game during training by implementing it into any technical training drill; turn your head to look behind you any time you’re about to get the ball. Likewise, have a look around even if you aren’t going to get the ball immediately. You can never be too aware of your surroundings on the pitch.

Pass, then move

You’ve probably heard your coaches say this during training; pass and move. Movement off the ball is just as important as movement on the ball. Moving even just a few steps from where you were upon passing the ball can open up space for you or a teammate to receive the ball on the next pass.

Movement off the ball also helps vision, as players gain a new perspective of the field when they move; by adjusting your body and facing more of the field, you open yourself up to more passing options.

Watch yourself on film

One of the best ways to improve anything about yourself is to watch yourself on film. Record yourself playing or training to watch back later and improve your awareness.

Watching yourself on film invokes that “Ah ha!” moment. In soccer, watching film is a great way to realize your mistakes and decide what adjustments to make to improve. As with anything, making mistakes is part of becoming better; challenge yourself not to make the same mistake twice.

Watch the professionals play

There’s no better way to foster a better understanding of soccer than by watching the professionals play the game. Doing this will help you think like a professional and emulate the things they’re doing during games, including things like one-touch passes, positioning, looking over the shoulder, and so much more.

Watching professionals opens our eyes to possibilities and perspectives we haven’t noticed ourselves. We can watch them play at the highest level and see maximum soccer intelligence and awareness.

Sean Tinney

I’m Sean Tinney, a lifetime soccer player and Ball At Your Feet owner. This website is a hub for practical soccer advice, information, and insights from one player to another.

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