- Reaction Time
- Ball Tracking
- Goalie Skills
- Spatial Relations
Locate a quick moving ball off a pass or shot. Impacts general ball control (dribbling and passing).
Scan the field to locate a potential pass. Judge the speed and trajectory of defensive players across the field.
Impacts a keeper’s judgment on coming out for a save and enables players to successfully tackle and navigate tight spaces.
Increases precision in movements and probability of hitting intended target (i.e. a pass or shot on goal).
Recognize formations, set pieces, and situations. Enhances spatial and positional awareness.
Anticipate the flight of the ball and success-rate of trapping. Locate incoming shot through traffic. Enhances general monitoring of developing play.
A forward is typically judged on their goal-scoring abilities. Those who have the physical and technical skills, but also the visual capabilities to hit the target precisely where they want to, are among the best in the world. Without proper visual alignment, a forward might not hit their intended shot on goal, let alone the back of the net. Forwards who are considered ‘poachers’ near the net have a unique ability to always be in the right place at the right time and score. This involves excellent recognition and tracking skills to understand a developing play and anticipate where the ball is going, either off a deflection or save, or off a set piece.
World-class midfielders may possess elite convergence, divergence and recognition abilities. Soccer matches are often won by the dominance of a midfielder, and players who have strong convergence skills, can possess and maintain control of the ball throughout the course of a match. Excellent divergence skills allow the best midfielders to scan and analyze the field to find and make their next pass, often through a narrow window. Having great spatial and positional awareness to feel an oncoming defender and maintain possession requires superb recognition skills. Midfielders are also excellent at reading the game and recognizing offensive and defensive development based on their ability to see and process visual targets.
Defenders have a special ability to constantly track the ball, all while monitoring the opposing team’s offensive players to ensure no one is running in behind them. Often defenders will misjudge a dribbling opponent or the ball’s distance, speed, or direction and will get beat by the player or have to commit a foul as a result. Having strong depth perception can aid a defender’s ability to judge the ball on the field and, if required, successfully make a tackle without fouling. Recognition and tracking play a vital role as a defender, and being able to read and anticipate an opponent’s developing attack can help to secure a clean sheet. Since the ball spends a good amount of time in the air throughout the course of a match, it is also important for defenders to be able to adequately see and track the ball in the air in order to know when to jump and head the ball.
Goalkeepers are constantly under fire, especially late into a match when the opposing team is pressing the attack in an attempt to score. Keepers are similar to defenders, in that having excellent recognition and tracking skills are imperative, but possessing strong convergence ability will further enhance their dominance between the posts and help keep a clean sheet. Keepers who are able to fully track and locate a quick moving ball – from the moment it leaves an opponent’s head or foot – increases the likelihood of getting into position to make a save. Goalkeeper coaches always harp on the ‘second save’ skill that is required of keepers to quickly get up and react after making the initial save. Anticipating where the ball might go either on a corner kick, free kick, or even a penalty, can help the keeper quickly get into position and even come out to make a save or punch the ball away out of the box.