Found an interesting article about the importance of creating soccer-smart players. BBC Sport On-Line: “Countless reasons have been put forward to explain England’s repeated failure at international tournaments, so here is another one – a lack of (football) intelligence.”

Key take-aways…

Belgian UEFA A-License coach Michel Bruyninckx looks at “brain-centered learning” as the last frontier in developing top players.

“Skilfulness will only grow if we better understand the mental part of developing a player.”

We (obviously) do nothing without thinking about it first. So why is there no focus on training that aspect of a player’s development?

“You have to present new activities that players are not used to doing. If you repeat exercises too much the brain thinks it knows the answers,” Bruyninckx added. By constantly challenging the brain and making use of its plasticity you discover a world that you thought was never available. Once the brain picks up the challenge you create new connections and gives remarkable results.”

“It’s about letting ‘competition’ go and opting for ‘education and apprenticeship’.”

The Dutch have long known that it is only by playing intelligent soccer can you realize the potential of the player. Athleticism is all well and good, but if you’re playing without insight or purpose, as Harry says on the DVD, you might as well run around like a chicken with its head cut off!

All of this multi-syllabic talk of creating dynamic training sessions, never repeating exercises and brain plasticity is interesting. However, if you as a coach, like Dutch-trained coaches, use a game-centered approach to teaching your players, you will automatically create dynamic, never repeating exercises where the brain’s plasticity is developed to the utmost. Oh, and by the way, the players will have fun while they’re at it.

More here…