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Cognitive processes in Soccer

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Ivan Kepčija

on 6 January 2014

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Transcript of Cognitive processes in Soccer

In includes ACTION - the ability to perform specific actions in the game, in an emergency situation and under the opponent’s pressure.
and INTERVENTION - the ability to act as quickly as possible with a maximum of efficiency using the cognitive, technical, physical, and tactical abilities
Anticipation or Reaction
the ability for athletes to set some goals and make decisions about the implementation of a specific game
Hick's Law
happens in the brain, not the senses
selective - ties with game understanding
top-down processing - brain compares to already familiar concepts and what it expects to see based on experience
It is a process that, based on previous experiences and activation of cognitive functions, allows predicting the development of an action and to program subsequent actions and responses. It is often referred to as “reading the game”.
the ability to respond to a stimuli (audio, visual, tactile, kinesthetic) and allows the player to start an action or change one already under way in the shortest
Simple (known), or
complex (unknown)
Sources of information:
Additional exercises for focus:
broad to narrow external
narrow to broad internal
intention leads to attention!
(link to game understanding and cues for anticipation)
Can these elements be trained?
If so, how?

Dimensions of focus

Width of focus
Direction of focus
e.g. GK catching a ball and focusing on reading the word/number
e.g. 3-team possession game;
passing to a specific color; playing to the third/fourth man
observe inner environment - how do i feel, what am i thinking about?
e.g. focus on a specific muscle of breath
action - positive self-talk,
imagery and breathing techniques
using one's senses to create or re-create an experience in the mind
the brain doesn't know the difference between what is imagined and what happened - the same neurons fire
controllability and vividness
has to be positively directed
higher levels of confidence, motivation and attentional focus; lower anxiety
Enriched training
Isolated exercises:
Time and space orientation
the whole game is based on time and space orientation
e.g. space creation (individual and collective, evaluation of ball trajectory, a teammates run, etc.)
demands on being at a certain place at a certain time - e.g. as the winger makes a run inside, the outside back to occupy that space
synchronicity training
ability to adhere to multiple tasks at the same time
in soccer - gather information from outside and manipulate the ball (e.g. look around while the ball is traveling, or dribbling the ball, but not watching it)
How to do it? By enriching training exercises with cognitive demands:
identify colors/numbers/signals (perception) based on which a decision is made
calculate or talk while manipulating the ball
passing only in a specific sequence or color
e.g. in circular passing or possession games
Knowledge of the game
Understanding of principles of offense and defense
Knowledge of the cues of the game - better anticipation
Proper attribution, coping mechanisms
Connecting training exercises with game situations - coach to explain and connect a small-sided game with position on the field
Video analysis
Understanding what the coach demands
Understanding what it takes to be a pro vs amateur (discipline, fun, effectiveness, mental strength) and how to develop it

the ability to selectively attend to appropriate cues in the game, (environment or internal stimuli), while screening out irrelevant and distracting stimuli.

Being focused, means being in the present, in the
here and now
Cognitive processes
in Soccer

Sense of control
(autonomy, mastery, purpose)
Character and
character development
Warrior mentality

Mental toughness
Coping mechanisms
Mental well-being
Physical well-being
Less injuries
Increased Coachability
Explanatory style/ Attribution
The player
Self and the world

Self-regulation/ Arousal control
Emotional state
arousal level
Physical state
fitness level
hormonal state
Speed of processing
Mental capacity
knowledge of the game
- cues, what to look for?
stimulus is
simple (known), or
complex (unknown)
Pre-performance routine
Goal setting
Motivational climate
Leadership style
Sport psychologist Psychological skills
Team management and pedagogy

Adaptation and transformation
the ability to change an already initiated action, replacing it with one considered more effective
e.g. striker about to shoot, but changing the decision because of an on coming defender sliding in block, faking a shot and opening a new angle for a shot
training: introducing a passive defender/signal to do a specific thing at the last moment before the intended action is executed
Goal orientation
Improved skillset
Social support
Dispositional hope (sense of control in setting and achieving goals)
Productive (high personal standards) vs unproductive (concern about criticism, worry about outcome, doubt about ability)
trust vs distrust
cooperation vs competition
love vs fear
refers to the perception of the world in regards with beliefs of attribution related to achievement and success.

Fixed mindset
belief that people's basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits
perception that talent alone creates success—without effort
studies have shown that they are wrong.

Growth mindset.
belief that people's abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work - talent are just the starting point.
this view creates a love of learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishment
Optimism vs Pessimism
explanatory style is a habitual way of interpreting events is developed in childhood and adolescence and “stems directly from your view of your place in the world, whether you think you are valuable and deserving, or worthless and hopeless” (Seligman)
Three dimensions

permanence - will it happen again?
pervasiveness - will it generalize to other concepts, parts of life/game
personalization - is the person responsible for events happening?

Errors are treated as temporary, specific to that one practice or game or correctable, and atypical of one’s potential.
Successes are seen as more permanent, more general, and certainly more indicative of one’s true abilities.
Fighter mentality
Attribution bias'
Fundamental attribution error
Culture bias
Actor/observer difference
Dispositional attributions
Self-serving bias
Defensive attribution bias

As a consequence of a defense mechanism which relinquishes any responsibility off an individual, a habit is created which can lead to a sense of powerlessness and inability to change one's destiny.
This happens when people attribute negative results to their internal, stable and global factors leading them to think they have no control over their situation.
Victim mentality
the ability to know one's emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
Self-concept, self-acceptance, self-esteem and self-efficacy – these terms refer to the way a player views themselves in the team (and broader) setting and the beliefs they hold about themselves (self-concept and self-acceptance), their own ability to play soccer (self-efficacy) and ability in general (self-esteem)
involves controlling or redirecting one's disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances
IZOF - individual zones of optimal functioning
to find these zones, players have to use relaxation or activation techniques
“You are blessed when you are content with just who you are - no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought” - Matthew 5:5

being a student of the game
understanding the demands of top level soccer
understanding sacrifice
challenge, not a problem
fun, not hard to perfecting skills
warrior, not a victim
What does it mean?
Relaxation techniques:

muscle-to-mind techniques
Breathing exercises (slower and deeper breathing)
progressive relaxation (PR)
mind-to-muscle techniques
autogenic training
relaxing music

Activation techniques

Breathing (faster and shallower)
Energizing imagery or music
Energizing verbal cues
Energizing movements (summersault, aggressive physical contact, coping routing that involves breathing, physical motion and thought stopping/focusing - “breathe, bounce, break”)
Emotional control
Transferring energy from an emotion
(anger evoked by an old loss, other team’s statements; confidence evoked by training quality or past success)
Storing excess energy for later use

How does one explain to others
a mistake/deception?
often unconscious habits that need to be brought to consciousness to be changed
are they excuses or explanations?
where does responsibility lay?
do they create a fighter or a victim?

Acceptance: Take the blame, with integrity.
Accident: I couldn't help it.
Apology: Saying sorry.
Explaining: Extenuating circumstances.
Misunderstanding: I didn't mean it like that.
Social Priority: Family/friend emergency.


Bolstering: I'm a nice person. I can't have done it.
Common Practice: Everybody does it.
Counterattack: Fight back, personally.
Deflection: Pointing the finger elsewhere.
Distraction: Change the subject.
Forgetting: Memory fade.
Minimization: Making a big thing seem small.
Moral Indignation: Claim the high ground.
Provocation: Wind them up.
Unlikely: Make it improbable.

Neutral or could be both:

External forces: The dog ate it.
Good Intention: I was trying to be nice.
Illness: I was too sick.
Restitution: Offering compensation.
Transcendence: A higher purpose.

Stability of performance

Performance under pressure
facilitative interpretations of anxiety
well-learned and automatic coping skills
proper attribution --> refocusing plans and strategies
Reduced anxiety and fear
Increased awareness and consciousness levels
responsibility for life/team/success
Faster maturation and development as person
Improved social relations and support
Improved cohesion and sense of belonging
Increased levels of self- confidence and self-efficacy
more frequent and deeper feeling of
More developed positive coping skills on and off the field
Stable coordination
(in circumstances under pressure)
Undisrupted quality of cognitive processes (perception, decision-making and action)
MEDIATORS - level 1
MEDIATORS - level 2
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