“Girl Playing Soccer” by Bold Content is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Helping Soccer Coaches Teach How To ‘Read The Field’

“Girl Playing Soccer” by Bold Content is licensed under CC BY 2.0MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Craig Pulling. MSc, PGCE, BA (Hons), FHEA
Head of Physical Education
University of Chichester

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Successful perceptual-cognitive skill in team-sports such as football requires players to pick up task-relevant information during the control of action in complex and dynamic situations. It has been proposed that players could perform visual exploratory activity (VEA) to be able to recognise important cues in the playing environment. VEA is defined as:

“A body and/or head movement in which the player’s face is actively and temporarily directed away from the ball, seemingly with the intention of looking for teammates, opponents or other environmental objects or events, relevant to perform a subsequent action with the ball” (Jordet, 2005, p.143).

Research has suggested that VEA is an important facet of skilled performance in youth and adult football. However, it is currently unknown whether such evidence is commensurate with the views of coaches and whether coaching practices are utilised to develop VEA in training.

In order to further current understanding on VEA and coaching practices, the present study developed an online survey to examine:
(i) when VEA should be introduced in coaching;
(ii) how VEA is delivered by coaches and
(iii) how coaches evaluate VEA.

Further, this study aimed to explore whether distinct groups of football coaches existed who differed in their approach to the delivery of VEA training and, if so, whether there were differences in the demographics of the coaches across these differentiated groups.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: This study did not explore peripheral vision, it only investigated coaches perceptions of visual exploratory activity. Cluster analysis identified three clusters of coaches, which were distinguished by the extent to which coaches engaged in the delivery of VEA training: Low VEA, Moderate VEA and High VEA. The High delivery of VEA training cluster were likely to provide more feedback/instruction on VEA; they designed an activity or part of a session to focus on VEA more often; and the percentage of sessions they would primarily focus on VEA was higher compared to the Moderate delivery of VEA training and Low delivery of VEA training clusters. It appears that a higher coaching qualification and experience (years coached and number of hours coached per week) leads to a positive attitude of coaching VEA.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The critical factors that determine the use of coaching practices to develop VEA appear to be the qualification and experience of the coach. For football associations, this indicates that they would benefit from helping coaches to progress through the coaching qualification pathways and to provide appropriate opportunities for coaches to develop coaching experiences. Moreover, it may be worthwhile for inexperienced coaches to work alongside experienced coaches who can act as mentors to help them develop their coaching practice. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The current article has only explored the perceptions of coaches regarding the introduction, delivery and evaluation of VEA. Direct observation of coaching practice, coupled with retrospective interviews to establish the rationale behind selected behaviours and practice activities would provide a richer description of how coaches aim to develop VEA.

Declarations of interest: none.

Funding source: none.


Jordet, G. (2005). Perceptual training in soccer: An imagery intervention study with elite players. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 17, 140-156.

Reference for the current article

Pulling, C., Kearney, P., Eldridge, D., & Dicks, M. (2018). Exploring football coaches’ perceptions of the introduction, delivery and evaluation of visual exploratory activity. Psychology for Sport and Exercise.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.08.001 

[wysija_form id=”3″]


The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.


Last Updated on September 14, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD