Helping Soccer Coaches Teach How To ‘Read The Field’

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

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“11+ Kids” Program Reduces Soccer Injuries in Children Interview with:
“Spring Soccer” by terren in Virginia is licensed under CC BY 2.0Roland Rössler PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow
Dept of Public and Occupational Health
Amsterdam Collaboration on Health and Safety in Sports
VU University Medical Center What is the background for this study?

Response: Previous studies have shown that exercise-based injury prevention programmes can reduce the number of sport injuries. However, no previous study investigated the prevention of football (soccer) injuries in children under the age of 14 years [1], even though the number of football players under 14 years of age could be estimated as around 15 million worldwide. In comparison, only about 100,000 players, so 150 times less, are considered professional players (earning enough money to live from playing football). The large number of children playing football and the fact that every year about 10% of these players sustain an injury, indicates the relevance of injury prevention in this population.

Based on the existing “11+” programme (that has been designed for players from the age of 14 years onwards) and our epidemiological data on injuries in football players under 14 years of age [2, 3], we developed and pilot tested an injury prevention programme for 7- to 13-year-old children (called “11+ Kids”) with an international group of experts.[4]

We designed the present cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate whether the “11+ Kids” programme reduces the incidence of injuries in children’s football.

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