Within a single game in a team sport setting, there are thousands of decisions made by players on the field, court, ice or whatever other sport surface you can imagine. While simplistic in theory, the reality is that decisions win or lose games. Yes, sport skill plays a major role…but that skill cannot be produced without making a decision to do so.
Therefore, I believe it is important to involve decision making within training and practice to prepare athletes for competitive games.
A sport coach can only do so much; once an athlete enters a field (let’s continue with soccer here), it is up to them to take control of their decision making- the coach no longer has a substantial impact on the game.
Teaching an athlete to recognize space is an important component of field sports. A soccer coach will often tell players to ”move into space” – but what exactly does that mean? If a player cannot recognize space it is probable that the team will not be very effective in competition.
Last night I introduced U16 and U17 players to some basic strength and conditioning exercises as well as agility training. For an introduction to decision based agility training, I paired athletes up on the half-way line of an indoor futsal court. Athlete A was slightly in front of Athlete B and was tasked with the decision of A) sprinting straight towards the goal B) sprinting 15 yards to the left and C) sprinting 15 yards to the right. Athlete B was instructed to sprint in the same direction as Athlete A, with the aim of staying as close as possible/catching Athlete B.
In the coming weeks, the prompts for movement (straight, right, left) will be less restricted and therefore more open-ended which will attempt to mimic the specific sport setting.