Intelligence in Football: Conceptualizations, Developmental Methodologies and Behaviors
Abstract: Aim: In elite football (also known as soccer), practitioners are in constant pursuit of understanding essential performance parameters and how they can be developed. As every executed football action is governed by a decision, a player’s ability to make intelligent decisions during play is vitally important for success. This concept of a player’s “football intelligence” is complex and at times ambiguous for practitioners both at the elite and sub-elite level. The present work aims to provide some clarity regarding the phenomena of intelligence in football. Methods: Semi-structured interviews with 8 well-merited professional coaches from multiple countries were conducted, asking them three main questions; how do they conceptualize football intelligence? What developmental methodologies do they implement to address football intelligence, and in what practical behaviors do players manifest football intelligence? Responses were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using qualitative research methods. Results: The results give insight into what can be summarized as components of football intelligence, such as concepts of anticipation and information processing. Additionally, a number of different methodologies including functional training and pedagogical approaches to develop football intelligence emerged. Furthermore, some specific behaviors performed by intelligent players, such as information-seeking actions, were exemplified. Conclusions: Based on the results, a conceptual framework for better understanding the phenomena and potentially improving practical interactions with football intelligence are presented and discussed. Finally, practical recommendations for coaches and players are suggested, along with suggestions for further academic research.
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