Coach Blog

An Athlete’s Library

Are we teaching a player to kick a ball or play football?

One requires simple mechanics and one requires remarkable cognitive capacity.

The more we delve into the research around neuroscience, the more we realize how far we have strayed from sound pedagogical practices. 

So, let’s take this head on. (Pun intended)

What does a footballer need to do?

Build a library.

Construct and store patterns so that when a familiar situation arises, the athlete will have solutions readily available. ‘Seen it before, solved it before. No worries now. I go this without even being able to articulate how I got this.

“A decision is made based on patterns before the brain communicates with our motor cortex to move the ball. While the game is chaotic, there are only a certain number of patterns to recognise, so players develop a memory capacity for the game, its patterns and movements.” (Dr. John Sullivan)

At TOVO we call this cognitive scaffolding. We help a player solve ever more complex cognitive challenges through vision and precision. Our athletes are cataloguing substructures that are repeatedly found within the context of competition.

“This process is a very fast coordination effort of the lower and upper centres of the brain. They are accessing a database of simulations stored in their brain and the more emotional and cognitive resources that are available, the more accurate and quicker the decisions.” (Dr. John Sullivan)

Is this a quick fix? No.

How long does it take to build a library of resources? Quite some time in fact. Children are amassing volumes of situations and filing them based upon the frequency of occurrence. Pretty arduous task indeed. However, they can do it, will do it, and enjoy doing it when we put them into a cognitively rich environment. That is our task as a coach.

Training is a child’s opportunity to construct a library of situations and assign solutions to each one.

Competitive and contextual challenges afford an athlete the opportunity to couple intelligence with emotional control.

“When information-processing needs increase, that can overwhelm some players, but if they’re able to stay calm and manage their energy, they can make smarter decisions in a matter of milliseconds.” (Dr. John Sullivan)

So we come back to our responsibility as educators.

Are we teaching a player to kick a ball or are we teaching them to play football?

Caution. Library under construction.

Reprinted with kind permission from Todd Beane
Founder of TOVO Training and TOVO Academy Barcelona. In TOVO Training, Beane has combined proven pedagogical practices of experts in the field of education with the visionary components of a total football legend into a dynamic and practical training methodology.

Christchurch United FC is rethinking Talent Development with TOVO Academy Barcelona which is regarded the best holistic program in Europe for players aiming to excel in football and beyond.

"Training extraordinary educators and crazy good coaches." - Todd Beane

Todd Beane