Developing Soccer Intelligence

With the World Cup 2026 heading to North America & contested within the CONCACAF regions of the USA, Mexico & Canada, the concept ‘football intelligence’ amongst the top players across the world is a hot topic – but what does it mean for coaches & how can we develop it?

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It is no secret that over the last few decades soccer has undergone a significant international transformation.

With the game growing across all FIFA confederations especially CONCACAF, ASIA & UEFA, teams try and play in an extremely dynamic way, leaving players even less time and space to take appropriate decisions & subsequent actions: high pressure, complex tactical application & penetrating passes.

Dealing with the different temperatures, humidity & logistical challenges of the 2026 World Cup will be demanding enough for the players, but the psychological strain on them as the game progresses tactically, technically & physically in the next few years will only add to the load.

It really is a game of information – where you try and hide your intentions whilst trying to anticipate & counteract your rival’s actions. 

The diversity of tactical solutions and the characteristics of the world’s best teams present the football community, with a great challenge given the professionalisation & innovation with coaching methodology & game model integration. However, with all elements of the game progressing, where are the greatest gains to be had for elite developmental coaches & managers?

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. The next step is can we quantify the technical and tactical performance of players in training in a similar way we do for competitive matches?
  2. Are we as coaches exposing our players to realistic technical, tactical & psychological situations in training that they will be faced with in matches?
  3. Do our training practices match the playing style and playing system requirements of the head coach?

 

It is no secret that during a match, players are subjected to many other stimuli causing mistakes that occur over time. Not only are these mistakes due to a lack of physical preparation or technical skills, but more so as a result of poor decision-making.

In football, the matches are generally determined as a result of the quality of performance over a period of time. Good performance also relies heavily on the decisions taken by the team on the pitch.

The decision making process overall depends on tactical awareness and the general understanding which are determined by the quantity and quality of the information collected.

Furthermore, this then effects the level of attention, awareness and how much the player can or has seen.

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Wengers Views

“The problem in football is that you learn how to play [the wrong] way round – first execution, then decision making and perception last… I have lost many top players because their head was on the ball and they were not seeing what was around them. As a player, whenever I get the ball I have to see, analyse, then decide and finally execute.” Perception plays a huge role in this. Basically, I came to the conclusion that it is about getting as much information as possible before I get the ball. I call that scanning. What is interesting is that very good players scan six to eight times in the 10 seconds before getting the ball and normal ones three to four times. That is a major step for improvement. My challenge is to get my players to know which the best choice is and make the optimal decision every time they get the ball.”
Arsene Wenger
Former AS Monaco & Arsenal FC manager

Everyone understands football in their own way but playing effectively means playing intelligently.

Intelligence is, to a great extent, the ability to perceive, understand the information gathered and adapt to the external conditions that arise during the match.

This very area, in football, depends mainly on the proper use of analysis.

Do players want to develop under the guidance of coaches who only tell them “what to do”, or is it also important for them “how” – to recognize problem situations and “how” to react to them?

How ISSPF Can Help You

Here at ISSPF we are offering people the opportunity to stay ahead of the game by becoming a real students of the game.

We aim to ensure players across all levels are exposed to the best practice in terms of coaching content, fitness, technical development, tactical analysis, soccer science & nutrition, strength & conditioning techniques & injury reduction strategies that will assist to enhance the performance of individuals and collectively teams.

Not only are we keeping things simple for individuals who are keen to progress in their own area of development within team sport and soccer.

But we are enhancing the capability to self-develop through our unique faculty of staff and elite practitioners to bring key messages and expert advice to the comfort of your own preferred learning environment.

Travelling to and from games, training, at home, in the office we have a fully functioning educational and self-developing continual professional development strategy ready to work with you through our online coaching courses.

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Join Our Soccer Performance Course

The demand for sports science, physiotherapists, and performance & coaching specialists in football & team sports is growing year upon year.

Thousands of students are leaving university with a sports science degree, physio or therapy-related qualification, however many of them asking the key question – What now? 

  • How do I get a job in football?
  • What’s the next step?
  • Which area of sport or football science & medicine do I want to specialise in?

 

This is certainly an interesting question as progressing from completing a sporting, medical or therapy-related degree to then working in professional football & trying to understanding all the key components, and soft skills that come with jobs in football or careers within sport is complex.

As a result, the bespoke courses developed by ISSPF Elite Medical & Football Science Faculty members are a way of further exposing learners, parents, professional coaches, students, or other individuals interested in football science with a thirst to develop & upskill further.

The link below will take you to the hugely popular & expertly designed ISSPF endorsed & University & Football Association accredited Soccer Science & Performance online sport science course, where you will be exposed to sports medicine & football science with a coaching science led research overview, and practical examples used by the game’s leading practitioners.

How This Course Will Improve You

  • Provides justification for the guiding of specific training methods, interventions & decision making processes within soccer.
  • Highlights the practical application of modern, research based training methods & assessment tools.
  • Provides an increased evidence & knowledge to understand key soccer science & performance processes across a range of coaching science topics.
  • Discusses the most efficient training methods and detailed insights into developing player fitness alongside rehabilitation & training methodologies.
  • Learn from industry experts in the area of football science, nutrition, sport science & performance training in team sports.
  • Help maximise your decision making through a better understanding & appreciation of football or soccer science.

What Does This Course Cover?

Outline of the Soccer Science & Performance Course:

Module 1: The demands of professional soccer: Physiological costs of the game
Lecturer: Dr. Vasilis Kalapthorakos (Greece)
Topic: Physiology

Module 2: Developing Resilience in Soccer: Mental Skill Development
Lecturer: Nikki Crawley (England)
Topic: Psychology

Module 3: Game model building & development: Reinterpreting Tactical Periodisation
Lecturer: Dr. Alejandro Romero-Caballero (Spain)
Topic: Training Methodology

Module 4: Injury reduction strategies in professional soccer
Lecturer: Dr. Patrick Orme (England)
Topic: Injury Prevention

Module 5: Leadership and Culture for High Performance Soccer
Lecturer: Maximillian Lankheit (Germany)
Topic: Psychology

Module 6: Current trends in leading European soccer teams: In-Possession
Lecturer: Chris Meek (England)
Topic: Performance Analysis

Module 7: Soccer nutrition & the role of the nutritionist
Lecturer: Matthew Jones (England)
Topic: Nutrition

Module 8: Competitive soccer training microcycle: Structure & justification
Lecturer: Dr. Manuel Segovia (Spain)
Topic: Training Methodology

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