Cognitive requirement profile in football

First of all, a common understanding of the term "cognition" will be briefly introduced. Cognition is an overall term which refers to the process of perception, recognition, understanding and judgment of a persons actions. There is a complex connection between cognition and behaviour and their influence on each other. Intelligence is necessary for cognition to a certain extent and includes understanding, acting in a goal-oriented manner, thinking rationally and dealing efficiently with the environment.

While scientific knowledge is already very advanced in many areas of football, it still lags behind in sports psychology. In football not only physical but also psychological factors are crucial. These abilities can determine whether or not an athlete is able to manage the step into a professional team. It has been described, that 14 to 16-year-old competitive athletes perform significantly better in football under pressure and have a greater ability to concentrate and to react. This refers not only to the sport itself, but also to life outside football.

Players must be able to quickly evaluate information about the ball, teammates and opponents on the pitch before considering an appropriate action. This decision must be based on their own abilities, the coach's instructions and the current game situation. It is therefore essential for an ambitious player to develop an adequate cognitive level to be able to read the game.

Based on current knowledge, it is clear that there are age differences in the psychological development of athletes. In youth academies, it is the task of the coaches to support the physical and technical development as well as the personality development of talented young athletes. Psychological characteristics have therefore been integrated into talent identification and development.

Psychological factors including motivation, self-confidence, fear control, mental preparation, team emphasis and concentration are important and determine the performance of the players. Self-confidence is another important psychological factor.

Situational sports such as football are characterised by a dynamic, changing and unpredictable environment, which is why football players develop more flexibility in terms of visual attention, decision making and action handling.

Two types of cognition can be defined. Basic information processing requires subordinate cognitive processes such as reaction time, psychomotor performance and visually perceptible skills. Superordinate cognitive functions are usually referred to as executive functions. These are significantly involved in the control and regulation of subordinate cognitive processes such as reaction time, which enable goal-oriented, future-oriented behaviour.

In this article it was shown that cognition is a crucial component of performance in football. The training of these skills is versatile and complex. However, it can be integrated into the everyday training process, so that both physical and mental training is provided. In order to make it feasible, we have created various training exercises and catalogues on these training complexes. You can find them on our website.



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