How athletes can improve their scanning and perceptions of BOTS

The number one aspect that separates elite players from amateur is the ability to make quick decisions under pressure. Elite athletes are better able to process information, and frequently take in more information when scanning their surroundings, even if scanning for shorter periods of time. But scanning, information processing and attention to detail are all skills that can be worked upon by athletes at any level, in any sport.

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Game of Numbers #17 – Valentín Castellanos – Scanning to score four against Real Madrid

Castellanos had one of the greatest games of his life, netting 4 goals against last season's Champions League victors. He became the first player in the 21st century to score four against Los Blancos in a league game, and did so with just 6 shots. With that, let's dissect how "Taty" Castellanos scanned for success in his heroic performance against one of the world's best sides.

Understanding BOTS & how to scan for quicker, correct decisions

Scanning goes far beyond what must coaches will shout out: "check your shoulder!". It needs to encompass a constant process of neck and eye movement, assessing ball, opposition, teammates and space.

Keira Walsh – Player Analysis

Keira Walsh is brilliant. You know it. I know it. And thanks to the Women's European Championships, the whole world knows it too. In today's masterclass, I dissect that brilliance in a long-form Player Analysis, helping you and I come to a greater understanding of how you too can play (or coach) with the brilliance of Keira Walsh. Here is our analysis.

Recognizing and playing to your teammates’ strengths in football

Each situation in football is unique, and that means every player must endeavour to scan the field at every turn, allowing for appropriate adjustments to each specific situation in the quest to properly perform the next action. But beyond the act of scanning the field, players must have a keen understanding of their own teammates' strengths and weaknesses.

Improving your tactical understanding as a player

Historically, we've tailored our content toward coaches and fans of the beautiful game, attempting to use our content for practical application in the game. But more and more we find ourselves interacting with players wanting to take their tactical understanding to the next level. On the one hand, it's amazing to see players taking initiative, and recognizing the intertwined nature of the tactical side to superiority in all other "corners" of the game. But simultaneously, this points to somewhat of a hole in coaching practice and common dogmas, where the technical and physical components are still prioritized, without enough regard for the tactical elements of football. Here is how to improve your tactical understanding as a player.

Understanding ball, opposition, teammates and space

Nothing can exist in football without perceptions of ball, opposition, teammates and space (BOTS for short if you want!). While there may never be one unequivocally correct answer to any given footballing problem, players can more adequately assess for decision making through muscle memory, experience, automatisms, sheer intelligence, and studying the tips in this article. But those same players, analysts and coaches must also recognize the deeply-rooted tandem bike quadracycle nature of the four elements of the game, and how they all co-exist to work in harmony.

Kevin de Bruyne Masterclass vs. Wolves – Tactical Analysis

Currently in the process of chasing down a fourth Premier League title under Pep Guardiola, Kevin de Bruyne has taken charge of Manchester City's dominance in the last few months, rising above the rest as a completely untouchable figurehead in the team. Last night saw the Belgian score four goals in a single match, taking his tally up to 15 for the season - his most in a single Premier League campaign. With that, we break down the tactical elements of Kevin de Bruyne's masterclass against a normally stern Wolves defense, and how the Belgian led his team to a smashing 5-1 victory.

The real problem with Harry Maguire’s defending

Let's face it. You're tired of hearing about Harry Maguire. So are we! So with that, we debunk the Harry Maguire myth, and pose an alternative perspective as to why he's having a "difficult season" for Manchester United.

Coaching Automatisms – Rehearsed Patterns of Play

In the past few years, I have adopted an almost entirely games-based approach to coaching. Everything is based within scenarios and situations players encounter in the game, and related to rehearsed actions on where to be in different situations players encounter on a football pitch. These are what the footballing world call "patterns of play", and what some top managers in the game have dubbed "automatizations".

Session Plan – Spatial Awareness & Switching Play

Recently I have heard much in the way of what I would classify as "misinformation" regarding the readiness of youth players to learn tactical concepts like switching play. Switching play as a tactical concept ultimately comes down to recognizing space and making decisions based on that spatial awareness. Switching play doesn't mean crossing a long-ball forty/fifty yards from one side of the field to the other. It is about recognizing the space to see the opportunity of when space is condensed, versus when space is available and what to do in both of those situations. It is therefore an essential concept that can be taught to players of just about any age. Here is a session plan and key coaching points to match, all about spatial awareness and switching play!