10 Ways Coaches Can Help Players Raise Their Soccer IQ

Boost soccer IQ with these coaching strategies to help your players make smarter decisions on the field, improve their game, & more.
soccer coach

by Charles LaCalle

Charles works with Trace to educate teams and parents on using video effectively for player development and recruiting.

As soccer continues to evolve, it is crucial to equip your players with not only physical prowess but also the abilities to outwit opponents and make split-second decisions. In this blog, we explore the importance of soccer IQ, unlocking the secrets to enhancing your players’ tactical awareness, decision-making, and game-changing impact on the field.

What is soccer IQ?

Soccer IQ is a term used to describe a player’s ability to understand the game and make good decisions on the field in real time. Soccer IQ allows players to predict how and where a play will unfold, when to pass, and when to shoot. It is a combination of factors, including technical skills, tactical knowledge, spatial awareness, and decision-making ability.

The good news is that it’s a skill that can be developed through training and experience, which you can help your players achieve.

Why is soccer IQ important? 

Soccer IQ is important for any player trying to reach their full potential. The biggest reason is that soccer IQ can help players make better decisions on the field. This can lead to more goals scored, fewer goals conceded, and a more successful team overall. 

Second, soccer IQ also helps players stay calm and focused under pressure. This is especially important in high-pressure situations, such as when playing in a big game or when trailing late in the match.

Lastly, soccer IQ can help players learn from their mistakes. By understanding why they made a misplay or hesitated, players are more likely to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

10 ways coaches can help their players raise their soccer IQ

By taking advantage of your time in practice to go over these tips and opportunities, players will begin picking up on how to improve faster and faster:

  1. Teach spatial awareness. Players with good spatial awareness can see open spaces on the field and create scoring chances for themselves and their teammates.
  2. Put players in different positions. Playing different positions can help players develop a better understanding of the game because they learn how to see the field from different perspectives and how to make decisions that are in the best interests of the team, not just for their usual position.
  3. Provide 1:1 feedback. Coaches should provide feedback to their players on their performance that should be constructive and focused on helping players improve their game. Using specific video highlights and game film is one of the best ways to reinforce your feedback because most players are visual learners.
  4. Set goals. Coaches should set goals for their players that are challenging but achievable. When players reach their goals, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and helps them build confidence. 
  5. Practice imagination. Players need to develop a mental capacity to predict how different scenarios will unfold and anticipate different scenarios in real time. Show players video of how plays were set up successfully in the past so they can better imagine and recognize these scenarios when playing future games.
  6. Make watching game video a habit. Watching game film can help players learn from their mistakes and improve their decision-making. Seeing the game unfold from a bird’s eye view helps players see how their decisions impact the team as a whole.
  7. Talk about the game. Coaches should talk to their players about each game as well. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as through individual instruction, group discussions, and group film sessions.
  8. Play against better competition. Playing against better competition will help players improve their skills and develop their soccer IQ. Coaches should schedule games against teams that are better than their own team so players can see how others might exploit holes in their defense, defend against your attacks, and more.
  9. Practice set plays. Set plays give the team a chance to plan and execute a specific play with fewer external factors. They often involve players who are not typically involved in the scoring chances, such as defenders and midfielders. This gives team members a chance to see and understand the importance of positions other than their own. 
  10. Watch and analyze professional soccer games. Watching the pros is fun, inspiring, and educational. Young players can internalize how each position is interacting with each other and working together to create scoring opportunities, or how a team’s formation affected the outcome of a game. The important thing to do as you watch is to question why the players made the decisions they made. 

By following these tips, you’ll help your players raise their soccer IQ and become better players.

Improve soccer IQ with effective film analysis

Watching game film is one of the most effective ways for coaches to help their players raise their soccer IQ. By watching highlights, players can see what they did well and stay motivated, even after a loss. Watching mistakes can help players better understand what they did wrong and internalize what needs to be done to improve for the next game. 

Here are some bonus tips for coaches on how to use game film effectively:

  • Start by watching the film yourself. This will give you a chance to identify the things you want to talk to your players about.
  • When you watch the film with your players, start by focusing on the positive. Point out the things they did well and how they can build on those successes.
  • Use constructive criticism. Provide players with actionable advice on how they can learn from their mistakes and improve, what drills might help them move forward, and what they can do on their own time to improve. 
  • Ask questions. Get your players involved in the discussion by asking them questions about what they see on the film. This will help them think critically. 
  • Make it fun. Watching highlights and game video should be a learning experience, but it should also be fun. Make sure to keep the discussion light and positive.

This can be made even easier with Trace’s video systems that automatically record, edit, and deliver film to each player, lowering the barrier for improvements. From powerful, AI-driven features like PlayerFocus to shareable playlists and actionable progress insights, Trace makes it easier for coaches to get the most out of their team, and for players to get the most out of their time on the field.

  • Get tracing today
Wondering how Trace might fit into your game plan? Take a look at our membership packages.