Whether you already watch a lot of soccer or are planning to start watching more, let’s explore the benefits that come along with cheering on your favorite teams and players.
I got the opportunity to chat with USWNT and Manchester City center back Abby Dahlkemper, and she talked about just how important watching the game has been for her. She cited that it’s not only watching soccer over the years, but paying attention to minor details, that has helped her get to the highest level. “There’s just so much [to watch], and it’s so cool that you’re never done learning. Still to this day I’ll watch.”
Here are some of the benefits of watching soccer:
Gain a better understanding of positioning and movement. Tactics cannot simply be learned on a whiteboard or in the classroom. There’s an aspect of watching players’ move on the field–in relation to the other players–that cannot be replaced in terms of a learning experience. A lot of what you can take away from watching games doesn’t necessarily need to be done in a start-stop-replay analytical format. That system can help you to notice details, but even just watching the game more casually to enjoy it, you’ll subconsciously notice a lot–without having it broken down.
Who to Watch: Robert Lewandowski’s (Bayern Munich) movement in the box. When does he change direction or change pace? Does he have certain signature runs he makes, so the passer knows where to find him? How does he lose his defender? What’s he doing if the ball doesn’t initially go to him?
Fubo TV provides streaming access to most games to watch your favorite players.
Improve your soccer intelligence. The beauty of the sport is that the majority of play is improvisational. Players must adjust and re-adjust on the fly, usually without any input from a coach in the moment. Something Abby pointed out that she always notices about players she is watching is, “The way they play depends on the opponent they’re playing. Is the defender playing against a really fast forward? Their spacing, their movement to drop-step. As you get higher up, the difference between players is very, very slim.” So noticing what helps top players succeed can help you succeed as well.
Who to Watch: Catarina Macario’s (Olympique Lyonnais) variety of movement. How does she play when she’s faster than the defender she’s up against? How does she play when she can’t beat her opponent with speed? What does she do to stay involved in the play when she hasn’t gotten a lot of the ball? What is her next move after making a mistake?
Ata Football provides free access to live, on-demand women’s matches.
Help with your decision-making. Watching how players deal with various situations on the field can help you to make decisions when you’re in a similar situation yourself. As you use the guided training in the Techne app to develop your skill set, it’s vital to know when and where to use those skills, and how to apply them on the field. When Abby watches games, here’s something she focuses on: “Trying to pay attention to certain players and see areas of the game that they’re really good at, and see the way that they’ll strike a ball or beat a player. Really focus on the details of their movement, their technique, their plant foot, the way they pass the ball.” Seeing how and when top players use various skills can help with your transfer of skill onto the field.
Who to Watch: Kevin De Bruyne’s (Manchester City) variety of passing. Does he play the ball on the ground or in the air? Which foot does he use? When does he put spin or texture on the ball? Analyze the timing of his passes and what he may see that other players don’t (his vision). When does he pass vs. dribble vs. shoot?
CBS All-Access is where you can watch Champions League games.
An individual relationship with the sagame. Lastly, and maybe most important, at Techne we always talk about helping players to create an individual relationship with the game. Watching the game is a massive part of this relationship. If you support a team or love watching certain players, that is something that will stick with you far past your own playing days. Players who watch soccer are able to foster a unique understanding, as well as a long-term love and appreciation for the sport.