One quality that great soccer players have in common is exceptional vision. A good vision allows you to see passes on time and know where your teammates are on the pitch. It also allows you to know when your opponent is close when you are with the ball.
- Good vision is not an innate gift. Any soccer player can learn and perfect it
- Scanning the field all the time is an important part of having good vision
- Scanning the pitch helps you to be aware of the position of your teammates, opponent players, and spaces behind the opposition defense.
- Ping pong, eye muscle exercise, and virtual reality are important training that can help you to increase soccer vision
Having exceptional vision means being aware of what is happening at the far end of the pitch rather than just what is happening around you. While vision is arguably the most important soccer skill, many soccer players spend their time building other skills while leaving out vision.
Vision and awareness go hand-in-hand in soccer. Vision is often used to define what the eyes can see while awareness is knowing what is around you.
“Some people look without seeing,” is a phrase motivational speakers often reference. In other words, while their eyes are visibly open, they lack the perception of what is around them.
While there is usually a higher emphasis on midfielders to have good vision, every single player on the pitch needs it. If you have been struggling with how to increase soccer vision, we will unveil the secret to you.
How to increase soccer vision?
A great vision is an uncanny sense that allows you to anticipate actions in soccer. You anticipate where the player will pass the ball and react to be there to meet the ball. Xavi Alonso is one of the players that is highly admired for his vision.
Great midfielders usually have incredible vision such that they can spot when a striker is about to make a run and give them a long pass. Good vision allows you to see all the options available to you rather than limiting yourself to one option. To improve your vision and awareness, you need to know;
- The position of your teammates at all times
- The position of your opponents
- Where to find space
Knowing the position of your teammate makes it easy for you to decide where to pass the ball. Also, if you don’t know the position of your opponent, you can receive the ball and turn into your opponent and lose the ball.
By being aware of where the space is (an area that is not covered by your opponent), you will know where to turn when you receive the ball or where to play the pass to increase the chance that your teammate will get the ball before your opponent.
In addition to that, you have to anticipate how quickly things will change as soon as you make your move. This allows you to make yourself available for your teammate to find you or block off an impending attack.
It is not surprising that the best soccer players in the world have good vision and awareness. However, since this quality is usually demonstrated by great soccer players, it is often wrongly believed that vision is an innate ability that great soccer players are born with.
Well, the truth is that anyone can work toward having a good vision. The tips and drills highlighted below will show you how to increase soccer vision.
1. Good first touch
What is the relationship between a good first touch and vision in soccer? Well, when you get your first touch right, it gives you enough space to scan the field.
Your first touch should take the ball about a meter away from your body and into an open space. This gives every soccer player the chance to weigh their next option carefully. Playing the ball out during the first touch will give the player the chance to;
- Evaluate shooting and passing options
- Have their eyes follow the ball out and up into the field to quickly scan the position of players rather than having their eyes glued on the ball
- Prevent the opponent from getting possession of the ball
- Deliver a long-range pass or shot
While receiving the ball, you need to have an open body position. This means that you are facing the field as much as possible. This position helps you to be more aware since you can scan through a larger area of the field.
On the other hand, when you are not in an open body position,
It is important to scan the field before and after you receive the ball from your teammate. This helps you to know if there is an opponent nearby that can take the ball away from your feet.
When running with the ball, most soccer players will usually keep their eyes on the ball, especially if an opponent is close by. What this does is that it limits your vision to a small radius around you.
This allows them to stay aware of the changing environment around them so that they can make better decisions on where to go or where to pass the ball. It is estimated that soccer players will usually hold the ball for about 2 minutes out of the entire 90 minutes.
However, you can increase your duration on the ball by having good vision, running into spaces, and making it easier for your teammates to find you. This constant looking up or over your shoulder is called scanning.
Scanning allows the player to find a teammate, find an opening in the defensive line, or see the position of their opponent. The best time to scan the pitch is when you have brought the ball under control and set it in motion. Below are drills that can help you to improve your scanning.
Passing drill involving scanning
Without a doubt, the best way to improve your vision is by playing. However, if you rely on just playing alone, that will limit you to training only 3 to 4 hours per week.
One player that has learned how to incorporate scanning into his passing drill is Son Heung-min. He employs the help of a teammate to help him with this.
They start by facing each other with about 3 yards between them. The teammate will play the ball to him and he will kick it back to the teammate, making sure that the ball maintains a straight line at all times.
Each time Son kicks the ball, he will take a step backward and look over his shoulder. By constantly performing this drill, looking over your shoulder will gradually become more like a habit and you will see yourself scanning the field every time you receive the ball.
Practice in virtual reality
When it is difficult to go out on the field and play, you can also train with virtual reality. There is a large variation of VR headsets for you to choose from.
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With technological advancements, players can now train in virtual reality and get the same experience as when they are out on the field playing with teammates.
One of the biggest benefits of training with VR is that there is no restriction on where or when you can train, regardless of the weather. After practicing your scanning on the virtual pitch, you can easily translate it into the real world.
Learn from professionals
As an upcoming soccer player, there is a huge chance that there is a superior soccer player out there that you admire or want to be like. One of the ways to be like your soccer role model is by watching them play.
Single out one or two players with really great vision on the soccer pitch and watch their games. You may miss important details when you watch them on the soccer pitch. Therefore, we strongly recommend watching them on television.
Pay attention to how and when they scan the ball including their movements when they are not with the ball. Practice what you have observed as often as possible.
3. Exercise your eyes
It is almost impossible to talk of vision if you can’t see. Soccer players spend time warming their muscles before a game but rarely do the same for their eye muscles.
Warming up your eye muscles which can include the stretching of the eyeballs before a game can improve vision. Soccer players should see it as a necessity just like they stretch their hamstrings and calves.
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson understood the importance of having good vision and visual alertness which is why he worked closely with an eye specialist late Gail Stephenson for two decades to develop pre-game eye warm-up exercises for the team.
4. Work on eye-hand and eye-leg coordination
Outfield players should work on their eye-leg coordination while the goalkeeper should work on eye-hand coordination. This helps to increase peripheral vision, meaning, you are focusing on more than one thing at a time.
Also, peripheral vision allows you to anticipate what is going on around you even without looking over your shoulder. The better your peripheral vision, the more likely you will evade oncoming attacks—especially after receiving the ball.
One of the Premier League legends, Petr Čech has talked about a drill that he used to improve his eye-hand coordination. In the color-based catching drill, a ball is kicked toward him and a card bearing the name of a color is raised at the same time.
He is expected to save the ball and shout the color at the same time. This drill helps him to concentrate on more than one thing at the same time.
Well, soccer presents situations where the goalkeeper has to concentrate on multiple things. For example, when a goalkeeper is punching the ball away from his goal, he has to make sure that he is not punching it towards an opposition player.
Another drill that Čech often used to improve his eye-hand coordination was saving balls shot from a ping pong robot with one hand. This also helps to cut down his reaction time.
A similar drill designed for outfield players will force them not to only focus on the ball between their feet but also to look around and take a quick snapshot of everything around them.
5. Read the game
A key part of having a good vision is reading the game—and that will depend a lot on the team’s technical style of play. Let’s assume that you are the striker.
When your teammate who is a midfielder is with the ball, you have to be able to anticipate that the ball will get to you after a certain number of passes. Therefore, you should be constantly looking for open spaces to run into so that your teammate will find you.
Vision and space go hand-in-hand in soccer. A soccer player cannot be judged as having a good vision if their pass is always cut out by the opposition.
Therefore, when soccer players raise their heads to scan the field when they are with the ball, they are always looking out for those spaces between defenders to slot in the ball for their teammates to follow.
Also, when you don’t look up and scan the field, you will not know what to do with the ball when it suddenly gets to you. So, having spatial awareness with or without the ball is crucial.
Players with good vision know when to pass the ball and when to hold on to the ball—if they think it is too risky to pick out a teammate.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!