He must have eyes in the back of his head!

The importance of scanning and perception in football

January 4, 2023
Andreas H.F. Olsen, CEO of Be Your BestTM.
Andreas H.F. Olsen, CEO of Be Your BestTM

I used to be a young footballer with high aspirations. Now I help footballers and clubs achieve their dreams by introducing them to the wonders of VR technology and to how Be Your BestTM (the world’s leading VR Football training simulator) can take their game to the next level.

Growing up as a young aspiring footballer, I remember watching in awe of players such as Zinedine Zidane, Xavi, and especially—my favourite—Andres “the Don” Iniesta. Watching these players was (for me) like watching a magic show. In addition to having unprecedented skills with the ball, these players managed to dominate games by using their “X-ray vision” and their ability to read and anticipate the game. It was as if they had eyes in the back of their heads!

Zinedine Zidane, Xavi

Zidane showed his class during his entire career, but maybe the peak of his talents were showcased during his match against Brazil in the 2006 World Cup. It was as if time stood still every time he got the ball, he never had to sprint and he always seemed to find the perfect solution to every situation. He was never the fastest, but he was always one or two steps ahead of the rest. How did he do this?

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Xavi and Iniesta showed one masterclass after another during their stints under Guardiola’s legendary Barcelona team and during their epic time for the Spanish National Team, where they won multiple Champions League Titles, 2 European titles and one World Cup title. What made these legends so amazing? How come they seemed to be able to relax so much with the ball, even when playing against the fastest and best players in the world? Was it simply God-given natural talent?

The skill that these legendary players have learned to master is the skill of knowing exactly what’s going on around them before they get the ball. There is no hiding the fact that they must have some natural abilities that have given them the opportunity to reach such high skill levels, but at some point during their development as footballers they have learned how to scan and how to process information to set them up for better decisions on the football field. Can this be taught and learned? Football Psychologists and researchers have concluded that it definitely can.

Scientists such as Professor in Football and Psychology, Geir Jordet (to the left), have long advocated for the importance of scanning and perception, and more and more clubs and footballers are making this a natural part of their training. As a matter of fact, Geir Jordet and his team (Jordet, Bloomfield & Heijmerkx, 2013) published a study in 2013, looking at 55 midfielders in the premier league, showing that players with a higher scan rate had higher forward pass completion compared to players with lower scan rate.

Arsene Wenger, Head of World Football Development in FIFA, a strong advocate for the importance of scanning and perception says:

“We have arrived at the end of the physical development of players and cannot get much further. The speed of decision-making and how quickly we can analyse the situation around us will be the next level.

(BBC, 2020) 

As a young football player I constantly had the feeling that I had no time with the ball. I had to pass it, or lose it. Some of my peers seemed to have much more time and I could never understand why. I concluded that they must possess a special talent that I simply did not have. I didn’t know at the time that what they did—and I didn’t—was to get a sense of their surroundings before receiving the ball and that this skill could be learned 

Be Your BestTM uses cutting edge VR technology to simulate real football scenarios to train the skill of scanning and perception. Be Your BestTM is scientifically proven to increase the scan rate of players, which means that players that use Be Your BestTM will become better at understanding their surroundings, they will have more time with the ball, which again will help them make better decisions.

Be Your BestTM is the tool I wish I had as a young aspiring player. It would have given me eyes in the back of my head, just like my favourite Andres “the Don” Iniesta.

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