Scanning on the pitch is an element that can give you that extra edge in your performance. But microscans, now that is a whole different level!
Microscans - taking your scanning and scan frequency to the next level!
Scanning on the pitch is about gathering as much relevant information as possible before you receive a pass in order to decide on your next move. And it involves many different elements; however, sometimes you don't have time to make longer scans.
For example: in fast paced situations or when the ball is near, when taking your eyes off the ball is particularly risky. However, scanning in these situations can still make all the difference! This is where so-called microscans come into play.
When Martin Odegaard experienced a period of injury, he used the Be Your Best Trainer to train vision and decision making (Source: Martin Odegaard Instagram-account). Seeing him use the Trainer in the video below, it is clear that he utilises both larger scans and microscans when training:
Timing one's scans, taking smaller, high frequent mental snapshots, allows a player to visualise the field of play.
Odegaard’s head whips round like a woodpecker’s, taking a mental snapshot of the space over his shoulder. He has spoken about the importance of this facet of his game. “I do it a lot,” he told Guillem Balague. “I like to look around. Fast, small glances, but at the same time, remember to look at the ball enough too. That’s why I look up a lot, instead of fewer long ones.” - on his performance in a match between Real Sociedad and Deportivo Alavés, from article in The Times, 2021
Microscans are a chain of many smaller high-frequency scans conducted in-between longer scans.
What does that mean? Well, it's like taking quick, miniature mental pictures in the very last few seconds before you make a new decision. So, not so much "checking your shoulder" as it is moving your head and/or eyes swiftly from side to side, between the ball and the players around you that you need to keep track of.
Look at how Neymar Jr. moves his eyes, from a 2020 PSG vs. RB Leipzig-match:
Video credit: Patrick Woerst/Vantage
Memory recall and "taking pictures"
Scanning, and microscans, are directly related to memory recall. That means in order for a scan to be useful, you have to remember what you saw when you scanned.
In a sense, taking pictures of what you see, so that when you receive a pass and you turn your eyes back to the ball, you still remember that f.ex. the inner runner midfielder is angled slightly to the left from you, but also surrounded by three opponents, there's an opening to the right but none of your teammates are in that open space.
This is also what was meant when Lampard Sr. would yell at his son - now also football and scanning legend - Frank Lampard from the stands: "Pictures! Pictures!" when Frank played for West Ham. Our co-founder Geir Jordet queried West Ham Academy Manager Tony Carr about Lampard's special scanning skill, who explained:
“In the first game Frank played for West Ham, his dad would sit in the stands and shout at his son all the time," Carr explained. “He’d say the same thing, every time - ‘Pictures! Pictures!’ He just wanted Frank to have a picture in his head before he got the ball," - from article by Training Ground Guru, 2019
Small high-frequency scans
With smaller high-frequency scans - microscans - you're able to form pictures in rapid sequence, giving you continuous updates on your surroundings, constantly checking your options and lowering the risk of making an unsuccessful pass.
Look at Lionel Messi's microscanning here before he makes a run at the goal:
Video credit: Rune Mikkelsen
Microscans amp up your scanning to the maximum, maintaining a fast-paced matchplay.