Throughout my playing career in high school I constantly struggled with finding creative passes to play. I only saw what was directly in front of me and it wasn’t until my freshman year of college when I finally began to scan the field effectively. Being able to split the defense with penetrating balls takes a lot of practice, however, once you gain the ability to locate holes in the backline and midfield your style of play will improve dramatically. These are the 4 best tips to improve your vision on the pitch!
1. Locate Teammates
The majority of the players you watch on TV have a general understanding of where their teammates are located on the field. Knowing where players are positioned on the pitch comes from experience. Over time you will learn where your teammates are located in different game situations. One of the fastest ways to bypass the years of experience needed to master the location of your teammates is by watching game footage. Watching 2-3 games a week will significantly improve your positional awareness.
2. Pick Head Up
One of the most effective ways to help improve your vision on the pitch is to develop the habit of keeping your head up. When I was younger I would constantly look down at my feet when I received the ball. Take a quick glance down at the ball before your first touch and try to keep your head up while completing shorter passes. You will find the best players aren’t looking directly at the ball when the pass is between 0-15 yards.
3. Scan The Field
Once you know the general location of your teammates you will begin to have an idea of who you want to pass the ball too. Most players only focus on what is right in front of them. You want to do the opposite. Scan the field so you see every option and know where the passing lanes are located. As you practice you will get faster at scanning. You will learn to quickly spot a good pass from a great pass.
4. Master Your Touch
If you’re constantly focused and worried about your first touch you will most likely not feel comfortable enough to scan the field before you receive the ball. Your head will be looking down and you will not be thinking 3-4 passes ahead. Once the ball and your foot become one it will become much easier to quickly scan the field before you receive the ball. Vision and first touch go hand in hand.