Soccer IQ


25 Points

The flowchart below not only shows the breakdown of the 5 Soccer IQ components, it also dissects how each category is related to each other.



The attribute of soccer IQ, simply put, describes a player’s ability to make good decisions in a game. They are not just great dribblers, passers, and tacklers; their ability to make excellent decisions on the spot makes them special too. It’s the ability to predict what will happen on the field and how well they change the game to their benefit.

Soccer IQ is the sum of five components of expertise: Connectivity, Spacing, Rotation, Disguise and Pacing. The fact that it’s not monolithic is exactly what makes it so hard to be considered a smart player. Playing at a higher level requires having already worked-out decisions for scenarios that may occur; recognizing trends before opponents do; keeping a mind free of distraction; tracking teammates’ movements, and not just opponents; and adjusting one’s space accordingly. Players need to master hip mechanics to be able to rotate into open body positions; disguise intent; engage in time-pressured, considerately paced distribution; and make complex decisions based on probability and rule limitations.

It is generally known that performing at the highest level requires as much smarts as it does strength and skill. The best soccer players have an innate ability to read a play and be in the right place, at the right time. However, the importance of developing Soccer IQ is often overlooked. As a result, instead of being creative, many players can be likened to a toolbox. They have the hardware to do the job (skills and fitness), but haven’t been taught carpentry–they don’t know how to build a goal.

Player is focused on the opponent and should instead develop the habit of tracking their own teammates movements. They do not know where their teammates are, even though they have a sense of what is going to happen next and do indeed want to engage their teammates.

Players have been taught to believe they must always go forward, constantly forcing the play. They have been made to feel that side or back passes are negative and that there’s no purpose to a possession style of play in relieving pressure.

Players believe if they pass to a teammate that they’re not likely to get the ball back, therefore keep the ball for themselves.

Players believe that they have to draw attention to themselves in order to stand out to a coach or at a tryout. They do not relinquish the ball to teammates and therefore are constantly squandering the opportunities of others and the team.

Players have not been encouraged to create passing lanes or triangles. They then only use their dribbling skills and or physical speed to break lines instead of clever, adjusted spacing.

Players may or may not be moving into the spaces that are favorable to them, but do so without a sideways-on mentality. Their hip positioning may also be stiff and hold them from success in the next play.

The player’s plant foot position and subsequent angle of release is telegraphing their intent and so they lack the ability to disguise their next move. Even though they try to make the correct passes, they get intercepted by those who read the player’s body language.

The player’s pass pacing is incorrect even though they make the right choice. They apply the incorrect amount of weight due to either panic and or not perceiving the urgency of the moment.

The player may or may not be able to read triangles and passing lanes. They lack the discipline to do the off-the-ball work needed to make those mechanisms work, this type of effort often goes unrewarded.

The player has been coached to play the way they’re facing instead of being encouraged to switch the point of attack and in either case they’ve been taught that short passes are not good.