Soccer anticipation speed describes a player’s ability to predict the probability and end result of a game action situation. Because they can predict what will happen they can execute their own response/move that much faster. For example, if an outside defender can predict that the opposing midfielder will switch the play from the opposite side of the field to their side with a long ball, they can scan other opposing players, decide where the ball will likely end up, who the likely recipient is, and get physically and mentally ready to get into the target space before the ball or opponent get there.
This speed is highly dependent on a player’s experience. A professional will have seen more game situations and has developed a larger mental data base than a youth player in their second year of soccer. But it is not only experience, anticipation can be trained.
The best coaching method is small sided games in relatively small spaces, 2v1, 2v2, 3v2, 3v3, 4v4, etc. Some ideas of soccer practice drills, which can be found in our books:
- Pass Interception: Play 5v5 in a 10m x 10m grid. Restrict players to two touch passing. A team can only gain possession by intercepting a pass. No tackling allowed.
- Pass Through Defense: Make a grid 20m wide by 30m long and divide the length into three 10m zones. Divide the team into three equal groups and place each group in a zone. The teams in the end zone must pass a ball through the middle zone. The team in the middle zone must intercept the pass. Upon interception the team that played the pass goes in the middle. If a team plays the ball out of bounds it goes in the middle. Restrict the number of touches the end zone teams can play before passing.
- Sequence Passing: Split the team into groups between five and seven players. Each group places its players randomly in a 10m x 10m grid. Assign numbers to each player, say 1-7, and starting with 1, pass the ball to each player in sequence. Players should be moving in the grid and after passing the passer sprints into an open space, but not interfering with the next sequential pass.
You can see how these simple drills will train anticipation. Our books have many more appropriate for the age group and competitive level of your team. Enjoy !!