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Chunking in Soccer
Chunking is dividing large amounts of information into smaller chunks that can be retained in "working memory" so that retention, learning and understanding is dramatically improved.
Research studies have determined that "working memory", what an average individual can only focus on at the same time, is limited for most individuals, to 4 chunks of information that it can handle at the same time. The range in studies is between 3 and 5 chunks of information and varies by individual and the size of the chunks of information.
When too many chunks are presented to "working memory" or when the chunks presented to "working memory" are too large, an individual's focus goes into overload and performance suffers.
Bibliography: Current Directions in Psychological Science: 2010, Feb 1;19(1):51-57
Chunking In Practices
Training exercises and materials need to be covered in logical sequential chunks that individual players can process and learn from. When information is provided out of sequence or in chunks that are too large players do not learn as quickly or as well.
In surveys most youth players quit playing sports, often forever, when they feel they are not learning, not getting better, they are bored and/or they are no longer having fun.
Bibliography - ESPN: 2013, July, 16:
To keep players from being bored, losing focus and/or not learning keep them active and avoid having players stand in waiting lines. To keep players focused setup an exercise for the best number of players to keep players learning. If 7 is the best number of players and you have 14 players at practice. Set-up the same exercise in two side by side areas.
Samples of Chunking In Player Training
Training players to use their weaker foot as a manipulative foot to handle the ball (to touch, dribble, pass and shoot) is a 5 step sequential chunk progression. See Training 1 Footed Players
Training players to scan the field (for teammates, opponents and open spaces) is a 6 step sequential chunk progression. Most players stare at the ball and player in possession of the ball for 54 seconds a minute. The very best players scan the field for teammates, opponents and open spaces for up to 26 seconds a minute. See Faster Scan Rate Training
Chunking in Games
Players "working memory" can be overloaded in games when coaches, their assistants and parents all giving them too many, complex and/or conflicting instructions. To protect players from information overload coaches need to teach their assistants and parents not to give players instructions before or during games unless the coach has specifically asked them to do so.
When it comes to pre-game, during game and half time instructions:
Chunking in Player Development
Player development is dividing a very large chunk of training, like team defending, into a logical progression of small chunks that are introduced in a developmental sequence that players can learn over time. The goal is not 100% perfection by 100% of all players in a single practice, but rather the players starting to pickup and learn the topic, at their own learning rate over time.
When one or more players start to master a chunk and are successful their teammates see their success and also learn. When a few learn and master, others soon follow.
Chunks should be on the edge of being challenging, so players don't get bored and lose focus. Human nature is to do what you already know that is comfortable for you. Development is being challenged to be just a little out of your comfort zone so you must focus, because when you focus learning and improvement follow.
And because doing the same thing session after session becomes boring chunks need to challenge the mind and body in different ways. For example:
There are several dozen teaching aids and approaches to training that are used to present chunks of information in learning progressions.