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Assessing Game Opponents
Who Does Opponent Assessments?
Learning to observe opponents behavior prior to and in games is a critical skill for coaches, scouts and players.
Player's who observe opponent's in games help their teammates with their observations, learn a better understanding of the game, are significantly more focused on the game, and better prepared to step on the field and play well immediately. Players need to learn to focus on playing the game and answering their own questions because on a full size field they can't always hear advice from their team's bench.
Pre-Game Opponent Assessment
If you have the opportunity to watch your opponents warm-up prior to a game you can start learning how each opponent plays and what you can do to take advantage of their weaknesses and counter their strengths.
Observation starts with reading your opponent's body language. For example, if an opponent's:
Observation continues with observing how each opponent warm's up with a ball prior to playing the game. Observe:
Observation continues with what each opponent does when they don't have the ball in small sided warm-up games. For example:
First 10 Minutes on Field Assessment
The first 10 to 15 minutes each opponent is on the field your observations continue to confirm what you observed prior to the game and to collect more information that can help your team be even more successful. After 10 to 15 minutes continue for the rest of the game to determine if there are other opponent behaviors your team's players may need to know about.
Chunking in Player Instructions
Telling all players everything you can about all your opponents is information overload. Working memory, what people have on their mind and will remember is very limited in capacity. Too many pieces of information or chunks of information that are too big causes information overload and indecision.
To enable your players to best use observed information limit instructions to each individual player to two items for best recall, but never more than 4 items. Research shows most people can only keep 4 items in working memory at the same time. (see article on Chunking)
For best results the coach should decide what 4 chunks of information each player should know about their specific opponent(s). And only the coach or an individual assigned by the coach should tell each individual player what they need to know about their specific opponent(s).
If team assistants, spectators and/or parents yell out additional chunks of information Working Memory will be overloaded and the player will not focus on the 4 chunks of information the coach has decided are critical to that player's best performance.
Opponent Assessment Forms
Teams can create their own assessment form, print our suggested form Opponent Behavior Assessment, or print our blank form Opponent Behavior Blank Form. After printing the form you want to use make a copy for each individual who will be assessing your opponent's players during the game.
Common Opponent Behaviors & Counters to Them
There are some common opponent behaviors on the Opponent Behavior Form. There are also blank columns and spaces for observing additional behaviors. See Common Opponent Behaviors for additional opponent behaviors you may wish to observe.
There are common counter measures for many opponent behaviors on the Counters to Opponents page.
Opponent Assessment Form