One thing that I have noticed more and more over the last several years refereeing soccer is the volume of coaching from coaches and parents during games. There is constant instruction and feedback. Parents and coaches don’t give players room to think. This idea coalesced as I walked to a soccer game and watched the parents at a lacrosse practice run on to the field to give their sons water.
These parents and coaches attempt to help their players, but the constant help does not allow the players to learn.
Dennis Bergkamp, one of the game’s great thinkers, has alluded to exhaustive modern-day coaching as one of the reasons players don’t use their own powers of perception enough. “They don’t have to think for themselves any more”, he told Amy Lawrence. “It is all done for them. It’s a problem. If they get a new situation, they look to someone as if to say, ‘What do I have to do now?’” And while Bergkamp was talking specifically about the ability to think critically in the midst of a game, his comments give us a clue as to the lack of faith footballers have in their own ability to self-reflect.