Soccer brain is a good thing. Recent studies have shown that soccer isn’t just good for physical development, it’s also great for mental development! Players who enjoy the great game get all kinds of amazing brain benefits, things that translate from the pitch to the classroom and beyond. Here are just a few of the incredible things that soccer does to the brain.
- Improving Working Memory
Working memory is that thing that allows us to think quickly and to make smart decisions. It’s how we’re able to hold and recall important information about a given situation. Soccer players actually show improved working-memory skills as compared to non-soccer players. This means that they learn to look at a situation, evaluate it based on past experiences and knowledge, and then make a decision that’s appropriate. Good working memory is important on tests and in the real world.
- Developing Multi-Tasking
We all know that multi-tasking is an important skill for anyone these days. Soccer encourages strong multi-tasking skills because it requires players to learn to do several things at once when they’re on the field. Players have to worry about the ball in front of them, to evaluate where other players might be in relation to their position (both behind and in front, using those peripheral perception skills), and to be cognisant of the referee and the boundaries of the pitch.
- Strategic Decision Making
Another important cognitive skill that kids learn while playing soccer is strategic decision making. This is a skill that really only comes with practice, and there are few opportunities to practise it for kids today. Soccer offers an outlet for kids to learn to make decisions that have real consequences (i.e. I kick the ball and an opposing defender steps in the way, or I run too fast and lose my footing). Kids then have the opportunity in a soccer setting to encounter a similar situation and then try a different strategy to see if there’s a different outcome. More time on the pitch means more opportunities for kids to develop strategic decision making.
- Learning Chunking Strategies
Even young children, as young as age 5, can learn effective chunking strategies while playing soccer. What’s a chunking strategy? Chunking is when we break down information into smaller parts in order to make it more manageable and easier to remember. Quality soccer instruction helps kids to learn to organise information (both physical and mental) into patterns and containers that lets them remember it more easily.
These are just four ways that soccer keeps kids’ brains sharp. There are so, so many more!