I’ve played soccer for pretty much my entire life. According to some quick calculations, I’ve probably spent almost 10,000 hours around soccer (practices, camps, indoors, outdoors, games, high school, middle school, intramurals, adult leagues, premier teams, district teams, travel teams, tournaments, refereeing, etc.). That’s equivalent to over 400 full days – over a year if I played all day/night (which sometimes I think I did).
Now considering I’m 24, that means about 1/24th of my life has been on the soccer field. To put that in perspective, I probably eat for 1.5 hours a day which would be 1/16th of my day. Therefore, eating and soccer combined have taken more than 1/10th of my life. Subtract sleeping, school, and work, and how much free time did I really have for a bat and turkey catching club (P.A.B.A.T.)?
The point is that I love the game. One must be physical but sensitive, dynamic yet passive, and logical yet imaginative in order to be a complete player. This balance of attributes while being prepared mentally will always make someone an asset to their team.
I think most of all it’s the pre-game mental preparation and in-game mind-reading that make it so much fun (and I’m talking not just of your opponents, but of your own players too). Studying the other team means identifying stand-out players or leaders and recognizing weaknesses in formation. Studying your team means knowing players’ strengths, weaknesses, and most of all, tendencies. You should be able to move as a cohesive unit and almost play blindly – the best teams I’ve been on have been where I can pass the ball without looking, knowing someone will be there who will know what I am expecting them to do with it.
While in the game, it’s about reading minds of players. Anticipation and probabilistic expectation play huge roles in gaining an advantage on the other team. A quick analysis of 2 connected passes should lead you to forecast subsequent moves based on the prior movements of nearby players.
It’s true, soccer is math, and really I mean it. Optimize your position and forecast movements based on prior states – all from looking at someone else’s eyes, hearing their communication, and most of all, intuition based on thousands of hours of experience. It’s pretty simple.