Do soccer video games help develop real gameplay?

From NSCAA Email

With strong parallels to actual game video, games like EA SPORTS' FIFA provide opportunities to help athletes improve.

In virtual gameplay, your players are the coach. Whether they know it or not, they're creating a coaching style and paying attention to the actual strategy. Encourage them to take note of what works in FIFA and how it can translate to the field.

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From Blog written by Tony Linder

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The FIFA video game series is the undisputed world leader in sports gaming. Using FIFA in combination with video analysis of your own games can be a powerful player development tool.

With an estimated 150 million copies sold since its launch in 1993, the FIFA video game series is the undisputed world leader in sports gaming. Pair that with the fact that 80% of American households contain a gaming console, and there's a good chance your players have played the game.

From the tactical decision making to the incredibly realistic gameplay, your athletes are immersed in a video analysis tool whether they see it or not. Using FIFA in combination with video analysis of your own games can be a powerful development tool. Don't believe us? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

The Virtual Playground

While gaming, your athletes are in constant control of the action. They're continuously trying to problem solve to play a step ahead of their opponent, and they are allowed to do so via trial and error. Kashann Kilson at stated, "in the virtual world these lessons are learned in lower-stakes environments: 'mistakes' are typically only seen by a few sets of eyes as opposed to an entire playground or gymnasium. This allows the player to mitigate anxiety and fears of embarrassment and ridicule associated with failure."

Encouraging your team to play FIFA will help your athletes think more strategically about the game. There's a cognitive connection between the decisions made in the virtual world of FIFA and the visual cues they see on the field. Playing FIFA allows athletes to be creative and instill their own unique coaching style into the game. Players are asked to make tactical adjustments prior to games based on form and fitness, as well as the opponent's strengths and weaknesses. It's exactly the same thing you do in the real world when preparing for a match.

Try taking it a step further to engage your athletes. For example, the ability to stop an attack in FIFA comes from anticipating an opponent's next move. Connect the dots by asking your athletes to look for the same opportunities in your own game video. Not only can you have them dedicate time in film review sessions to analyzing and breaking down opponents, but you can have them suggest tactical adjustments to make prior to your next game.

The FIFA Angle

Whether they're playing FIFA or watching televised competitions, today's youth comprehend the game from an entertainment perspective. The high and wide sideline angle is familiar to them. Any video is usable video, but getting the right vantage point enhances the bond between a simulated match and a real one.

With this, athletes will be able to spot missed opportunities as the field opens up, just as they already do in FIFA. It will not only help them see it, but it will help your tactical guidance to hit closer to home. With a little direction, their entire mindset will begin to change as they translate what they see in the game and on game video to the field of play. They'll start to see passing lanes from a different perspective, and will be able to create chances from previously unseen spaces.

Take It to the Pitch

A staple of a championship program is fostering a culture of fun. Consider replicating the environment of the video game on the practice field. Before every match in FIFA, there are mini-games that players compete in for the highest score. Try having your athletes pick a few of their favorite drills from the game and set them up for your next practice. After all, the makers of the game did ask kids for their feedback on how to make the experience more fun.

See For Yourself

You could host a FIFA night for your team. Not only is it a great team bonding activity, you'll be able to observe just how involved your players are in the decisions they make on their own in the game. Keep it light, but make sure the team gets more out of it than just free pizza. Who knows, maybe you'll pick up a few new coaching ideas along the way.

Soccer is a beautiful, amoebic game that is taught through repetition on the pitch and during film review, but studying and understanding the game goes beyond the film room. Try instilling the fundamentals of video analysis through FIFA, and see if it makes your film review sessions more impactful.