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What makes an exceptional footballer?

In the game of football there are two teams for a total of 22 players both with one final goal, to win the game. Imagine 20 footballers running nonstop for a 90-minute regulation game on a field that can be 100 by 100 yards with minimal substitutions allowed. Each footballer is expected to exhibit a wide range of skills. From running, dribbling, kicking, stopping, passing, positioning, to various body maneuvers and for the goalie, blocking, jumping, and catching as well. All of these skills require the players to have speed, strength, coordination, endurance, mentality, and quick reaction.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of great football players but what makes an exceptional football player? Is it a player’s ability to lead the team?  A great leader encourages, supports, and directs the team toward successful performances. Great leadership can boost morale among the team and this can have a favorable outcome.

Is it a footballer whose skills stand out among his colleagues? A player who is faster, more powerful, a better ball handler, or has better eye to foot coordination?

Is it the player who gives more than 100%? A player who can exert himself for the entire game and be immune to fatigue.

Is it the ability to anticipate the opponent’s next move? A player’s ability to determine what his opponent or even teammates next move might be before it even happens.

Or perhaps it is the ability to react quicker than the opponent? A second or even a millisecond can make a difference between a block, stop, strike and a goal? It would seem that a footballer whose reaction time is quicker than the other players on the pitch is at an advantage and more likely to score a goal.

What if it was possible to predict whether a footballer had the potential to be exceptional? Psychological instruments are frequently used to measure personality traits, intelligence, motor and mental speed, mental processing speed, visual-perceptual speed, problem solving, reasoning, developmental processes, and reaction time to name a few. If these psychological instruments were used to measure a footballers speed, strength, coordination, endurance, mentality, and reaction, they could potentially determine how a player might perform on the field and who will likely be an exceptional player? It would after all be advantageous for the sport of football to determine a great player from an exceptional player.

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