Ten ways chess can help you be a better footballer

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Marcet has implemented an original and appealing formula to develop and train a footballer’s intelligence through chess.

All players are assigned a few hours a week to master the technique of this complete game with the goal of taking all of the skills gained onto the football pitch.

We found out some time ago that there are some huge parallels between both fields: chess and football. We’ve learnt that the players are improving their decision making, reading of the game and in their analysing of the match.

Chess is game where you have to see what is going to happen next, detect what relations are established with each new move and detect the qualities of each of our pieces and the opponents. It’s very decisive when it comes to decision making.

Chess and football are very similar and some techniques can easily be put into practice with the other. They are unpredictable and very complex games:

1. The board or the pitch

In chess we have a set of pieces. Each piece has its own position and way of moving around the board just like in football: each player has his own duty on the pitch.

2. Opponents

The opposition always has the same amount of pieces and movements which is the same in football, where there are 11 vs 11 and there are defenders, midfielders and forwards.

3. Objectives

The goal in chess is to move up the board to dethrone the opponents king, just how football unravels where the aim is to move up the field and score more goals than the opposition.

4. Space

With respect to the field, in chess we have a board where we have to manage the available space correctly if we want to beat our rivals.

5. Tactics

We can’t just senselessly move around pieces if we want to win. The same happens in football, it’s not a question of just running about but each movement has to be done in a tactical sense to be able to overcome an opponent.

6. Playing style

You can choose a more patient and elaborate way of playing, searching for a clear opportunity with an upper hand to attack. On the other hand we can play more directly, progressing quickly and vertically up the board which in contrast can be riskier as we can lose more pieces or in football more balls.

7. Intelligent game

In chess, as well as football, you can’t allow yourself to stop thinking or understanding what is happening on the field. This way we can anticipate our rivals movements before the can dominate us.

8. Deceive an opponent

In chess and football it’s vital to draw out an opponent or move them in order to disorganise or break up their defence. To do this, pieces are moved to entice a rival in moving out of position and with the result of creating gaps through which we can attack. Something similar to dribbling with the ball to pull defenders out of place and then moving the ball onto the free man.

9. Attack and defense

In football the game is divided up into specific stages to better understand what is happening in each movement even though it’s a game that’s played as one team and should be understood as something complete. In chess attack and defence are indivisible as they are very closely linked. Whilst attacking we must defend and vice-a-versa.

10. Concentracion

If concentration is lost, we make incorrect decisions on undetected aspects of the game. In football, concentration levels must be at their most until the last second of the match as one small mistake can cost a game.

What are we getting out of these types of training sessions?

By introducing chess into our football training program, we are giving the kids a very valuable tool which is chess, to work on vital aspects that occur whilst playing football. We’ve noticed huge progression on tactical aspects that kids sometimes find very hard to understand. Through chess they learn to understand a players off the ball movement and this broadens their knowledge. It also multiplies their game by ten.

They also improve a lot on their decision making, as chess offers a capacity to analyse an opponents attack in order to defend correctly or to effectively start a counterattack. We’ve noticed as well a better criteria when it comes down to deciding which pass to make when starting an attack. And gives them more confidence in themselves.

Additionally, as decisions in chess have to be made in a limited amount of time, we’re noticing more and more quicker decision making whilst they are playing football. We are aware that in this sport you need to think very quickly and this can be achieved through chess.

It’s especially caught our attention the high concentrations levels they’ve acquired thanks to playing chess. It’s an ability we work on a lot with footballers, as one lapse in concentration can lead to a decisive moment in the result of a match. We’ve found in chess, an excellent tool that improves this.

We are extremely happy with the experience and we are carrying on with the investigation and analysis that chess can bring to the training and development of our footballers.


Pedagogical department of Fundación Marcet in collaboration with ‘Pinies’ on martiperarnau’s blog.



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