The term scanning is not correct
I HATE THE WORD SCANNING! It’s not correct. The definition of scanning:
I don’t think this is the right use of words, in a match you don’t have the time to ‘carefully look at all parts’. I like the word head check way better. The definition of a head check:
I think this describes the action a player is doing way better. Yes I know I’m obsessing over details here. I just wanted to get this off my chest.
Other than that I think it’s a good development that we have so much focus on this behavior. I think it’s the most important behavior in football. Because without it you limit yourself so much in making good decisions. If you don’t have all information around you, it’s always kind of gambling what you’re doing. Read more about this in this article.
I do think we can coach our players and train our players even better on this. What often misses when talking about a head check is the timing, when to look and what to look for. So we do talk about that we have to do head checks and collect information. But we fail to take this a step further and coach when to look and what information players have to collect. Which are of course critical as well. Especially what players should look for when doing a head check. Right now we’re only teaching the motion of doing a head check, which is a good start would I say, create the automatism first and then make players understand when to look and what to look for.
A lot of coaches let players shout a number, when asking for the ball. In this way, they need to do a head check and doing it with right timing. But the information collected is not relevant for football. Players don’t learn what to look for and collect the right information.
For example this situation, a ball gets cleared. The defenders need to do a head check to check their defensive line, is it organized correctly and are there any potential dangerous opponents. The players need to understand what to look for when doing a head check in this example. The defender does a good head check to his fullback. But he doesn’t coach him in the seconds after to get back on the line to avoid a 1v1 situation. Seconds later, the opponents midfielder turns and has a clear pass in depth to put the striker 1v1. So while the defender, at first sight, did a good head check, he didn’t give meaning to his head check, the information he saw with his eyes, wasn’t processed.
Another example is a midfielder doing a head check before receiving the ball. He turns, but an opponent presses him anyway and he loses the ball. He did do a head check, but he didn’t process the information he got with the head check and made the wrong decision. That’s why it’s so important to give meaning to a head check, you have to know what you look for and have to process this information correctly.
You can for example train this in a really basic way with three players. One player with the ball, one player 20-25 meters away and one player in the middle. The player in the middle always receives the ball and has to do the head checks. The player furthest away decides to press or not. In this way, the player in the middle has to process, the distance of the opponent, the speed of the approaching opponent, and thus if he has time to open or that he has to pass the ball back or shield it.
So in summary I think we’re doing a really good job by coaching to do head checks, but I think we can take it a step further by coaching players when to do it and what to look for.