Whether you are watching on TV or bought a ticket, let’s look past being just a spectator. This is how coaches watch games and it is much different than when others do. There are so many skills and strategies being played out away from the ball that it is a waste to chase the ball with your eyes all the time. Game plan to watch a game, and that takes focus and concentration. If you are wanting to look at fitness level of a team, effects of fatigue, and effort away from the ball then stay focused to watch for those things. Strategic planning (grouping things together that can be watched at the same time) makes seeing what you’re watching easier. The three previous examples can all be seen away from the ball and you can see all three at the same time. Bad planning would force you to try and see the whole field and absorb everything at once and that would be too much to watch. Remember, when trying to watch everything you miss the most.
Ideas to watch for at games: space awareness, ball pressure, position play, coaching (often overlooked, how the coaches react and interact with the players & players reaction), choose a position and watch a full game play of it, denying space on defense, creating space on offense, individual player decisions (always an indicator if the team is united, playing as one), skills needed, skills developed, how teams handle pressure, goalie play, and set plays.
Take notes. Often overlooked, but remember we are not entering as a spectator, but look at watching games rather as professional development. This includes bring a notebook for notes and be critical about situations. When things are going good for one team ask yourself how and why did this happen? On the other side of the spectrum there is a team that things are not going good and you have to ask the same why question. This allows for the most critical of thinking: apply this to your team. Would you do things the same as the two teams (the winning team & losing team)?
How would you change what is going on or keep the momentum rolling, would you apply a different strategy, how would your team handle this team if they were your next opponent, are there some situations you see that you need to practice with your team, and is there anything you can take away from the game you can use in practice?
Finally, join your local or state coaching association, as they are cheap and you will instantly be sent reading material/DVD’s/Training invitations and content that pertains to your area or state. Rule changes at the high school level happen from time to time and could change the way you handle a certain situation. Refresh yourself as a coach which, reading material/DVD’s/Trainings will often do, reminding you of some great drills or situational play that escaped you somehow over the course of absorbing such great information.