Exploring the Soccer Brain: Insights from “Kopkracht” and More

Diagram illustrating the soccer player's brain functions.

For several years, I’ve passionately blogged about the intricate relationship between the brain and sports, specifically diving into the “soccer brain”. Building upon this passion, I delved into the book “Kopkracht”. In this post, I share insights from this book and explore how this knowledge translates to the football field.

Read more: Exploring the Soccer Brain: Insights from “Kopkracht” and More

Continuous Quest for Knowledge

Every week, I voraciously consume the latest research, striving to learn and share as much as possible. Transitioning from mere knowledge to practical application, I often employ the SMARTGOALS training tool. My information primarily springs from published scientific articles. Additionally, books that bridge the brain’s functionality with practical application hold a special place in my heart. “Kopkracht” by Vestberg, Petrovic, and Lerner aligns perfectly with my interests.

Swedish Researchers’ Invaluable Contributions

Vestberg and Petrovic, two esteemed Swedish researchers, undertook a comprehensive study examining the intelligence and executive skills of professional soccer players. Their findings, published in several academic journals, emphasize the importance of executive functions, often termed the brain’s control functions. These functions encompass:

  • Targeted Attention: Keeping track of minute details.
  • Visual Perception: Observing the field and players visually.
  • Cognitive Flexibility: Swiftly shifting focus.
  • Inhibition: Halting a begun action.
  • Creativity: Devising novel solutions.
  • Working Memory: Retaining and processing incoming data.

However, it was a press release that catapulted them to fame. It highlighted that soccer players’ brains functioned differently from many others. Media giants like SkyNews and BBC, along with global journalists, researchers, and coaches, were intrigued. This led them to assess the executive skills of Barcelona legends Xavi and Iniesta. Their findings were illuminating, especially concerning the unique ways these players process information. Watch more here.

Practical Training Drills

The book offers several exercises to train executive skills on the field, formulated in collaboration with Matthias Nowak, a long-term youth coach at Bayern Munich. While these insights aren’t scientifically validated, they offer intriguing perspectives:

  • Visual Perception, Cognitive Flexibility, & Working Memory: A typical game, where points are awarded for correctly identifying teammates or opponents’ positions.
  • Inhibition & Creativity: A normal match that abruptly shifts when the coach introduces a new ball.
  • Multiple Skills Drill: A game with four goals, with sudden changes in objectives.

Reflecting on Vestberg’s Work

Being acquainted with Vestberg’s work, I frequently came across references in numerous studies. The theories weren’t new to me, and admittedly, I harbor some skepticism about certain conclusions drawn. I find the real-world translation of executive skills challenging, with some exercises seeming rather basic. Nonetheless, “Kopkracht” is a riveting read, albeit lacking the depth I anticipated. There’s a world of research out there that could’ve been integrated for a more comprehensive view.


While “Kopkracht” offers a glimpse into the soccer player’s brain, there’s a universe of research waiting to be explored. The journey into understanding the intricate mesh of the brain and soccer continues.

Source: Kopkracht on Bol.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top