Unlocking Soccer’s Secrets: Frenkie de Jong and Motor Inhibition

Motor Inhibition skills during a match

Last week, I unveiled a captivating video focusing on Frenkie de Jong and his remarkable Motor Inhibition skills. Curious about the theory behind the footage? Well, join me on this enlightening journey.

Read more: Unlocking Soccer’s Secrets: Frenkie de Jong and Motor Inhibition

The Science of Motor Inhibition:

Diving deep into the realm of sports science, I’ve penned several insights about the science and trainability of Motor Inhibition. For our newcomers, here’s a brief refresher: Pioneering Dutch researcher, Lot Verburgh, meticulously explored the interplay between brain functions and top-tier youth soccer performances. Her research spotlighted three pivotal facets of the executive system: Motor Inhibition, Attention, and Visual Working Memory. Essentially, Inhibition is the ability to delay or halt impulses or choices. The findings? While varied, a striking difference emerged in ‘motor inhibition’. Sharing her insights with Sportknowhowxl, Verburgh illustrated, “Elite talents demonstrate a superior knack for swiftly adapting their motor skills. This can be a game-changer. For instance, an unexpected opponent requires an immediate change in movement and strategy.”

American Football vs. Soccer:

During numerous presentations and workshops, I often draw parallels between soccer and a riveting American Football clip. The clip showcases a kicker, poised to launch the ball, when suddenly, an opponent lunges at him from an unseen angle. Instead of potentially hitting the opponent, the kicker deftly maneuvers the ball, causing the opponent to miss spectacularly. Witness the magic here.

Frenkie de Jong: The Embodiment of Motor Inhibition:

Post Frenkie de Jong’s transfer to Barcelona, an avalanche of highlight reels graced the internet. One, in particular, from Ajaxtv, piqued my interest. Several of his maneuvers mirrored the American Football kicker, making me instantly correlate it with Motor Inhibition. A notable instance displayed Frenkie artfully bypassing an advancing attacker. The clip reinforces the theory that a late pass increases the likelihood of outplaying the opponent. This demonstration also found a mention in the ‘Voetbaltrainer over Sportbrein’ feature.

Training Motor Inhibition:

How can players hone this invaluable skill? It revolves around delaying decisions with the ball. An engaging drill mandates players to touch the ball twice before passing. Although this method contradicts the typical one-touch to accelerate play, it’s pivotal in curbing impulsive decisions, ideal for rondos or positional games. Variations can be infused, like alternating between two-touch and free play. Beyond just Motor Inhibition, such exercises nurture Cognitive Flexibility, an attribute underscored by experts like Bjoern Krenn for team sports. Of course, critiques arise, highlighting the non-relevance of these rules in actual matches. Yet, the endgame remains the enhancement of cognitive skills.

Harnessing SMARTGOALS:

Daily, I coach players using SMARTGOALS, aiming to fine-tune their Motor Inhibition prowess. The quest? Compel players to restrain or postpone their choices. A pivotal inspiration behind my drills is the renowned Strooptest. A simple example: Read these words – Red, Blue, Orange. Easy, right? Now, decipher the colors of these words – Green, Yellow, Purple. Not so straightforward, is it? Such exercises compel players to combat their natural reactions, essential for real-time match scenarios. Delve into this interactive drill here.


While the insights shared aren’t exhaustive, they bridge the gap between science and practical application. Motor Inhibition remains a cornerstone during training and matches. Numerous other scenarios and training methods exist that implicitly nurture this brain function. Clips of Frenkie de Jong exemplify…

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