Coordination is the interaction between the brain and the muscles to successfully carry out a movement of two different body parts at the same time.
Most Ugandan footballers lack excellent coordination.
This is one of the reasons why most of our footballers struggle to play high-level professional football.
Coordination is responsible for three of the four factors that affect football performance.
This means that coordination affects 75% of football performance.
Coordination is responsible for all the physical attributes of football performance like jumping/leaping, power, physical speed (pure speed acceleration and deceleration), agility, flexibility, and endurance.
Coordination is responsible for the footwork required to execute football skills (passing, shooting, heading, traveling with the ball, throwing the ball, catching the ball, and tackling) with quality.
The five factors of coordination are;
Orientation: The ability of a player to position themselves correctly in terms of both space and time.
Changing and readjusting the position of the body on the basis of the perception of a given situation.
An example of orientation in football is heading the ball.
The player heading the ball has to time the flight of the ball then move the head to make contact with a particular area of the ball.
Having poor coordination would end up with the ball hitting the player.
Rhythm: The ability that allows the player to execute movement rhythmically. The alternation between speed and slowness.
An example of rhythm in football is dribbling past an opponent. The player on the ball has to slow down as they approach the opponent then accelerate past the opponent as soon as they get favorable conditions.
Differentiation: An ability that allows the player to deal in different ways with the information that they perceive with their sensory organs.
An example of differentiation in football is knowing how to weigh a pass according to the distance of your teammate and the position of opponents.
Equilibrium (balance): The ability that allows a player to maintain balance during an action or while executing a technical move.
Being able to regain balance after a duel, a body charge, after feinting and executing the fast footwork required in technical moves.
Almost 90% of football activity happens with one leg off the ground hence football players need to have excellent balance to execute football actions.
An advantage of having excellent balance is that it enables the player to be comfortable using both feet.
Reaction: An ability that allows a player to respond extremely quickly to signals and to match situations, not merely executing the right technical move, but also doing so very quickly.
In football, the stimuli to respond to are; ball, space, teammate, opponent, area of play, and state of play.
Footballers with better coordination will be stronger, have better endurance capacity be more flexible and have better football speed.
It’s true that some Ugandan footballers show signs of good coordination but it’s not DELIBERATELY PRACTICED which means they would struggle when competing against opponents that have excellent coordination skills.
It’s also true that Ugandan footballers can execute football skills but the quality of football skills is not at the standard of high-level professional football.
Coordination is best mastered when taught between 8-13 years of age and can be improved up to 25 years of age then maintained for individuals above 25 years of age.
Football coaches and players in Uganda need to start deliberate coordination training because of its major influence on football performance.