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Decision Making Title

How to Make Better, Faster Decisions on the Playing Field

“We all make choices, but in the end, our choices make us.” — Ken Levine


Thinking quickly on the playing field can be the difference between a game-winning play and an embarrassing and painful defeat.

But even if you’re mentally and physically prepared for the challenge ahead, it takes time to process information, weigh options and make choices. So how do you work around that lag?

The path to becoming a smarter, better and faster decision-maker involves different stages and there are techniques you can adopt that will help to reach that goal.

This article provides the essential elements of decision-making as well as valuable tips and tricks to improve your game and become a master of making the right call at the right time.

Decision-making is an essential skill for any athlete to develop.

The ability to make good decisions on the field and execute them quickly, consistently, and with confidence will help you perform at your best in pressure situations.

If a decision-maker makes the right choice most of the time, it will pay off in increased scoring opportunities and reduced turnovers.

One of the biggest differences between good and great decision-makers lies in speed: A great player sees more of what’s happening around him/her than an average player does; as such, he/she can react faster when making decisions (a shorter reaction time).

Seeing more visually means you have more information to work with when making choices—and since humans are limited by their ability to process information quickly, this is a huge advantage!

Rugby player Jonny Wilkinson

Stay Calm!

If you compare the world’s best rugby players, you noticed they have one thing in common when it comes to intelligent decision-making. They don’t panic!

Despite immense pressure from an aggressive blitz defense, great players remain calm. This comes on the back of years and years of training.

Think about players like Jonny Wilkinson, Beauden Barrett, or Antoine Dupont. Watch them and you notice when they are in possession, they seem to have more time on their hands because they made the “right” decisions before the ball comes to the players.

They act in a cool, calm, and collected way, which helps the other side players around to benefit from those quick and smart decisions.

Listen to your instincts

When it comes to decision-making in sports, the speed of making the right call is everything. Unlike in other environments, the level of pressure in rugby is particularly intense. A bad decision can physically hurt.

That’s why good decision-makers have the ability to rely on their instinct. Instead of thinking through all the details of a certain play (there is room for this in training).

It’s that intuitive impulse to be trusted and they do that more times than not. This is then combined with an excellent technique to execute it.

Developing a winning instinct comes with experience. The more time you spend on the training pitch and the playing field, the better instinct you develop as a player and the more natural that ability becomes.

A Wolf on the Hunt

The biggest difference between good and great decision-makers is their ability to take in information, weigh options and make choices under pressure.

Good decision-makers are masters of peripheral vision. They always know where the ball is, and they know what’s happening around them without having to look directly at anything else.

They are able to process information quickly and subconsciously, turning their focus back onto the task at hand when it’s time to act.

Great decision-makers are also able to maintain that same level of awareness throughout a game or even an entire season by keeping their mind active off the field as well as on it.

They never allow themselves any downtime from thinking about how they can improve themselves in general, whether that means practicing fundamentals more diligently or making better choices when it comes time for decisions on-pitch.

Take a look around you

Another vital element in the successful decision-making process is called peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is the ability to view parts of the field that you can see without moving your head.

It’s what helps you notice something happening behind you, even though it’s outside the center of attention.

It’s that sort of awareness that differentiates world-class players from the average ones. But what does that mean in practical terms?

It means those players have a load of more important information at hand. They know where their opponents are, they know where their teammates are, and they have an idea of how things can potentially move around.

But most importantly, this ability enables you to know what’s gonna happen if you take a certain decision and what sort of consequences it will have.

A camera with 360 vision

With this ability in hand, it then gives you the advantage to use your instincts again, to make the right decision.

The more awareness you have by scanning the pitch, the more you develop an intuitive nerve to make better decisions.

There are many valuable training drills to incorporate and develop this skill and it’s really worth looking into it

You need this skill to make informed decisions in a split second when your mind is racing

You need to know where the ball is, what’s happening around you, where your teammates are, and where the opposition is.

And if you don’t have a good handle on all these things then it will be hard for you to make good decisions at speed – or even know what kind of decision needs making!

The coach will tell you this before kick-off but if anything changes during play then he might send another message via hand signals or verbal instructions from his touchline position.

He might let one player take over as captain so they can communicate with him more easily than everyone else – but again there may be times when this changes too!

So having a full understanding not just of what’s happening on the field at any given moment but also why should give anyone an edge over their opponents!

Here are a few ways you can prepare yourself

The first step is to get used to looking at the whole field. This will help you see as many things as possible so that you can make better decisions.

Focus on the ball and keep your eyes on it when it’s in play. You should try not to focus on one player or one area of the field if you’re watching a game.

By looking at more parts of each play, you’ll have more information available instead of being stuck with only what someone else is doing or where they are standing (which could lead to bad decisions).

The second step is learning how to use peripheral vision as well as your central vision (the part right in front of your face).

To do this well AND react quickly enough, try using both eyes together! You might find it helpful for focusing on moving objects very close up like reading text online or watching TV shows/movies since those require quick reflexes from our brains in order not to miss anything important happening within seconds after each other.

To be a fast decision-maker, you need to train your mind to process information quickly and subconsciously

A brain wired together

While we’re not all born with the same level of athletic ability and mental acuity, there are some things that anyone can do to improve their game.

One of these is learning how to make better decisions on the playing field.

As it turns out, you don’t need any special powers of perception or intelligence in order to be a fast decision-maker—you just need to train your mind to process information quickly and subconsciously.

The best way I’ve found for doing this is by using visual feedback training (VFT), which involves breaking down complex tasks into simpler parts and repeating them until they become automatic reactions.

By mastering these smaller skills and combining them into larger processes, we can build up our mental muscle memory so that when it comes time to make an important decision in the field, we’ll have an easier time making it quickly without even thinking about


Before you know it, you’ll be making faster, better decisions on the field than ever before.

This is a skill that takes practice and patience to develop, so try not to get frustrated if you don’t notice a big improvement right away.

Remember that even the best athletes in the world need to work hard for this skill, and what matters is that you keep trying!

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