Here is Factor #3 of Tactical Intelligence
There's a difference between seeing something, and looking at something. When you see things, there is an air of passivity in the action, however when you're looking at something, it's more deliberate, your eyes get into focus, and your brain is activated on the conscious level. This is the difference I'm talking about when I differentiate between Sight and Vision. Sight involves a reaction to the surroundings, while Vision involves awareness, perception, and knowledge. Vision involves anticipation.
In football, it's really important to constantly be looking around the field, scanning for information that you can use to your advantage in the current or next play. This ability to read the game is called anticipation. Anticipation is a mix of prediction and expectation. Developing this handy tool will help you in all areas of your game. You'll be able to make smarter choices while attacking or defending, you'll be a step ahead of opponents (or with a hyper-developed level of anticipation, you'll be 5-steps ahead of your opponents *cough* Messi *cough). Whoever you are, and whichever position you're in, you've got to start building your anticipation muscle and understand that the game of football is a thinking game, and though it's great to get wrapped up in the joy of the game, or play in the moment, to be truly great, you've got to start playing ahead of the game.
A simple example of this (out of soccer context) is the world of chess. You'd never see a chess master just move pieces around a board for fun, without thinking or strategizing. Every move is deliberate, thought out, meticulous.
Trusting your skill and instinct is huge, yet you don't want to solely rely on that. You've got to be involved mentally, stay sharp, and make the right moves on the pitch.
You can do this by figuring out where you want the ball to go (where you want to pass it) before you've even received it. This means getting your head up, on a swivel, and periscoping your available outlets prior to getting the ball.
Another way to flex this muscle, in a defensive situation, is to read your opponent with the ball. Practice looking at their body language and playing style. If you're the first defender approaching a player, and you learn the person is right foot dominant, you can close him down more effectively, or force him to his weaker foot.
If you're not directly closing the player down (let's say you're a defender) you can read if his hips are opening up to strike the ball over the top, so you could gain an extra second in tracking back, or getting a tackle in, or getting your foot in the way, etc. There's a lot you can do with that split second.
Vision takes you to the next level of football. It's what all the pros are doing at nearly every moment of the game. Watch for this as you study your favorite players, and once you pick it up, and start practicing, you'll start to feel like the game slows down for you, and you'll be ready to take on more challenges.
"See" you soon,
I love helping players optimize their soccer careers + lives through actualizing their potential.