So, you want to become a better soccer player? I am going to be flat out honest and tell you that there is no easy way to become a better soccer player, or a better anything really. Many sites will offer “easy” steps you can follow to help improve your abilities but the truth is that there are no shortcuts.
How to Become A Better Soccer Player
As with anything in life, to truly master something you put in countless hours of hard work. You must be willing to do what others are not. Are you willing to be the 1st one out for training and the last one in? Are you willing to follow a strict diet to fully benefit from your strength and conditioning training?
I am not here to give you a “follow this easy list” plan that will make you better. I am here to tell you the truth of what it’s really going to take to become a better player.
#1 Study the Beautiful Game
If you are looking to get better then you must study the game. You need to watch as much soccer as you can. An easy way to start is by simply picking a team to follow; assuming you have not already done so. Make sure to watch every game, if you can’t then record the game and then go back to watch it.
Do not stop there! Watch other games from other teams. The important thing to remember is that you want to watch as much of this sport as possible. Pick out a player that plays the same position as you and study them. When studying a player ask yourself these questions:
- What is the position of the player when his/her team has the ball vs. when they don’t?
- What does that player do when he/she receives the ball?
- When his/her teammates have the ball on the opposite end, what is the player doing?
There are more questions you can ask yourself why studying a player but the idea is to always try and take something away from the game. Do not limit yourself to just watching games on television. When possible, buy some soccer tickets and make it your local games. Even going to some local college soccer games can help you pick on things you may have missed on TV. You can also watch highlights on YouTube but be careful not to fall into the trap of only watching highlights. While watching goals or goalie saves is entertaining, it is also important to watch the plays leading up to them to understand how those goals and saves happened.
#2 Practice Makes Perfect
After you have studied, it is time to practice what you learned. On average, most soccer players practice between 2-4 times a week. Usually when practicing with their teams, but if you really want to master your craft, you will need to put in some solo practices each week. When practicing solo, try to focus on the following aspects of your training:
- First Touch
The easiest way to work on those 3 skills is by kicking a ball against a wall. Kick the ball as hard as you can to the wall, then try to trap it on the way back. You can proceed to pass the ball off the wall and trap it on the way back. This drill can also be used to work on target practice. Either set up a target on the wall and try your best to hit the target.
Practicing with your team will build chemistry amongst you and your teammates but oftentimes team practices do not do enough to emphasize working on an individual’s skill set. Practice at home whenever you can to build on techniques you have learned through studying.
#3 What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Stronger
Lastly, if you truly want to become a better soccer player then you need to have proper fitness. Soccer players are able to run many miles during a match. A lot of these are done in short burst sprints or depending on your position you may be constantly on the move.
There is only one way to improve your soccer fitness and that is to run. Running is key because it will help you build the stamina needed to last a full 90 minute game. There are many ways to build stamina through running, You could do interval running. With interval running you will usually run short distances at very high speeds and spend longer time recovering. However, you should also mix in, long distance running at lower speeds with shorter recovery times. A combination of both will help dramatically improve your stamina.
Do not skimp out on building muscle. While, we do not want to build excessive amounts, we do want to get stronger. Strength will help us retain the ball when a a defender comes to knock us off it. Strength will also help us have better control of the ball. A very easy, “do at home”, routine you can follow is this:
- 50 push ups in the morning
- 50 sit ups in the morning
- 100 squats in the morning
- 50 push ups at night
- 50 sit ups at night
- 100 squats at night
Even a simple routine like the one mentioned above will have significant impact if done daily.
As you can see from the article, there is no easy way to get better at soccer. Simply put, you need to put in the hard work to become better. There are no shortcuts in life. If you are a player just know that the pain is temporary and it is always worth it in the end. Coaches, try to instill hard work and determination into your players. Not just so it helps them with soccer, but so that it carries onto their daily lives.