Growing up in the U.S. with the dancing steps of samba in my blood, soccer was always going to be a huge part of my life as a Brazilian it was in my lineage.
From taking baby steps with a plush soccer ball at my feet to fast-forwarding 15 years to the Granja Comary Football Complex playing for the U-17 Brazilian National Team to the U-19 and Full Portugal National Team, there had been hours and hours of dedication to the beautiful game o jogo bonito.
In this article, I’m going to take you through a few but essential high-level elements that every player no matter what position or level needs to focus on in order to improve their game.
What are the key skills to focus on?
When you’re training to be the next soccer superstar, I would recommend focusing on these three aspects: technical skills, mental skills, and fitness.
Since football or soccer is a very mental and physical demanding game, you should devote quite a bit of time in developing each of these aspects!
From ball control to mastering the coordination of your entire body, your technique can dictate your success in soccer.
You might have all the forward-thinking football intelligence in the world but without the skills to see your vision through, you can’t execute on the field.
Controlling the ball
From the get-go, ball control is an essential part of the game of soccer and is not just restricted to your feet! You should be able to use all parts of your body (aside from your hands, of course) to control the ball from the feet to legs, and chest to the head. This will help you keep the ball closer to your body and away from your opponent.
Want to know how to improve soccer skills, here are a great few exercises to work on your ball control (which can be done as a beginner or professional player)
After you’ve got control of the ball, your dribbling skills will dictate how quickly and efficiently you can move about the pitch without losing possession.
If you’re looking at how to get better at soccer by yourself, here are five dribbling drills any level player should work on:
Passing the Ball
Soccer is a team sport and being able to effectively pass the ball with accuracy and the right amount of power takes practice.
Here are a few passing exercises to help you train so grab a buddy (or a wall) and get on the field:
As we mentioned before, soccer is a highly mental game which can be improved, trained, and mastered!
Game intelligence can help you expend less energy while still making things happen during the game it’s a player’s ability to read the play and choose the best decision moving forward (or backward).
When working with the mental skills of soccer, I would recommend focusing on these three aspects: spatial awareness, tactical awareness, and risk assessment.
At any given moment while you play, you should know where you are on the field, where your teammates and your opponents are, and to have an overall notion of the entire field including passing channels and open spaces. This is called being spatially aware although some players may find this kind of vision comes with experience and time, there are ways to help learn and incorporate it to their game today.
For training ideas to help you or your players develop better spatial awareness, this article can help.
From familiarizing yourself on how to play various soccer formations (even if your position doesn’t change) to best set yourself up against another team’s tactical strategies, a player should develop their tactical awareness. This hones in on a player’s ability to create rather than react, communicate rather than just go, and make decisions rather than go with the flow.
Although you never want to play or have your players play with fear, they should have a certain amount of ability to assess risk on the field. Whether a player has to decide between tackling aggressively and risking the possibility of getting carded or letting the player go for another defender to reach them is this assessment in play. It’s the decision between making that cross and risking a counter-attack or simply maintaining possession.
With only one major break in an adult, 90-minute match, fitness is an extremely important key element. Even if you aren’t playing 90-minute matches yet, you still need to be physically fit to endure, stay balanced, coordinated, and be the strongest that you can be.
To be an all-encompassing physically fit player, I would recommend focusing on these four aspects: strength, speed/agility, endurance, and coordination.
Full-body strength is important not just the legs! This is where you gain your power behind your shots, to be able to keep your opponent away from the ball, and even win balls out of the air.
To help you build your strength during the season, here are a few soccer-targeted exercises:
Speed and Agility
To be able to make a quick cutback while defending or juke out your defender, your feet need to be fast even if you’re not the fastest one on the field.
This workout will help you get stronger, quicker, and become lighter on your feet:
You don’t just want to survive out there you want to thrive! Being able to last the game means being able to give it your all right up to the very end!
To help you get game-fit ready, here are some easy-to-follow endurance exercises:
From the coordination of your feet to the balance of your core as your moving throughout the field, both are essential to be successful in soccer.
Here are some essential coordination exercises to work on fast feet and other footwork with exercises:
Technology to Help You Reach Your Goals
As many sports have already benefited from the adoption of technology; the beautiful game of soccer is also adapting to new innovative ways of tracking players performances. The data captured by these devices then help to tailor and personalize training programs to each individual player.
If you want to learn how to play high-quality football and are looking to implement a few smart technology training options, here are a few products to check out.
This stat-tracker can help you increase your efficiency while you play in real numbers. It records valuable statistics like distance, kicks, kick speed, sprints and max sprint speed.
The Adidas Smart Soccer Ball
Have the power but not the skill? This ball can give you immediate feedback on your technique and how to improve your strike on goal.
Training to be the best player you can be doesn’t have to be difficult.
With proper dedication and keeping the main skills in mind that I mentioned above can help you focus on your development as a player and give you the direction you need to go far in your career.
Going it alone can be effective. However, if you’ve noticed that your soccer skills need a bit of extra attention, I would recommend seeking additional help from a coach, training camps or a more advanced team.
While you’re training, keep in mind every player develops at their own speed. Although soccer is a team sport, it’s important that you focus on your own development as a player and appreciate the progress you’ve made so far!