Soccer Training has drastically changed and what you think you know most likely is not the most effective way of training. Take it from a recent former professional soccer player that has a behind the scenes understanding that what you are learning out there is probably counter productive. What do I mean by that?
Well the most beneficial way to becoming the best soccer player you can, or if you’re a coach the best way to teach your soccer players, is with effective soccer training. If you are still doing drills that consist of just standing in a line for minutes waiting to get your turn, then you are probably subject to your first mistake.
1. Drills are dead!
First off for the coaches let me clarify what I mean as a “drill”. If you have players standing around waiting for their turn to play you are just flat out wasting training time plain and simple. If you are working on offensive strategies then make sure your defense is off working on defensive strategies as well.
Additionally, players should be working on more individual skills either simultaneously, where they each have a ball to work on touch drills or passing with a partner, or they should be working on individual improvements on their own time. This brings me to mistake number two.
2. Soccer Practice versus Individual Practice.
While practice is great for team building and team chemistry, you have to make sure that you or your players are practicing individually if you want to sky-rocket their abilities to the next level. Think of soccer practice as a time to put all your individual efforts to use and get them game ready for game situation. I saw my soccer skills literally explode over the off season when I decided to do my own individual soccer training rather than join another club team.
Did you know that the average time a player has the ball in a given game is only 9-15 seconds? So you need to understand that the time you have the ball is extremely important. Just as important you need to understand that the time off the ball has to be even more sharp since that is a majority of the game.
How do you do that exactly? Moreso, what should you be learning? These are both very common questions I get.
When you think of soccer you should be thinking of a few things to make you a game-changing player. Individual skill, speed, conditioning, and what I call your soccer I.Q. which is the ability to out think people on the field are just a few aspects of overall soccer training. You must also understand exactly where you need to be, where your teammates should be and where the ball needs to go. Great players have great soccer I.Q.’s and that doesn’t happen by accident. It comes through practice, understanding, and most importantly great guidance from a knowledgeable coach.
The third mistake that people make is definitely the biggest.
3. Soccer Training is 90% mental.
Now this may come as a big shock to you but let’s think about the 9 seconds you have the ball on average per game. What are you doing the rest of the game. You are supporting, helping other players defend certain spaces of the field, and you are making runs into space. What do all these have in common?
Sure while they require some physical running which is easy to train for, they are mostly mental.
Most people, especially in America, tend to play soccer physically. I was almost always the smallest yet most effective player on the pitch because I outsmarted people constantly. How do you know if you should go in for a slide tackle or you should jockey the defender? Should you then push the offensive player towards the sideline so he doesn’t have a place to go or should you turn him inside towards another teammate that’s supporting you?
These are all things coaches really do fail in teaching kids. Please don’t make that mistake! I can’t stress that enough. There is a huge line between being a soccer player and a great soccer player. But there is a super fine line between a great soccer player and an epic soccer player that people will remember, will want to play with, and fear playing against.
This all starts with the right guidance, the right mental mindset, and the right soccer training.
Soccer has and will always be coined as a sport of mistakes. It’s who makes less mistakes and who can capitalize on the other team’s mistakes. So whether you are a coach, a parent, or a soccer player that’s looking to become great remember that it all starts with your individual soccer training before anything else.