You know the feeling, it’s been a long week at work and you get home Saturday after your kid’s game. You turn on the TV and there it is, the big soccer game. You sit down with your kid and watch the amazing skills these players showcase on the ball. You and your kid are impressed, and then he or she asks, “How do I get to play like that?” You go blank, and all you have is, “well, they work very hard for it, so work hard and you’ll get there.” But don’t worry, here at the Houston Dutch Lions FC, we got your back! In this article we will explain to you what it takes to become an elite player, so next time the big question comes, you’ll be more than ready for it.
The wise Malcolm Gladwell once said, it takes roughly 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in any field. Great players, such as: Messi, Ronaldo, or little Johnny who happens to score goals every Saturday morning, all have one thing in common, they all started as beginners. I know what you are thinking, “yes but they are naturally talented.” And it’s true, some people are born with certain talent. However, without hard work and dedication, their talent would be worthless. Soccer season is roughly about 14 weeks, if you are practicing two times a week, it adds up to 28 practice hours. It is important that you are present at those practice hours. Simply relying on two practices a week and a game will make you improve, but if you want to become elite you must put in extra hours. Now how can you accomplish this, you ask.
A few ways to put the extra effort to increase your chances to become elite:
• Join our Technical Soccer School (8 sessions per season with small group technical training = max 6 kids per group)
• Join a soccer camp, you’ll train for up to 8 extra hours per day!
• Get with one of the coaches to sign up for private soccer (starting at $60 per hour, but focus is completely on you)
Other alternative options can also be to practice on your own at home. Focus on small technical drills with a ball, and just get as many touches as you can. Pass the ball against the wall, practice on your passing with both feet, and any other aspect of the game you can do on your own.
How to become more coachable?
In order to become more coachable, you must have discipline, you must come to practice prepared and ready to go. Because once you step on that field, nothing else should matter other than working on improving your skills. When the coach is talking, you need to listen, coaches have very valuable things to say and kids sometimes miss key indications because they don’t listen. When you do an exercise, treat it like a game, give it your 100% effort and attention. You often hear people say, “you play like you train” and I could not agree any more with them. If on practice you lack focus and effort, the same thing will happen in a game. There is no magical switch you turn on before the game and you suddenly you know everything you half did in practice, it just doesn’t work like that unfortunately.
One thing that I have noticed the most with youth players is that they don’t train efficiently. While yes, it is important to train for a lot of hours in order to improve, it is as, if not more important to use these hours efficiently. The best way to train efficiently is to become more coachable, kids spent most of their focus and energy on playing games and scrimmage during practice, and very little when it comes to technical and tactical drills. This is where the plateau comes, because in these small drills is where you really learn the techniques that you apply in the big game. On average, during a 90-minute soccer game a player has the ball on their feet between two to four minutes. Now if you ask me, just playing is a very inefficient way to improve your game. Practice is where you’ll get the most improvements. I’ll tell you a little secret about soccer; contrary to popular belief, soccer isn’t about receiving the ball on half field, dribbling past five players and scoring top corner. Soccer is about can you move off the ball to create space for yourself and others, can you time your movement, can you receive with the correct foot, play quick and be two or three plays ahead of the game. That’s what being elite is, it’s what you do on the 85 to 88 minutes that the ball is not at your feet that counts the most.