Lionel Messi is now considered one of the greatest soccer players of our generations, with some even calling him the greatest player of all time. No wonder many kids want to play soccer like Lionel Messi. And when you look at what he has achieved, at just 29 years of age, those statements carry a lot of weight:
And the list really does go on… But what is it that makes Messi so great? When you look at his physique there is nothing all that special. In fact, as a child, he had growth hormone deficiency, which stunted his growth significantly. But even this major setbacks didn’t stop the Pulga Atomica (Atomic Flea), as he is affectionately known by his fans, from becoming the best player in the world. So let’s take a closer look at Lionel Messi and how he approaches the game of soccer to bring some of these attributes into you game.
Messi’s major strength lies in his ball handling skills. When Messi dribbles the ball it’s like it is attached to his feet. He can run at full speed, keep full control of the ball and change direction or pace at any moment to out manoeuvre his opponents. To play like Messi you need to learn how to dribble and manoeuvre like Messi. These tips will help you become a great ball handler.
All great dribblers keep the ball close to their feet. You want to aim to make as many touches as possible and never let the ball more than a metre away from you. A simple snaking drill in and out of tightly grouped markers will help build your fundamental dribbling skills Practice:
When trapping and dribbling the ball you need to know what’s going on around you. As well as, what the defenders are doing. Watching the defenders allows you to catch them off balance. Especially, if you watch their hips to see which way the body weight is moving then plan your attack in the other direction. Also, it helps you to see where your teammates are, so you can look for passing opportunities to set up goals or attacking moves. Practise:
One of Messi’s great strengths is his explosive speed. He will often approach a defender in a slow jog, then at the perfect time when the defender starts to move in one direct Messi will explode past them in the opposite direction. Practise:
Messi had a slight advantage in this area as he’s only 170 centimetres tall. But even for taller players you will want to dribble with your head over the ball. Staying as low to the ground as possible. This is in contrast to standing very stiff and erect. The benefit of this is that you are able to change direction quicker and are less likely to be bumped off the ball. Also, if you watch Messi play, you’ll notice that even though he is much smaller than most defenders, he never gets pushed around or bumped off the ball because he keeps his body’s centre of gravity as low as possible.
There is no substitute for having time with the ball at your feet. Walk to the shops, around the school ground, hanging out with friends take a soccer ball with you. With every touch your feel and skill will improve. You really need to love the game of soccer. Messi was fanatical about soccer as a kid and still loves the game today. He’s quoted as saying: ‘First of all you’ve got to love the game.’ How much? ‘Well … from the age of three I played every day: every morning, afternoon and night. Inside the house, too. I’d break things. My mum would go mad …’ From this constant practise you’ll notice how much more control you have over the ball.
To be the best you need to learn from the best. Quality coaches and professional soccer players know the game inside and out and even simple little tips about how to improve your technique can make immediate and massive improvements to your game. Even if your club or school coach is a great coach it’s always good to train and play with different players and coaches. This is where Soccer Coaching Camps can really help you get to that next level. Australian Sports Camps run soccer camps and clinics every school holidays and have coaching clinics with A-League starts teaching the latest cutting edge soccer drills. By practising hard and trying some of the drill listed above you’ll improve your dribbling and ball handling skills and begin to emulate one of the greatest of all time, Lionel Messi.
Get involved in a school holiday soccer camp in these school holidays.