Have you ever imagined becoming a professional soccer player and playing for the Socceroo’s at a FIFA World Cup? I bet you have and I have too.
The path to becoming a professional soccer player isn’t easy, it requires commitment, dedication, sacrifice, and financial support. This article will show you how and what is required to become a professional soccer player.
1. Have a desire and passion for the game
Young soccer players must have passion for the game and have a reason for playing. These are key motivational factors that will push them to go the extra mile in training and to keep persevering when things get tough.
Because, as we all know, being a professional sports player doesn’t come easy – “if you want to be great you must work hard, and if it was easy then everyone would do it”. From an early age, you’ll need to training daily to improve your skill set, plus attend weekly team training sessions and be available to play soccer every weekend.
Your passion, desire and commitment will need to be strong as it will inevitably have an effect on your time limiting your ability to be social with your friends.
2. Get football fit and put the right fuel in your engine
Soccer is a 90-minute game and on average a footballer will cover between 8 and 12 kms in a game. It therefore requires stamina, both physically and mentally. So, young, aspiring soccer players must continually improve match fitness if they want to take their game to the next level.
This can be done by cross country running, interval training, and weight sessions at the gym. Nowadays, Soccer is a high intensity movement game, all soccer players require excellent core strength, pace, leap and most importantly agility.
Southampton forward, Charlie Austin says “training on Tuesday and Thursday nights and playing a game on Saturday is not enough. You need to train five times a week. It got me to the fitness level of a professional. If you do that, you would be four or five steps ahead of everyone else at trial camps“.
Another way to improve match fitness is to eat healthily. Bayern Munich star and Germany World Cup hero – Mario Gotze says diet is an important part of the professional game – “A dietary plan helps me to stay physically and mentally fit. I eat a lot of fresh fruit and fish and drink water with my meal to help digestion and keep me hydrated before kick-off”.
3. Be confident
The next step is to believe you have what it takes, confidence is key to out performing your competition.
Derby County Star, Tom Ince says “if you haven’t got confidence, there’s no point playing the game“.
So, how do you become more confident? Positive thinking and practice for starters. We all know that practice makes perfect, practice also “makes confidence”. With more pratice and better preparation, you will gain more confidence in your soccer ability and in your body language.
As your confidence builds in the training sessions it will eventually transition into matches. It’s not just current success though, past success can also be used as a confidence builder.
Arsenal winger, Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain calls it a “no fear” approach, he says that to be successful in the future, you need to have confidence to do what has brought you success in the past. You need to be confident and be comfortable playing as a ‘part’ because Soccer is played with 11 players, it is a team game.
Understanding your role as part of a team becomes increasingly important. Good soccer players help each other succeed on the pitch.
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4. Perfect your skills
According to Chelsea playmaker, Eden Hazard, as a player you need to be hungry and never be satisfied. “To become a top player in soccer, you can never be satisfied. You must always want more. I don’t just want to win the Premier League and FA Cup, I want to win everything. That’s what drives me to get better.”
Daniel Sturridge believes in self-improvement too, because good players don’t have any weaknesses. The fundamental soccer skills are first touch, passing, shooting, crossing, heading and tackling. These skills vary depending on your position and game situation.
One way to improve your kids’ soccer skills is at a soccer sports camp. Australian Sports Camps run structured three-day, coaching programs every school holidays that will improve your child’s soccer abilities and help them stand out in Sunday league and at trials.
Recent special guest coaches have included Jack Hingert, Roddy Vargas, Matt Jurman, Jamie Harnwell, Caitlin Munoz, and Adelaide United captain, Eugene Galekovic. Book here for our Autumn soccer camps.
Another method is to watch soccer matches. You want to sit high up, close to halfway, so you see the way players move. Follow a player who plays in your position. If you’re a winger, watch how they move and find space. Note the player’s movement or anything that you want to emulate, record and work on it.
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5. Impress coaches at trials and stay professional
Be fully prepared before the trials and overcome nerves by visualization training – Think about what you would do with the ball in different situations and work hard for your teammates when you don’t have the ball.
At trials, you can’t go onto the pitch and play like everyone else, you must play your own game and showcase your strengths. If you’re good at dribbling, then take players on. If you failed at the trial, that’s fine but just be patient and keep on improving yourself and impress at the next one.
Lastly, “Every time you go onto the pitch, always give 100 percent because you never know who’s watching. The one day you can’t be bothered could be the day a scout is on the sidelines assessing you“ says Charlie Austin.
What Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger looks for in young players
A final word from Arsene Wenger who looks for the following:
- At age 12, you need technical ability; can the player dribble past defenders?
- At age 14 to 16, you need physical training; can the player cope with the demands of professional sport?
- At age 16 to 18, you need team chemistry; can the player understand how to connect with other players on and off-the-pitch?
- At aged 20, you need professionalism, how does the player prepare? How does the player cope with life’s temptations and the sacrifices a top player must make? Can the player listen and follow instruction instructed by the manger and coaches?