Malcolm Gladwell calls it the 10,000-Hour Rule. What does that mean? Well, if you put in the work, as in over 10,000 hours of soccer practice, which is 20 hours a week for 10 years, you'll find success, if not perfection in your chosen sport, in this case soccer. It's really about your passion and love for the game though.
This is really what made Lionel Messi the best player in the world, his love for the game and love for playing. In this adidas ad he talks about how it took him his whole life to make him the player he is today.
It's not that simple of course. It's the rare person who is dedicated enough to work at something day in and day out to reach the 10,000 hour number.
Like Messi, you have to love what you're doing to spend 10,000 hours working at it. Actually, that's why you put in all the hours, because you just love to play soccer. Messi just loves to play soccer - he rarely misses a game. And that's probably the most important part of the 10,000 rule - the love of the game and the desire to get better overrides everything else. If you want to play professional soccer then you must love playing the game and trying to get better - learning constantly is what you're after if you want to be the best. If you love to play you'll skip out on pretty much everything else to practice and play games.
The idea of 10,000 hours rings true though. If you put the work in, playing soccer day in and day out, then you'll get better and reach a lot of the goals you set for yourself. Whether that's the college level or the professional level or winning soccer tournaments with your club team.
However, you need some luck and some help, too. Otherwise you won't get those chances to succeed. You'll also need a good coach, to teach you the right technique and to get you that tryout with that better team. And you'll need parents who believe in you and to take you to all those games and get you the shoes you need. Then it would help to have a mentor, a player who's better than you and will help teach you the game. Perhaps that's an older brother or an older soccer player near where you leave who takes you under their wing. But, if you love playing, and love training on your own, then it's more than likely you'll find success no matter what - that's how you make your own luck.
Sure, not everyone is going to end up playing professional soccer, and not everyone is going to end up playing in the MLS, the English Premier League, the Serie A or La Liga. But if you are dedicated and put in 10,000 hours, you just might get that chance or come very close to it.
If you don't put in the work though, who do you have to blame but yourself.
What's key though is the passion for the game. If you don't love it then you're not going to put in the 10,000 hours. And that's where it get tough sometimes. Since, things aren't always going to go exactly as planned.
What if you don't make that team you really want to play on? Are you going to give up? Do you love the game so much that you'll take it in stride and keep working so you make it next year?
This is where good soccer coaches, mentors and your parents come into the picture. During tough times is when you need support and some encouragement, telling you that you can do it, that you'll get another chance to prove yourself. It's those soccer players, who don't make the elite squad right away, but work at the game until they do are the ones that make it in the game in the long run.
What type of soccer player are you? Are you putting in all those hours juggling the ball, dribbling, shooting, smacking the ball againt the wall, going to soccer camps, learning from better players, watching the game on TV? If so, you've got a chance to make it. Keep it up.
Here Malcolm Gladwell talks about 10,000 hour rule on CNN: