During every World Cup, every four years, with all the excitement around the game of soccer, there are people new to the game who want to learn how to play soccer after watching the best players in the world compete for their country’s national teams. It’s no surprise, after watching a World Cup match who doesn’t want to learn how to play soccer. But this article is not just for those new to the game, it’s for anyone who wants to become a better soccer player. It’s for anyone who wants to reach their highest potential in the game.
Not everyone will become the next Diego Maradona, but if you spend time with the soccer ball you’ll improve.
Whether you’re a parent reading this for your 5-year-old child who is just starting out in soccer or an adult who is getting ready to play soccer for the first time on a co-ed indoor soccer team, there’s one thing to know from the start, soccer is a simple game.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, too, how soccer is such a simple game. Yet, for you, just starting out it seems very complex and difficult. Things are moving too fast. That’s understandable. It will get easier with time and more practice.
The main rule to know is you can’t use your hands, and then all the other parts of the body are up for play, from the feet to the thighs to the chest, and the head. Sort of kidding around but really, that’s the game right there. The game of soccer centers around the soccer ball and controlling it, so getting comfortable with the ball is the first thing to do.
But the point of this piece is to help you wrap your head around the idea of learning how to play soccer, so here are a few key points to consider if you’re trying to learn how to play the great game of soccer:
Find a Soccer Mentor
Find someone who knows how to play the game of soccer and practice with them. Watch how they kick the ball, what part of the foot do the use, how do they control the ball? Steal all of their ideas and incorporate them into your next soccer practice session when you train on your own. Get them to show you the correct way to pass, shoot, cross, juggle, and dribble. They will be happy to help you since they love the game.
Spend Time with the Soccer Ball
If you’re someone who has never touched a soccer ball in their life, then you’ll need to start kicking the ball against a wall and juggling. Yes, it will be difficult at first but it was slowly get easier and easier as you become more comfortable with the ball. Make the ball your best friend and don’t leave it alone for a week and see how much you improve.
Start out just using the inside of your foot to pass the ball against a wall and then just try to juggle the ball back up into your hands with the instep of your foot, the laces of your feet. See if you can pass the ball with your foot ten times against the wall and then juggle the ball ten times into your hands. Do this with your favored foot and then try your weaker foot.
Then setup a line of cones to dribble through using just your favored foot. Use both the inside of your foot and then outside. Take your time and keep the ball close to you and keep your head up a little bit so you know where you are going.
There is no short cut to this, you have to spend time with the ball on your own in order to improve. Try to learn how sorts of different moves and tricks, even if you want use them in a game that will help you get more comfortable on the ball. Find a wall and pass the ball back and forth against it, hitting the ball harder and harder and testing your ability to control it.
Go to a Soccer Camp
There’s really no better way to gain a lot of soccer knowledge than to attend a soccer camp for a week. At soccer camps you’re able to pack in a lot of time with the ball as well as take part in games. You’ll be amazed how much you’ll learn and how much you will improve after just a weeklong soccer camp.
In selecting a camp you want to find one that centers on spending a lot of time with the soccer ball, learning fundamentals and techniques. Not a camp that is all about competition and stresses winning over learning. Find a camp where the coaches actually played the game at a professional level, so seek out an MLS soccer camp if you’re in the United States.
Buy a Soccer Video
There are a couple good soccer training videos on the market today, these are good tools for picking up good training habits and technique. The two I would suggest are the SoccerU series and then the Coerver Coaching DVD. You can’t go wrong with either of these as their both based around learning how to play with the ball.
What’s good about the DVDs is you can refer to them throughout the season or year, checking to see exactly how you should strike the ball if you want to bend it or how to do a certain dribbling move. Also, now Coerver offers most of their videos for instant download, meaning you don’t have to buy a DVD but can watch it online.
Find a Soccer Pick Up Game
There must be a pick up game going on in your area? Call your local soccer association or the indoor soccer center. I’m sure there are some people who gather at lunchtime or on the weekends to play small-sided games.
Many times these games are made up of people from around the world, since soccer is such a loved game worldwide. What’s great about this diversity of players is there more tricks, moves and techniques to steal and add to your game.
Or, if you can’t find a pick up game then create your own, call your friends and see if they want to meet up and play two versus two to a set of small goals. This is really how you learn to play the game of soccer, when you join up with your friends and play the game without coaches around telling you what to do. Here, in a small sided games you can try new thing and just enjoy the game.
Watch Soccer on TV or Online
In the same way you pick a soccer mentor to teach you the game, find a mentor on a team you watch on TV or online. Someone whose style of play do you admire. What position do you play? Pick someone whose style of play you admire or plays your position. Copy all of the things they do on the field and see if you can reenact them on your own.
Get in Shape
If you want to improve and play soccer at a higher level, then you’ll need to get in shape so your skills don’t deteriorate when you get tired. Try to get some exercise every day, so running or biking or working out at the gym – this is along with the time you spend with the ball juggling and dribbling.
See a Soccer Game Live
There’s only so much you can learn from watching a game on TV. But if you see a game live you’ll get a better idea of just how fast the game is played, quick one and two touch passes, and how intense a soccer game can be.
The idea with seeing a game live is to inspire and build up motivation. It wouldn’t be surprising if you’re knocking the ball around the house when you get back home after watching the game, imitating the moves you saw on the pitch.
Practice on Your Own
But again, the number one thing you can do to become a top level soccer player is to spend time with the soccer ball on your own and play in pickup games whenever you can. Spend time juggling, dribbling, and knocking the ball against a wall. The key is to get comfortable and confident with the soccer ball at your feet. If you spend an hour with the ball every single day for a week you’ll start to see big improvements in your skills and thus gain more confidence.
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