If you want to play professional or college level soccer then you’ll need to train during the off-season and not just when you’re with your club team.
So while the sun is shining this summer and school is out, it’s good to get away from the game for a little bit and go swimming or play other sports, but you can’t step away from the game too long. And if you love the game you won’t want to take a long break anyway. If you love the game, you’ll actually have a hard time not kicking the ball around on your own.
Of course, as an elite player, you’re likely playing for numerous teams: From your club team to your high school team to the state or regional team. Along with this you might be attending various camps or tournaments during the summer break.
But what separates the good players from the great players is the drive to constantly want to get better.
The great players make use of their free time to work on their weaknesses. This might be striking the ball with their weaker foot or perfecting a series of new dribbling moves to add to an arsenal of moves.
Yet training on your own doesn’t just mean juggling in the yard and seeing if you can exceed your record of 599 juggles with just your feet. While this is good to do, training on your own also means finding pickup soccer games to play in or playing with older players who are better than you. The idea is to challenge yourself and step outside your comfort zone. Seek out the most competitive games you can find in your area. Contact an older player who’s back for the summer from college and see if you can train with him or her.
The idea is to force yourself to play faster and smarter. The idea is to push yourself to the next level. The idea is to try new things, play different positions, and just get better.
It’s not just juggling 500 times; it’s juggling 500 times while walking or jogging up the field. It’s not just mastering a new dribbling move, it’s seeing if you can do this move in a competitive situation at pace. Sure, you can control the ball out of the air with your instep, but can you control the ball in a certain direction while under pressure.
When training on your own, come up with a series of skills to work on and then add them together. First it’s juggling with just your feet, then it’s a new move, and then it’s striking the ball with your weaker foot. Incorporate all those skills into one drill – and slowly increase the speed at which you do those skills.
Here’s a quick example of a drill you can do on your own: Juggle the ball twenty times, kick the ball up in the air, control it to one side, dribble at a slow pace, do your move, burst away at speed, and then strike the ball against a wall. See if you can do this series of skills ten times, each time increasing the speed.
This summer, while other kids are sitting in front of the television or their iPad playing video games, see what you can do to get better. In doing this, you’ll make strides towards make your dream of playing at the highest level possible.
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