Would you like to reach your full potential as a soccer player? You’ll need more than great technique and ambition. To become a great soccer player, you’ll also need game intelligence, physical fitness, and the proper mindset. But what exactly constitutes technique, game intelligence, physical fitness, and the proper mindset? What soccer skills are taught at the best soccer camps in the world that can help you reach your full potential and achieve success in football?
In this article, we break down the most important soccer skills that can help you reach your full potential and achieve success in soccer.
- Technique – Ball control, Dribbling skills, Passing accuracy, Body control
- Game intelligence – Spatial awareness, Tactical knowledge, Risk assessment
- Physical fitness – Endurance, Balance and coordination, Speed, Strength and power
- Proper mindset – Compassion, Composure and mental strength, Coachability, Self-motivation
High-performance soccer academies are boarding schools for elite, young soccer players designed to develop their skills and prepare them to compete at a collegiate, semi-professional, or professional level. The best academies not only have the connections and the know-how to help their students make it to the big leagues, but they also take education seriously and prepare their students for success in all areas of life.
Technique is perhaps the most visibly obvious element to success in football. Even an amateur can recognize good technique. Do they have good ball control? Are they fast with the ball at their feet? Can they dribble through their opponents? Do they pass to feet? Join a summer soccer camp to practice good technique.
Good technique has 4 key elements:
1. Ball control
Ball control refers to a player’s ability to collect the ball and gain control of it using all parts of the body including feet, legs, chest, and head. A player with good ball control is able to receive passes both on the ground and out of the air with clean first touches keeping the ball close to their body. Ball control also refers to a player’s ability to maintain possession of the ball, successfully protecting it from opponents. The ability to turn quickly and sharply with the ball is also of upmost important to achieving success in football and falls under the ball control element.
2. Dribbling skills
Dribbling skills refers to a player’s ability move up and down the pitch with full control of the ball. A player with good dribbling skills can move the ball in different directions at different speeds with both feet. They can successfully maneuver through opponents without losing possession of the ball. Superb drilling skills are essential to achieving success in football for players of all positions.
3. Passing accuracy
Passing accuracy refers to a player’s ability to use both feet to send the ball to the player’s desired destination. That could mean sending the ball straight to a teammate’s feet with power and precision, sending a through pass into space with proper weight, crossing the ball accurately in front of the net, or, for strikers shooting the ball accurately and powerful into the back of the net. Players cannot achieve success in football without being able to pass accurately with both feet.
4. Body control
Body control refers to a player’s ability to move their body fluidly to optimize balance and coordination. Since body control falls under the category of technique rather than physical fitness, body control refers mostly to correctness of form. Long strides, correct running form, and a low center of gravity are good indications of good body control.
Improving technique is a question of hours of practice and specifically repetitive drills. Playing in friendly scrimmages isn’t the best way to improve any one of these essential skills. Instead, players should practice drills which target each specific skill until they perfect each skill. Then, they should take those skills to the pitch and practice them critical during match play. Check out these soccer drills you can practice with a friend.
Game intelligence is measured by a player’s ability to make smart decisions on the pitch and make them quickly. A smart footballer aims to keep the game as clean as possible, minimizing energy expenditure while maximizing results. Essentially, game intelligence implies playing smarter, not harder. Sign up for a summer soccer camp to learn how to be an intelligent player.
Game intelligence comprises 3 skills:
5. Spatial awareness
Spatial awareness refers to a player’s ability to see space clearly across the entire pitch and utilize it to their advantage. What does it mean to see space clearly?
First of all, players need to be aware of the immediate space around them. According to the position of the ball, their own teammates, and their opponents, where should they be? Should they be moving into a space to receive a pass? Should they be drawing defenders away from their teammate who has the ball to create open space for them?
Secondly, intelligent players are always aware of where their teammates are and where they should be according to the positioning of the other team. There are two reasons they need to know where their teammates are and should be: (1) to tell them where they should be if they’re not there, and (2) to anticipate their teammate’s position and make a quick, instinctive pass almost without looking. In fact, scouts often look for this sixth sense of a footballer.
Finally, intelligent players are extremely aware of the geometry of the game. They know how to position themselves and others to make wide angles and easy passing opportunities for themselves while on offense and narrow angles and difficult passing opportunities for their opponents while on defense.
Spatial awareness is a complicated skill which encompasses many other skills absolutely essential to achieving success in football. In fact, spatial awareness is also closely related to the next game intelligence skill, tactical knowledge.
One way to improve spatial awareness is to watch a lot of beautiful football and watch it actively. That means paying attention to more than just the ball. Watch the position of all the players on the field (on both teams) and try to anticipate their passes and positioning. Tip: Watch older recorded games. Pause the game often and really concentrate on players’ positioning. Save the current matches for enjoying with friends.
6. Tactical knowledge
Tactical knowledge refers to a player’s knowledge of the nature and structure of the game. The formation of a team highly influences the tactics they will use to win. Soccer formations have changed drastically throughout the years. If you want to be an intelligent soccer player, it’s a good idea to get to know the various kinds of formations used today and the tactics and strategies that go along with each one.
While spatial awareness helps intelligent players see their immediate opportunities, tactical knowledge contributes to a player’s ability to anticipate the future opportunities that will arise from each move. For this reason, tactically intelligent players are great at maintaining possession and not only waiting for the right moment to attack, but also creating the right moment to attack. By anticipating the moves of their own players and their opponents, intelligent players can move the ball across the field, creating gaps in the opposing team’s defense until they have just enough space to attack.
Tactical intelligence is also critical to performing well on defense and perhaps even more important. On defense, players should constantly be assessing the field to accurately anticipate their opponents’ next moves. If they anticipate correctly, they can close down their opponents’ angles, prevent easy passes between them, and force them to make a mistake.
Tactical intelligence is especially important for center backs and central midfielders because these players are in the best position not only to see the entire pitch but also to communicate with and command their teammates. Nevertheless, extraordinary tactical knowledge is vital for anyone who really wants to achieve great success in football.
One of the best ways to acquire game intelligence is to train with different coaches and players at various times throughout the year. By doing so, players learn different perspectives and expand their strategic repertoire.
Many well-known club teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona FC, Manchester City Liverpool, Chelsea or PSG offer summer camps and year-round camps where players get to learn to play according to their philosophies and methodologies. Some programs even offer theoretical workshops and video analysis where they discuss the decision making skills of each player on the pitch.
Another very popular option is to sign up for a summer program at one of the best private soccer academies in the world. At Ertheo we offer different options of high-performance academies including the Barlceona High Performance Academy and the UK High Performance Academy.
7. Risk assessment
Risk refers to the fact that certain aggressive decisions could lead to loss of possession (or failure to regain possession in the case of diving or tackling on defense). When a team loses possession, each and every team member must expend extra energy until they regain control. Such aggressive decisions could lead to over expenditure of energy and inability to perform well for the full 90 minutes of the match. On the other hand, a complete lack of aggressive decisions in an effort to conserve energy and maintain possession could prevent the team from scoring goals and ultimately lead to a loss.
Physical fitness is another essential element to achieving success in football; a football match lasts for 90 – 95 minutes with very few subs. According to Livestrong, midfielders run an average of over 11 kilometers per match. Wingers perform the most “high-intensity” runs averaging nearly 150 sprints of at least 75% of their full speed per match. Apart from goalkeepers, center-backs run the least but still average 9.5 kilometers per match.
In addition to endurance and speed, footballers need balance and physical strength to defend the ball at their feet, to shoot, to pass the ball long distances, to win balls out of the air, etc.
In conclusion, physical fitness in football comprises 4 essential elements:
According to dictionary.com, endurance is the ability or strength to continue to last especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions. That is, endurance not only refers to a player’s physical fitness and ability to make it through the entire 90 minutes. It also refers to a player’s mental strength and ability to continue despite the overwhelming fatigue he or she might feel.
Elite footballers must not just endure physically but also mentally. As the body fatigues, control, focus, and decision making becomes more and more difficult. The ability to perform both physically and mentally for more than 90 minutes is crucial to achieving success in football.
“The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking.”
9. Balance and coordination
Great balance and coordination are necessary skills for footballers. Footballers are often moving fast in small spaces either weaving through defenders or, on defense, keeping up with the moves of offenders. Moving quickly in small spaces with one foot on the ball requires a superb amount of balance and coordination. Balance and coordination (mixed with speed) is what makes a player agile and agility is a necessary skill for the best footballers.
Speed is necessary for footballers in terms of both quickness and quick feet and speed across greater distances. Speed in terms of quickness and quick feet goes hand in hand with balance and coordination. This type of quick speed in small spaces contributes to a player’s agility and ability to weave through defenders. The quickness is also essential for defensive players to keep up with their mark and to keep offensive players from dodging them or sprinting passed them with the ball.
The second kind of speed is speed across greater distances. Such speed assists footballers in beating their opponents to the ball and also beating them in long runs down the sidelines both on offense and defense. Speed is a baseline skill for footballers and is of upmost importance. A player might be super agile with the ball at their feet, but if they’re slow and can’t beat their opponents to the ball, they’ll never get the opportunity to show off their agility.
Running form is extremely important for speed. There are some general rules of running form that equate to running efficiently and increasing speed. For example:
- The runner should run with their body slightly leaning forward. This allows the runner to keep the core contracted to lift the knees and drive forward.
- Additionally, such form makes it easier to land with the knee just over the toe. A runner should never strike the ground in front of their center of gravity as they not only run the risk of injury but also lose power.
- The runner should run with short quick strides. Stretching and over-striding makes it difficult to strike the ground in line with the knee and results in risk of injury and loss of power.
Proper running form is a semi-controversial topic. Some say that the runner should land on the forefoot rather than the heel of the foot. Others say that the runner should always strike the ground from heel to toe. Seeking professional advice or attending a camp designed to improve running form would be a great investment for a football player who’s interested in increase their speed.
Additionally, functional strength training could greatly increase running speed. Functional strength training in terms of running includes running with parachutes or weight sleds, or running in partners with bungee cords (over-speed training).
Read this article about improving sprint speed.
Check out the video below explaining how to use bungee cords to run faster.
11. Strength and power
Strength and power contribute to a player’s speed and agility as well as their ability to shoot, make long passes, defend and shield the ball, steal the ball from their opponents, and win balls out of the air.
Leg strength is undoubtedly important for passing the ball long distances and shooting and is undeniably advantageous in almost all aspects of the game. That being said, upper body strength and particularly core strength is also favorable while defending and shielding the ball and stealing the ball from opponents. In football, arm strength is often used to create space between the attacking player and their opponents while leg strength is used to maintain a low center of gravity. Therefore, while leg workouts are essential and should be prioritized, upper body workouts should not be overlooked.
Speed and agility are the physical attributes that are typically assigned to a so-called skilled player, but even an agile player can be easily pushed off the ball and lose possession without strength and power in both the upper and lower body.
Technique and game intelligence are vital to achieving success in football. However, without the strength and power to win the ball, protect the ball, send long and powerful passes, and sprint past opponents, even the most intelligent players are quite useless on the pitch.
Proper mindset is the final key to achieving success in football. To really achieve success, footballers have to put all their heart and soul into their sport. That being said, such passion can result in devastation after defeat or burnout. To achieve success in football, football players need to find a balance and learn to be passionate, while maintaining composure, and demonstrating resilience.
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.
Proper mindset comprises 4 core traits:
12. Passion and love for the sport
The most important trait that a footballer must have to achieve success in football is a burning passion and love for the sport. In order to achieve success, footballers put in incomprehensible hours of practice, and once they achieve success, they continue to do so. These hours not only include time on the pitch but also time spent watching football matches, analyzing them, reflecting upon a player’s own performance on the pitch, etc.
To achieve success in football, one must eat, sleep, and breathe football.
DID YOU KNOW…
Have you heard of the 10,000 hour rule? The 10,000 hour rule states that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in something. The rule was based on a study by K. Anders Ericsson and made famous by Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book Outliers. Although the rule has officially been disproven, the point remains – it takes a lot of practice to become an expert and even more practice to become one of the best in the world.
13. Composure and mental strength
Passion and love for the sport is often accompanied by extreme competitiveness. Those who LOVE their sport LOVE to win. This competitiveness is certainly crucial to achieving success in football, but it should also be accompanied by composure and mental strength.
Composure and mental strength can help a player to:
- Perform well under pressure – When time is running out, players often begin to play frantically. Composure helps a player to make rational decisions even in the last minutes of the match. Composure is also important in crucial game situations such as penalty kicks or even breakaways.
- Accept defeat – Mental strength is important for a player to be able to accept defeat and continue to train and play with a clear mind, empty of regret.
- Deal with unnecessary aggression from the other team – During matches, players can certainly get unnecessarily aggressive with players from the other team, pushing, elbowing, and stepping on feet when the referee isn’t looking. It’s easy to retaliate in rage. However, rage invokes a physical state which leads to poor decision making on the pitch and, ultimately, losses.
- Accept rejection and persevere – Footballers on the path to becoming professional football players will certainly have to deal with rejection along the way. The path for most is long and arduous. Many players get rejected from teams that they think will be their road to success. It’s important to accept this rejection and keep moving forward.
The secret is to believe in your dreams; in your potential that you can be like your star, keep searching, keep believing and don’t lose faith in yourself.
Another important trait of a football player with the proper mindset is their coachability. Dr. Goldberg, Sports Performance Consultant and internationally-known expert in peak sports performance, describes the un-coachable athlete as “that individual who feels that he/she is never wrong, that the coach is unfairly picking on them whenever any kind of critical or even constructive feedback is given and the player who simply refuses to take any responsibility for his/her mistakes or failure.”
No matter how talented a player might be, they have to be willing to learn from their coaches. This means not only listening to his or her instructions, but also seeking out, accepting, and integrating feedback without defensive backlash. Players should also demonstrate an ability to self-correct and try new actions to get improved results.
The final trait a football player must possess to truly achieve success in football is self-motivation. As mentioned early, becoming one of the best in the world requires an incredible amount of practice. To practice for the necessary amount of hours at the necessary intensity, serious footballers must put in extra hours and make all kinds of sacrifices including waking up early to train, adhering to a strict diet and exercise routine, and missing out on all kinds of experiences with their peers.
Becoming a successful soccer player is a challenge for even the most talented players. These 15 skills are essential to your development as a soccer player, but you’ll need more than skill to go pro. Specifically, you need knowledge about exactly how you can become a professional player. The absolute best way to achieve success in soccer and even become a professional soccer player is to attend a high-performance soccer academy as a high school student. At high-performance academies, students explore their options to play professionally without neglecting their education.
It’s a lot of work, but check out how much successful soccer players make! Click the picture below to find out.
If you decide you want to succeed more than you want anything else in the world, then success is possible.
Good luck on your mission.
3 Tips on How to Get a Competitive Advantage in Football
Aside from the 15 skills we mentioned before, there are also some additional methods that help increase your chances of succeeding in football.
Gaining a competitive edge over other players will help you stand out to scouts and coaches, and it’s simply a matter of athletic and educational training.
This is why we have gathered three tips that will help you improve your skills and become a professional player.
1. Join a Private High-Performance Football Academy
Contrary to what many believe, attending a private football academy can provide better athletic training than joining the lower divisions of some of the most prestigious football clubs in Europe.
Private academies offer advantages that a traditional football club school simply cannot match. These schools have very few vacancies, many applicants, and require previous training experience to be able to join a professional team.
Moreover, 5 out of 6 lower-division players are released before they turn 21, resulting in an extremely low success rate.
Private academies, on the other hand, focus not only on sports, but players’ educational development as well. They are devoted to preparing students for all walks of life, so they can have a solid plan B in case their football aspirations fail.
Let’s go over the advantages of private football academies compared to football club schools:
- Comprehensive Training: Private academies are not focused solely on football. They prepare students for all walks of life, prioritising football without neglecting their education.
- Unbiased Assessment: Since private academies are not associated with any institution, player’s performance reviews will always be honest and impartial. From the moment a student joins an academy, their future possibilities for making it in professional football are assessed.
- Cultural Exchange: Ertheo works with international academies that welcome students from all over the world, which creates the perfect environment for cultural exchange and global learning.
- Personalised Care: Private academies provide much more personalised care to their students. While large club academies are only focused on making a profit by selling, loaning, or signing players, private academies are committed to the needs and goals of each of their students and strive to help them reach their full potential.
2. Enrol on an Online Course + Get a Remote UEFA Pro Personal Coach
Yes, just like any university degree nowadays, football can also be studied remotely with Ertheo.
The best thing is that students get the same care and training they would from a face-to-face course. All the basic concepts of the game have been adapted to take students directly to the highest level.
What’s more, the course includes the supervision and advice of a remote UEFA Pro personal coach that provides each student with completely personalised evaluations and follow-ups to ensure their continuous improvement throughout the training sessions.
As for the theoretical part of the course, the syllabus includes the following topics:
- Offence: Basic concepts on offensive positioning, tactical insight, and ability to identify and exploit open spaces and opponent’s mistakes, as well as all technical aspects regarding ball control, strikes, dribbles, and passes.
- Defence: Defensive positioning on the field, adapting to the most common formations, the behaviour of each defensive position, risk management, and decision making.
- Out of Possession: Players are taught what to do when they are not in possession, whether they are close or far from the ball and their team is attacking or defending.
Individualised Plan for the Start of the Season
At the beginning of the season, training sessions are focused on improving players’ aerobic endurance. Working on their fitness is crucial for them to have enough energy to practise their technique and the basic aspects of the game.
Furthermore, this stage also involves working on their maximum strength because all competitive athletes must be strong, especially when it comes to contact sports.
Physical conditioning prepares players for the demands of a high-level match.
Individual Plan for the Season’s Competitive Period
At the start of the competitive period of the season, players begin to practise their anaerobic endurance, i.e., their ability to put in a highly intensive physical effort for a short period of time. This part of training is combined with explosive strength and speed sessions.
Once players are in peak physical condition, it is time to push further and start training their speed, a fundamental quality for being accepted into professional teams and earning playing time.
Additional Areas of Study
- Game Insight
Throughout the course, players will learn how to read a game and have a good understanding on the field.
In the offensive, defensive, and transition phases, players must be fully aware of their role in each period of gameplay so that they can avoid shortcomings within the team.
These training sessions test players’ intelligence and aim to drastically improve their decision making and risk management skills while on the field.
Of course, the tactical aspect of the game will also be discussed in depth so that players can adapt to several positions and adjust their game based on different match situations.
- Self-Awareness – Identifying your own Skills
Every player who wants to succeed in football must be aware of their own limitations and areas for improvement.
Identifying your strengths and weaknesses is of paramount importance, which is why at Ertheo we teach students about self-analysis and introspection.
Reinforcing our strengths and minimising our weaknesses is the safest way to reach the highest level, whereas hiding or denying any shortcomings you may have will only make you stagnate and become a limited player.
What’s more, being aware of your faults can help you develop humility, a much needed quality in all walks of life.
- Interpersonal-Awareness – Identifying the Opponents’ Skills
This is basically the same process as the previous point but focusing on the opponent instead of ourselves.
Studying your opponents before a match is a big plus when it comes to identifying their strengths and weaknesses. However, youth ranks don’t usually have the technology and resources to be able to study a team before a match, which is why you have to assess them on the spot.
This course teaches students to identify which specific technique, action, or movement an opposing player may struggle with in order to take full advantage.
Furthermore, recognizing the opponents’ strengths is just as important, so as to make defensive adjustments as necessary and avoid an opponent making a difference by repeating a previously successful play.
Composure and good decision making are essential for maintaining control during a match. It is normal for young football players to be more impulsive and frantic, but it is important to understand that every action on the field has a consequence.
Self-control, the ability to maintain focus throughout a match, and leadership are much sought after qualities by coaches.
- Identifying Open Spaces
One of the most important parts of an offensive play is being able to identify open spaces between the lines of the opposing team.
On this course, players will learn how to spot and take advantage of open spaces to imbalance the opposing defence and create windows of opportunity to generate dangerous plays.
These spaces should not only be recognized by the player in possession of the ball, but also the player who must take that space in a timely manner. All players must therefore learn to identify open spaces and exploit them at the exact moment in order to surprise the rival team.
- Quick Thinking
Being fast on the field is very important, but it’s not much use if you cannot think on your feet before taking action.
The ability to react and improvise effectively against unexpected plays is something every player should develop.
The less time available, the harder it is to make a decision, but successful athletes know how to take advantage of these situations by acting quicker, being bolder, and gaining the upper hand.
- Taking Advantage of Open Spaces
Even though identifying an open space is step one, it is of no use if a player doesn’t know how to exploit it to throw off the opponent.
This area of study is focused on space distribution within the field and the effects certain movements and passes can produce in the opposing team.
- Time Management
Offensive phases cannot always have the same rhythm. Intensity should fluctuate so as to avoid predictable plays and exploit players’ strengths.
On this course, players will learn how to manage the tempo of a match according to the score, possession, and other variables.
A quick attack doesn’t always mean a successful one, and this will become very clear to players after the training sessions.
Players must constantly self-evaluate in order to keep improving every aspect of their game.
No one can know your limitations, strengths, and weaknesses better than yourself. It is crucial to recognize the importance of self-analysing your performance and adopting an objective criterion regarding decision making and post-game evaluation.
- Gym Routine for the Season
The academy provides each student with a personalised gym routine based on their age, weight, and physical condition. This way, players can make the most of their gym sessions.
- Examples of role models according to their position
There is no better way to learn than by watching the best players in action. On this course, students will study several football role models who play in different positions.
The aim is to encourage students to incorporate and adapt the technical and tactical resources of these prominent players into their own skill repertoire.
3. Make the Most of your Own Remote UEFA Pro Personal Coach
Another key advantage of Ertheo’s online course is that it includes a remote personal football coach to provide players with individual follow-up.
Traditional academy coaches are usually in charge of about 20 to 25 players per session and therefore cannot provide the same level of care to all students at the same time. As a result, many players are often neglected and their learning stagnates due to lack of attention.
A great way to counteract this is by hiring an online UEFA Pro personal coach who can monitor the player’s progress remotely. This is a very simple and practical process for both parties; all you have to do is record your matches and training sessions so that your UEFA Pro personal coach can assess your performance.
The recording needs to be in high resolution and, although it should include an overview of the team’s tactical set-up and other details, it must be focused on you, your movements, and your performance on the field.
There is no better way to learn than through trial and error. Combine this with the personal coach’s active follow-up and advice, and you will improve exponentially from one training session to the next.
The online personal trainer will follow all your movements closely to assess your performance, technique, game insight, and every other relevant aspect in a football match. You will receive fully personalised feedback, including evaluations, instructions, and training exercises you must adopt to improve any shortcomings that were identified in the submitted videos. This teaching methodology will make you actively think about the decisions you make on the field.
Personalised training is always better than group training and now, thanks to your own remote UEFA Pro personal coach, you can benefit from it from the comfort of your own home. Make the most of all the coach’s advice and you will see how quickly your game improves.
Becoming a successful football player is an enormous challenge for even the most talented players. The 15 skills together with the 3 additional tips we have covered here are essential for your football development, but you will need much more than skill to become a professional.
Perseverance, accepting criticism, and always moving forward are the most important qualities for keeping your football career afloat.
Remember to never give up, always surround yourself with the best possible counselling, and work with the unshakeable conviction that you will achieve your dreams.
And of course, if you decide to join a high-performance football academy, give your absolute best so that you increase your chances of making it in professional football!
We believe that both athletes and their parents deserve to feel confident that they’ve chosen the right program for their athletic improvement and personal growth. That’s why we made it our mission not only to offer and endorse the best youth sports programs for athletic and personal success but also to advise athletes and their parents about their best options.
- Youth sports programs – We offer and endorse the best youth sports programs in the world. All our programs ensure athletic improvement, academic development, and personal growth and prepare students for success in all three areas. See all programs
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