With football being the most popular sport in the world, and with so many people starting out at a young age, the chances of becoming a professional are slim at best. Consequently, there are some things an aspiring athlete must do if they have any hope of making it as a footballer.
Even if you aren’t looking to becoming a professional, there is always room for improvement regardless of what your end goal is – this is the beauty of football.
So, what is the fastest way to get better at football? Follow this 9-step guide for some tips.
1. Improve your Fitness
It is really difficult to overstate the importance of fitness when it comes to football, and it only becomes more and more important the older you get. You can have all the skills in the world, but they are effectively redundant if you aren’t fit enough to properly utilize them.
Football is particularly fast paced nowadays so a good way to improve agility is through interval training. After warming up, do a running exercise that alternates between sprints that last between 20 and 30 seconds and a slow jog that lasts 30 seconds.
2. Practice your First Touch
Having a good first touch is essential in becoming a good football player. Being able to control the ball tightly (with both feet) will make a massive impact on your ability to do everything else. Your first touch essentially dictates what you will do with the ball next.
Development academies will more often than not get you to start training with close range passing for this reason, and you should swap feet every now and again to ensure both are being properly developed.
3. Improve your Weak Foot
Getting confident with your weak foot is also essential in becoming a well-rounded player. This is one of the less fun things to practice, but it needs to be done. Even professionals are hindered by a lack luster weak foot sometimes.
4. Control and dribbling in tight areas
Being able to dribble in tight areas is key to your ability to play any position, even defense. This is particularly true in today’s climate of fast-past football, as being able to tackle is pretty much useless if you don’t feel confident once you get the ball. This is why it is so important for defenders to be able to control and dribble the ball well.
5. Practice passing
Another ability required for every position is passing. While most people think of midfielders when they think of players with great passing ability, it is really essential for every player to be able to pass confidently regardless of their position.
6. Set goals
Whether you are aiming to becoming a professional or just looking to join a local pub league team, it is absolutely vital that you set ambitious but realistic goals. This could be in regard to both fitness and technique, as improving becomes much easier when you have clearly defined goals.
7. Have a Healthy Diet
An often-overlooked aspect of athleticism is diet. Keeping a close eye on what you eat and drink is massively important to making sure your fitness stays intact. At lower level teams, there will not be a nutritionist to help guide you with your diet, so its up to you to make sure what you’re consuming is healthy and beneficial to your fitness.
Of course if you’re only aiming for pub league level football then the odd cheat meal is fine and even encouraged for your sanities sake, but your general consumption should still be carefully monitored.
8. Watch a lot of Football
If you’re not playing football, the best thing to do is watch live football, and get some real time visual tips from the pros themselves. For instance, closely analyzing the players who play in your position can be surprisingly beneficial. Aside from live football, watching shows like Match of the Day and listening to the pundits can also help. Make sure you take what you see and hear back to the playing field though, it can be easy to forget and simply watch for the enjoyment.
Even professionals try to watch as much game footage is possible in order to learn from other players and figure out how to beat them
9. Prioritize preventing injuries
Managers and coaches are going to push you to your limits every session, so it is very important to do stretches before any exercise. There is no worse feeling than making progress only to get injured during a match or training session, so never forget to keep hydrating and do stretches to prevent this from happening.