Soccer is a fun and exciting sport enjoyed throughout the world. A shining example of teamwork and physical accomplishment, the beloved sport is a terrific way for youth to learn the benefits of camaraderie and personal development.
When learning how to play soccer, there are certain skills that must be practiced and continually developed. Daily practice and constant improvement will turn you into a soccer all-star in no time at all.
It may not be the most glamorous topic but physical fitness is a key component of soccer training. With 45 minute halves and no timeouts, soccer players must have good fitness levels in order to compete for sustained lengths of time.
Soccer player need to have 2 types of fitness:
- Aerobic FitnessThis involves oxygen intake and building up the ability of the lungs and heart to pump oxygen through a person’s blood. Aerobic Fitness can be attained through jogging for prolonged distances on a regular basis. Many soccer players jog for 1-2 hours a day, in addition to performing skill drills.
- Anaerobic FitnessAnaerobic Fitness involves short bursts of intensive activity such as sprinting. This makes a person’s body more efficient at using glycogen fuel stores and dealing with a lack of oxygen in their muscles and bloodstream. In addition to jogging, soccer players perform sprinting exercises in order to increase their ability to perform on the field.
Aside from improving their fitness and building up their stamina and cardiovascular strength, players should become proficient in the basic skills of the game. Mastering the following skills are critical to your soccer success.
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Core Skills to Learn How to Play Soccer
Passing to Teammates
You need to maintain possession of the ball to win soccer games, so learning passing skills early is important. Passing can seem relatively simple but it’s a learned skill that takes practice to master.
The key to passing is to keep it simple. Beginners should only pass the ball to open teammates who are nearby. Longer passes can be mastered later as they develop their skills.
Common soccer passes are:
This is the most common soccer pass, and involves using the inside of the foot to lightly kick the ball to an open player. The key is to keep the ball on the ground so that a teammate can easily receive the pass.
A Chip Pass is used to feed the ball over the top of defenders to a teammate. It is accomplished by using getting your foot under the ball, which will pop it up in the air.
Passing into Space
Often used to set-up a teammate running toward the goal, it often involves using a chip pass to place the ball into open space down field where a teammate can receive the ball on the run.
Dribbling Around Defenders
Other than passing, strong soccer dribbling skills is the most important trait of a good soccer player. Here are some practical tips:
Restrict the Times you Dribble
Often new players tend to over-dribble and end up losing the ball. Typically passing is a better option than dribbling to ensure the team maintains possession, particularly when there is an open teammate available.
Being calm and maintaining composure is important when dribbling. It’s easy to panic when there is an oncoming defender but maintaining your composure, and relaxing will often help beat an opposition defender.
It’s important to maintain your balance and center of gravity when dribbling. Leaning forward too much can throw yourself off balance, causing you to lose rhythm and potentially lose control of the ball.
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Heading the Ball
Heading is an important and often underrated soccer skill. It’s possible to score, and save goals, through effective heading.
With proper heading skills, you can dominate the ball whenever it’s in the air. It’s important for players to learn to use their forehead when striking the ball, and not the top of their head.
Trapping and Control
Being able to trap and control the ball is another important soccer skill. There are two types of traps that allow you to control the ball, whether it is on the ground, or in the air.
Players need to have ‘soft feet’ much in the same way you need soft hands to catch a ball. To successfully trap the ball with your feet, you need to cradle the ball, making your foot similar to a glove to stop and control the ball out of the air.
A Chest Trap should be used when the ball is higher in the air. Rather than heading the ball, you can trap it using your chest, gently knocking the ball to your feet so so you can then dribble, pass or shoot.
Shooting for Goal
Shooting for goal is the last skill that players need to learn. After all of the other skills are mastered, shooting should be much easier.
Power and accuracy are important factors in effective shooting. Successful goal scorers are able to keep a low center of gravity and drive through the ball with the top of their foot, thus creating power. It’s important to follow through with your foot to keep maximum forward momentum.
Mastering shooting, like anything else, takes repetition. Great strikers can shoot with both feet. It may seem awkward shooting with your non-dominant foot at first, but repeated practice will increase your power and accuracy.
Like most sports, learning how to play soccer effectively will take time and practice. Being physically fit and learning these skills will help you to become a great soccer player, dominate the competition and enjoy the sport for years to come.
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