How to get better at football

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Young lads playing football at a PFSA open day

Most professional footballer players trained tirelessly from a young age to get to where they are, but there’s nothing stopping you improving your skills at a later stage.

The key to getting better at football is passion, so if you love the game and actively want to improve your skills or are planning on attending a football trail day, you can follow these tips to get better and push yourself to the next level.

Practice controlling the ball

It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many football players don’t take the time to practice controlling the ball. There’s a reason your school P.E. teacher had you dribble a ball around a set of cones or take it along a straight line, keeping it moving without kicking it too far in front. Those activities are about control and making sure you can keep your feet on the ball, even when the movement isn’t something you’re completely used to.

Get yourself a set of cones and practice dribbling the ball distances until you’re used to it.

Keep on top of your fitness

Football keeps you active, but it’s not the only exercise you should be doing. When playing football, you need to stay active for 45 minutes at a time, and that takes some strength. Not to mention, you need good leg strength when kicking the ball, whether passing or taking a shot at a goal.

Get down the gym, or create a home gym, and keep on top of your squats and lunges. Cycling is also fantastic exercise, so consider travelling by bike when you can.

Train regularly

You’ve probably heard it numerous times before, but the best way to get better at anything is practice, practice and more practice.

To improve your skills, you need to train regularly. This doesn’t necessarily mean joining a club, although it can be beneficial to train with a club, but could just mean practicing your technique on your own in your garden or getting together with some friends down the local park.

The main consideration when training is to be disciplined, play to your best ability, identify where your weaknesses are and then work on improving them.

How to get better at football

Take feedback on-board

Most people doing anything don’t get anywhere by doing their own thing and never listening to what others have to say and taking feedback on-board.

The same goes for football.

When you’re playing, if a friend, your coach or even a family member points out something you’re not doing quite right, don’t be defensive. Look at what you’re doing, question whether it’s the best way and, if it’s not, work towards improving your technique.

Join a local league

Whether you’re interested in playing football professionally or not, joining a local league is a fantastic way to make sure you train regularly and, importantly, play regularly. After all, it’s all well and good being able to pull off the right moves in the comfort of your own back garden, but it’s very different being able to put it into practice on the pitch, when playing against another team.

Also, collaboration and communication are a considerable part of the game. Joining a local team will mean you have team mates you must work with to win the match. Being a team player and helping to keep up morale are all important skills for a footballer.

Study the game

Playing football isn’t just about the practical aspects of the game, it’s about strategy and tactics, too. It’s crucial that you live and breathe the game if you want to get better, which means reading about football, watching football, speaking to fellow players and discussing strategy.

You can then take what you learn and apply it on the pitch – knowing how and when to outwit your competitors is an essential part of the game and something you’ll be admired for if you can master it.

Mo Salah crafty movement

Set personal goals

If you’re looking for ways to get better at football, you must have an idea of where you want to get to. Therefore, make sure you set yourself goals and monitor your progress. That way, you can tell if you’re doing what you need to be doing or whether your training strategy needs tweaking.

Get a football coach

If you’re impatient and want to see rapid progression, you may want to consider getting a football coach. Although, joining a local league will give you just as much guidance without having to pay through the nose for one-to-one tuition.

Watch, and enjoy, the game

It’s important that you take time to enjoy the game when you’re not on the pitch. Attend football matches, see what the pros are doing, and have a great time with your friends and family. If you don’t love it, you won’t dedicate yourself to it, so it’s important you don’t let yourself get too worked up about training and remember to enjoy all the things you love about football.

Eat right

Eating right is just as important as exercise. Make sure you don’t consume too many calories or excess fats, but enough to keep your energy levels up.

After a football match or workout, eat protein to help repair your muscles. Also, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and avoid large quantities of carbohydrates.

Go to football camp

There are seasonal football camps around the country where you can go for a week or two to play football every day, learn new skills, get professional training and speak to mentors. They can be costly, but once you’ve been playing for a while it may be beneficial to escape your comfort zone and get feedback from someone that hasn’t seen you play before.

In summary

Being your best at football isn’t easy, but with plenty of practice you can certainly get nearer to your goals.

  • Study the game, take feedback on board and make sure you do the basics brilliantly.
  • Consider joining a local league and, if you want to get out of your comfort zone, head to a football camp.
  • All the while, make sure you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly outside of football.
  • Lastly, remember to watch and enjoy the game when you’re not playing it – that’s what it’s all about.

Take the game seriously but don’t forget to enjoy it too!

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