The thought of becoming a soccer player has at one point crossed the minds of several fans.
However, only a small fraction of dreamers get to achieve the heights of a professional player.
Becoming a star soccer player takes passion, innate talent and skills, lengthy hours of training and the ability to adapt. If you envision walking onto Wembley Stadium packed with cheering fans, there’s a lot that stands in your way.
Fortunately, there are many star players, which is testimony that you can do it. If you want to learn how to become a professional soccer player, below are tips and insights that will inform your journey.
Passion and Drive
If you want to become a star soccer player, then you need to start playing for fun rather than remuneration.
You have to really love soccer and have a burning passion that will get you onto the pitch even on those chilly weekends.
Playing at the professional level should matter to you more than anything else including getting paid. This way, it will be easier to deal with the challenges, pressures and disappointments that await your journey towards stardom. It is not always going to be easy.
Some days you will feel like giving up and without true love for soccer, you will either be very unhappy or simply frustrated when things do not move as fast.
Recovery from failures and positions of peril also require a great amount of strength, motivation and dedication. This is why it is important to have deep running passion and inner drive.
If you are going to learn how to become a professional soccer player, then everything in your life should be optimized to enable this process.
Your body in particular must be in good shape for maximum performance on the pitch. Skills and abilities can be horned through on-pitch training.
Having the stamina to provide consistent performances on the other hand is largely influenced by your off-pitch endeavors. This implies you have to go to the gym, train regularly, eat a balanced diet and train your mind for efficiency.
It is recommendable to take up strength and physical conditioning program that will ensure your body is up for the task.
Good conditioning will reduce your likelihood of picking up injuries and drastically increase your recovery from the same. Moreover, it provides more time for training horning your skills.
Train Hard and Smart
It goes without saying that training is an integral part of mastering any set of skills. Studies in soccer indicate you may have to train for up to 10,000 hours if you want to become a professional player.
Other studies suggest a more holistic approach that gives you the freedom of expression. Essentially, all soccer players must spend several hours practicing their skills, learning new things and improving their weak points.
Even the likes of Lionel Messy who are recognized for incredible innately born talent still take training very seriously. To become a star soccer player, you must keep on training and practicing until the day you quit.
It never stops as long as you are expected to show up in the field and deliver admirable performance. However, training hard is only one part of the equation. You should train smart.
This means following the coach’s instructions during group training, finding time to improve specific skills and practicing on your own.
Goal setting is an invaluable way of monitoring your progress. Studies have shown that setting small achievable goals can drastically improve your performance on the pitch.
Under the grand goal of becoming a professional soccer player, you should have smaller goals that will improve specific aspects of your act.
This can be anything from avoiding being booked for 3-5 consecutive games, to saving 70% of the penalties or appearing in the list of top scorers for the season.
You goals, while achievable, should be challenging in order to improve your overall abilities on the pitch.
You can find in-depth guides that will teach you how to set goals for your long journey to the top level.
Essentially, goal-setting provides a way to check your performance, identify areas for improvement and draft a better training plan.
No one is strange to sweaty palms, heavy sighs and jelly legs. Performing at the top level comes with a lot of pressure and even the very best can get nervous.
Putting 10,000 hours into training is a good thing. However, it will be difficult to translate this into solid on-pitch performances when all eyes are on you especially if you lack self-confidence.
It has been said that most of the soccer success in the player’s mind and self confidence is basically the ability to deliver when it is most required.
For a goalkeeper, it could be saving that decisive penalty or keeping your team from conceding even when the opposition is clearly running havoc on your side of the pitch.
For a striker, it could be the composure to go round a defender and score one for the team.
With social media trolls waiting for the slightest flop and thousands of roaring fans (including opposition) screaming at every other mistake, maintaining your cool can be overwhelming.
You can always use your coach to build confidence. Goal setting can also hand you a boost in confidence when you get through a milestone.
Adapt and Improve your Game
After doing all of the above, it may be tempting to take a rest and enjoy your achievements. However, you should note that the very best soccer players never rest on their success.
Instead, they are always adapting their game, learning new skills and setting new objectives to achieve even greater success. As aforementioned, learning how to become a professional soccer player has no end until you finally quit.
Even when at the top level, you will always find areas that can be improved. The best way to adapt is through having frank audits of your performance.
Learn to accept positive criticism from your coaches and the soccer world. Do you need to work on your one-footed performance? Maybe your first touch on the ball could do with a little improvement or you need a new dribbling skill that will get around that final defender.
No single player has all the skill so there’s always something to learn. Take videos of your performance and watch them during your free time to identify areas for improvement and learn the game from your idols.
What are they doing different that has that great impact on their gaming? What is their strategy towards training and how do they cope with all the pressures.
Establish a Better Recovery and Recuperation Plan
As aforementioned, body conditioning is an important part of becoming a pro soccer player. Over the last few decades, there have been massive improvements in training, diet and nutrition.
Good conditioning does not only improve your prospects on the pitch, but also make it easier to recover after the tough matches.
It is worth noting that the less time you spend recovering from injuries and weary legs, the more time you have to prepare for the next game.
Without proper recovery in-between matches, your performance will suffer over time and this can be detrimental to the overall success. Professional soccer players know that the body needs enough rest, recovery, nutrition and training to deliver consistent performance every time.
To avoid burning out, ensure you eat and drink well, get adequate sleep and ease back into the vigorous physical activity. In addition to diet and sleep, ensure your mind recovers well.
Never take disappointments from the last game to heart. Rather, analyze your performances and learn from your mistakes to improve your next act.
Learn the Game’s Tactics
A lot goes into practice and sharpening soccer skills. However, skills alone will not catapult you into stardom unless you really understand the workings of soccer.
There are situations that need tactical knowledge of the game to rise from the ground and win a match. Learn from your coach and take a tactical perspective when watching soccer matches.
Besides knowing your position at all times, it is important to understand your team’s strategy and what your opponent is doing on the pitch.
This is what separates world class players from the rest. Learning the game from a tactical assistant’s angle will increase both intelligence and anticipation.
These are what scouts look for when analyzing performance. It is therefore very important to watch as many matches as possible, first your idol’s act and then your own.
Comparing the two will help you lean what areas need improvement and how to sum up a match so you can make the best decisions.
Get the Best Equipment you Can
This may seem oddly counterintuitive considering all the other points mentioned above. However, having the best soccer kit will improve your overall game.
It will not suddenly give you the skills needed to dribble past every opponent, but even that 1% boost in confidence is very important when playing soccer.
Get new comfortable kits that will allow you to give your best on the pitch. If you can afford it, buy the industry best. Having the right boot size and style for your feet is just as important as anything else.
Train with the best equipment and you will be able to harness your full potential. Once you know what you can achieve with the best, it becomes easier to try and emulate the top level performance even in the worst condition.
Take a Video of Your Act and Post It
We live in the modern age and thanks to the internet, a killer promo video can today thrust your fame to the next level.
To become a star player, you will need a platform where millions of people can watch your act. These days, platforms like YouTube can help you develop interest by simply uploading videos that best illustrate your skills on the pitch.
There are many soccer players who were first noticed from their promo videos and then scouts were sent to watch them play for their teams.
Even the world best soccer player, Lionel Messy, was discovered by his agent through a video.
While this was not created by Messy himself, it goes without saying that promo videos can put your skills out there for the rest of the world to see.
If you have followed all the steps listed above, your performance will definitely be worth watching.
Believe in Yourself
You must always believe in yourself to succeed at anything. Otherwise, there is no way you will reach your full potential.
In soccer, criticism will come from all angles. Your coach, your team mates and online trolls will say you are not good enough or do not have what it takes to become a great soccer player.
How you rise from all the negativity you face will all depend on self-belief. You can comfort yourself by looking at the journey some of the most successful players and how far they have come.
If they were able to achieve success in soccer, so can you. However, you have to first believe that you can do it and then combine this with hard work and persistence.
Nail the Trial Performance
After training and working so hard for many years, your judgment may only be a few minutes on the pitch.
Trial performances can help push you up one more step, but only if you deliver. Instead of worrying about your performance, think about everything you have learnt and do the very best you can.
Do not play for the occasion or focus on the pressure that comes with trial. It is only a brief window to flaunt and account for your football skills. The best thing to do is play your game.
Becoming a professional soccer player is indeed a long journey with numerous challenges and not many people see it through to the final stage.
Even after everything, you need to be very patient and wait for your time to shine. You may finally join the team of your dreams, but then spend a couple of years sidelined on the bench.
Injuries may put you down for several months and significantly affect your performance. However, you will find a way to ascend all milestones provided you love soccer and have a determination to become the best player you can be.
Do not give up on the first attempt. Keep trying, training, assessing your performance and improving until you are finally comfortable on the pitch.
After all, the world has some great soccer players and nothing makes them any special than you are. If anything, you have the chance to set new heights and records.
Hopefully, you have enough information to help you start learning how to become a professional soccer player. Obviously there are other aspects that involve agents and contracts, but are only worth looking into after improving your on-pitch performance.