The 5 Traits That Make Up a Good Soccer Player

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Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. This is because it is a sport that anyone can play. All you need are a ball and some space, and you’re good to go. If anyone can play, what makes a good soccer player?

A good soccer player needs to have many skills if they want to be successful at the game. These skills include speed, agility, endurance, strength, and balance. A soccer player also needs to have good technical skills like dribbling and shooting in order for them to be able to do well on the field.

What Makes a Good Soccer Player

QualityImportance
Ball ControlHigh
DribblingMedium
StrenghtMedium
EnduranceEssential
Soccer IQHigh

Ball Technique

​While we will discuss a lot of other factors that are influential, on-the-ball skills are truly what separates the best soccer players from average ones.

Many soccer players possess natural gifts, such as speed or agility. Ball control and technique, though, is a combination of nature and nurture, meaning that you must practice ball technique to perfect it.

Pink soccer ball by a white soccer goal

​Ball Control

​Whether other players pass the ball to you or you are going after a loose ball, ball control is a crucial skill.

Ball control is a common skill that is actually needed in several sports and games. For example, if you play billiards, one of the ways to improve in a game of pool is by knowing how hard to hit the balls for each shot.

If a ball is being passed to you, being able to control it with a trap and letting it fall at your feet opens up opportunities for the next play.

Sometimes, you won’t be able to trap the ball and you will have to make a one-touch pass. This is much more difficult, and takes a lot of control over the ball.

When going after a loose ball, you’ll often have to be battling other players while working to gain control. You might have to pull the ball out of the air with your head or body, and might have to sprint down to the ball at the same time.

Ball control gives you the ability to make accurate passes and shots. As such, it is one of the most fundamental skills that any good soccer player can posses.

​Dribbling with Speed

​When dribbling, your on-the-ball technique is vital to maintaining control. All positions on the soccer field have to dribble, although some have to do it more than others.

As a defender, you probably won’t have to dribble very often, but when you do, it is vital you do it well. You’re often near or in front of your goal, and a mistake with your dribbling control could quickly result in a goal for the other team.

As a midfielder, you’ll be required to dribble in order to bring the ball upfield and create space. Without good dribbling skill sets, you can lose the ball to the other team or give them an opportunity to counterstrike. Be sure to equip yourself with the right midfield soccer cleats for the best performance.

As a forward, you’ll have to use your dribbling skills to get around opposing defenders and set up scoring opportunities. In all circumstances, you need to have good dribbling skills.

​Physical Fitness

​Being fit is extremely important for any level soccer player. The official game of soccer consists of a 90-minute game. You can expect to be on the field for most to all of this time.

With the average soccer player running 7 miles per game, physical fitness is essential to being good at soccer.

A man just did a flying kick trick with a white soccer ball

Not only should you be fit, a soccer player also should be strong, fast, and agile. Soccer requires proficiency in all of these aspects of fitness.

As you play soccer, you’ll need to be:

  • strong
  • fast
  • agile
  • fit

​Strength

​Unlike other sports where raw strength directly translates into skill, strength looks a little different on a soccer field.

Being able to stand strong and win the ball is important. Since soccer is a contact sport, a player needs to be strong. Strength also is important when taking shots or delivering a cross or long ball.

​Speed

​In soccer, you’ll find yourself in situations where you are racing against someone for a ball. You might have to catch up with a forward. You might even have to chase a ball before it goes across the line. Speed is extremely important.

While many good soccer players have played without incredible speed, running fast in some fashion is very important to excelling.

​Agility

​Speed also translates into agility, meaning you must be quick in the turn and quick on your feet. Being agile means changing directions quickly. It also means being agile enough to perform soccer movements like kicking the ball at top speed and performance.

While speed and agility aren’t the same, they often go hand in hand.

​Endurance

Endurance separates good players from the rest of the pack in the final minutes of a game. 15% of goals scored in soccer come in the final 10 minutes of the game, and much of this has to do with tired players faltering.

A group of soccer players in red jerseys practicig with the ball

Improving your overall fitness will really enhance your abilities on the soccer pitch.

​Mental Mindset

​Being strong mentally to play your best soccer doesn’t just mean lasting 90 minutes without having a mental breakdown. You also need certain mental components to climb the soccer ladder of success.

Although you don’t have to have these components, they do help you on and off the field:

​Ambition and Passion

​You can’t train or buy ambition or passion. The love for the game or your desire to be better should drive you to work hard and play even harder. Just look at inspiring soccer figures that are prominently featured in movies and who have earned the most caps in their career.

Much of what separates mediocre soccer players from great ones is their dedication and commitment. Extra practice sessions, additional fitness training, and film study are examples of what those with ambition do to become good at soccer.

A soccer player balances a soccer ball on his thigh in the middle of the field

​Mental Toughness

​Believe it or not, soccer is a mental sport, in addition to being a physical sport.

You’re going to have to be able to get through fitness tests. You’re going to have to help your team come back from a 0-2 score at halftime. You have to be mentally tough to be a soccer player.

​Coach-ability

​Coaches don’t want players with a bad attitude. Listening to your coach’s advice and feedback on your game will not only help your team but also help you improve.

Be humble. Being coachable also means listening to your coach when they tell you to take care of your gear and show up to practice and games with clean attire. If your shoes and shin guards get muddy during a practice, expect to clean them up before showing up on the field next time.

Striving to always get better ensures you never have a ceiling to your personal improvement. Learning from your coach and teammates will help you to always improve.

Man standing in the middle of a field with a soccer ball

​Team Player Mindset

​Seeking after personal accolades and success does not play well into being a team player. While there are certainly some personal components in becoming a good soccer player, putting the team first will serve you best in the long run.

The further you progress in soccer, the harder it is to achieve without the collective team involvement. With 11 players on each team, it is difficult to truly succeed without the collective help of a team.

With work, you can improve your mental mindset.

​Soccer IQ

​Soccer is a sport where you have to be able to understand the game and think for yourself. Even with the best training and coaching, much of the game is reactionary.

Some soccer IQ requires vision, tactical awareness, and composure and confidence on the ball. You can’t coach a player on soccer IQ – this comes from both experience and outside influence.

Some ways that a player can improve their Soccer IQ is by watching more soccer or getting hands-on (feet-on) experience on the field.

Girl in black jersey uses her head to hit the ball away from opponent in blue jersey
Source: protips.dickssportinggoods.com

Watching soccer as a student of the game can really open your eyes to different ways to play the game. You will learn new strategies and see different ways of playing the game, as well as gain an understanding of each of the positions in the soccer match.

In addition, nothing can beat game experience. The more you play soccer, the more you will develop an understanding of how plays develop and players move.

​Fair Play

​Soccer is a team sport so not only should you have a team-first mentality, you should also have respect for the other team. Emotions can run high, especially when there’s so much passion involved. However, playing soccer competitively requires the following attitudes:

  • discipline
  • focus
  • fair play

Fair play means keeping your words clean and your attitude respectable. Fair play means helping an opponent up after a foul. Fair play means not letting your emotions or passion get the best of you.

​Putting it All Together

​These five attributes easily cover what it takes to be a good soccer player. We all have different views and place different amounts of importance on one attribute over another. However, no matter how much one attribute is emphasized over another, each is still important.

Soccer match beneath a white light in the middle of the field

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about good soccer players.

What Mental Strengths Make a Good Soccer Player?

Discipline and constancy. An excellent soccer player should be disciplined and constant with his training. If not, improving would be very difficult.

On top of that, patience is key when it comes to seeing results. Improving your quality as a player doesn’t happen overnight.

How Much Sleep Should a Good Soccer Player Get?

Most soccer players should get around 8 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. This will help them rest their bodies and recover from the intense exercise they perform.

Do Good Players Lift Heavy Weights?

Although most soccer players won’t be bulky and muscular, they do lift weights. In order to gain strength, they train their muscles to improve techniques such as tackles, and man-to-man marking.

Conclusion

We hope that this article helps you get a better idea of what it takes to be a great soccer player. Not only should you have the training of these skills, you should also have the mindset to back it up.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.