To succeed as a soccer player, you have to have an interesting and somewhat complex blend of traits. While soccer is an extremely active sport, requiring a high degree of fitness, you also have to be proficient with the ball. Beyond these areas, though, are several more, including your mental fortitude and team commitment. We go through the five most important traits that you need to be a good soccer player.
Qualities that Make Up a Good Soccer Player
Here are a few of the most important traits that make up a good soccer player:
1. Technique on the Ball
While there are so many different things that affect your soccer makeup, your technique on the ball is perhaps the most important. While we 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 in order to perfect it.
Whether the ball is passed to you or you are going after a loose ball, control is key in your technique.
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, but instead 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, giving them a quick, counter strike opportunity.
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.
2. Physical Fitness
Being fit is extremely important for any level soccer player. The official game of soccer consists of a 90-minute game. Depending what level you are playing at, you can expect to be on the field for most to all of the game.
With the average soccer player running 7 miles per game, physical fitness is essential to being good at soccer.
Not only should you be fit, a soccer player also should be strong, fast, and agile. The sport of soccer requires proficiency in all of these aspects of fitness.
As you play soccer, you’ll need to be strong, fast, agile, and fit.
Especially in soccer, being huge with strength doesn’t count much to the player’s advantage. 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 it is a contact sport, a player needs to be strong. Strength also is important when taking shots or delivering a cross or long ball.
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.
Plenty of good soccer players have played without incredible speed, but running fast in some fashion is very important to excelling.
Speed also translates into agility, meaning you need to 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.
Speed and agility aren’t the same, but often go hand in hand.
Being fit is the most important. If you can do everything above but are too tired to make the correct decisions, all of the training will be wasted. You have to be able to last 90 minutes long and perform well.
Endurance is what separates the 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 those that are tired faltering and those that are fit succeeding.
Improving your overall fitness will really enhance your abilities on the soccer pitch.
3. 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 to have 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.
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.
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.
Mental toughness might be more natural in some, but it can be learned and practiced.
Coaches don’t want players with a bad attitude. Listening to your coach’s feedback on your game will not only help your team but also help you improve. Be humble.
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.
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.
4. 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 really 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.
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.
5. 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 discipline, focus, and 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.
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.