How to stand out as a footballer
Football is the world's biggest sport and with so many people playing it from such a young age, the competition to make it as a professional is immense.
Regardless of age or ability, becoming a better footballer is something every player wants. The beauty of most sports is there's always room for improvement, no matter how good you may already be and football isn't an acception.
So how do you become a better footballer? Pre-season is the perfect time to try and ready yourself for the new season and making the most of this time could be what elevates you to becoming a better player.
1. Work hard and practice a lot. Focus completely on training to become a professional. You'll need to practice nearly every day, regardless of the weather. You'll also need to balance practice with your studies or even part-time work. It is the practice, the daily dedication, that will develop your talent and hone your skills.
If you're a parent of a child seeking to become a professional player, your own level of dedication must be enormous. You may need to transport your child to games, buy soccer gear and membership fees, talk with coaches, help with informal practice sessions, or boost your child's morale. You might even coach youth soccer.
2. Be patient. Accept that turning professional is a gradual process. You'll continue to learn, build your technical skills, learn soccer knowledge, make good contacts with other people.
Look for professional development programs and see how you can become a part of these. Ask your coach or club mentors for advice on what's available.
3. Assess yourself as a player. After you've played for a while, seriously look at your skills. Find out what position your innate skills are best suited to. When working this out, don't just think about yourself. Think about how your skills feed into your teamwork, and how your strengths fit into the game as a whole. It's important that you are exceptional at what you do because there is a lot of competition.
Seek your coach's honest opinion about your strengths and your chances. Learn from your coach's suggestions about possible ways to improve or hone your natural talent.
4. Strive to be the best in your level. If you're not, make an honest assessment about how you can improve your skills or if you need to shift to a different position. You should also be able to prove that you're good in games. Be consistently good and show that you can deliver every week, not just once in a while.
If you're the outstanding player of the week every week, you're on the right track.
5. Communicate. Soccer is a team sport and good communication is vital. Prove at all times that you are good at communicating. Use your manners, express yourself clearly, avoid unruly or angry behaviour on the field, and be a team-player.
A player who is too much of an individual player, or refuses to communicate properly, is a liability on a team and not likely to go far.
6. Get in shape. Your fitness levels matter in soccer. Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and avoid substances that can impair your performance, such as alcohol. Get enough sleep every night. It is also important to learn how to try to stay injury-free. Learn how to play well from the start and how to keep in good physical shape by stretching and exercising.