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Soccer has become a fan favorite sport ever since its conception, some 500 years ago. The sport has obviously evolved since then, developing strict rules (ones that are open to change, as with any sport), but the passion of the fans remains the same. As it’s charmed so many people in the world, it’s only logical that everyone wants to play the sport, be it professionally or on an amateur level. So, the next logical question remains: how long does it take to get good at soccer?
To become good enough for the top professional level at soccer takes a literal lifetime, to get good enough for an amateur level takes far less, but still requires a lot of practice and physical above-average physical capabilities.
There are vast differences that must be taken into account when discussing skill-development, and it doesn’t matter what skill’s in question, it applies to soccer just as well. The sport system in which you’re developing, your general attitude towards the project, and proper development will all take a percentage of importance in becoming good at soccer. In this article, you’ll learn is it hard to learn to play soccer, how long does it take to get good at it, how many hours a day should you practice, and (for those that have witnessed a significant stagnation in their progress) why aren’t you getting better at soccer. Let’s get started!
Is It Hard To Learn Soccer?
To put it out plainly – yes. If you want to be truly good at it, then no sport is easy to master. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re aiming for professional levels or pinging the ball around the cage with your buddies, getting good at soccer is not easy.
Obviously, talent plays a massive role in this. Naturally talented people already possess a certain skill developed to a certain level – naturally talented soccer players are naturally good at soccer to a certain degree, and they also possess the natural instinct in self-development, when to try new things, how to do them, etc. That’s why a lot of players who play at the top level admit that they’ve learned to play on the streets before signing for a club and practicing under a coaching team. They already possessed the natural instinct that guided them through self-development and acquiring a professional contract and a coaching team only intensified that development.
Most soccer players have been spending hours upon hours a day playing soccer ever since they were kids. Some of them started their careers at academies under professional guidance, others developed in the streets, but the one thing they have in common is that it took them all a lot of hard work to get to where they are today.
When we’re talking about non-professional soccer, it takes far less practice and is mostly about a group of friends having fun. Still, it takes at least above-average levels of physical capabilities to be able to play soccer like this. No group of ten wants to have a single-player straining them. Being fit is the groundwork for all sports, everything else is based on that, so being fit (not perfectly, professional athlete levels are not required, but being excessively overweight or malnourished is most likely going to cause you problems in playing the game) is absolutely necessary if you want to progress your game.
Soccer skills (laymen may think this means fancy flicks and ball-juggling, but that’s just the cherry on top of the pie, reading the game, positioning, playing the right passes is far more important than playing with the ball) are developed through experience more than anything, and in order to develop them, more players need to play more and take criticism seriously, improving their game.
How Long Does It Take To Get Good At Soccer?
The players at the very top all started playing soccer very early in their lives (at the ages of 5 and 6), got recruited by an academy quickly, and were professionally developed from that point. Cristiano Ronaldo is a prime example of never-ending development, as he’s still learning new skills in his mid-30s (an age when most soccer players would retire a decade or two ago), keeping his body in top shape and changing the known limitations of how old a footballer can be when performing at the top level.
Leo Messi, on the other hand, is a naturally talented player; displaying massive amounts of talent at a very early age (unlike Ronaldo who barely got recruited to Sporting’s academy). Messi was sent from Argentina to Barcelona at the age of 13 and broke through in the first team when he was 16, quickly becoming a regular starter. The story is wildly similar to Ronaldo, but he moved to Manchester United. Taking the two greatest players of our time as examples; it takes about 10 years (but likely a bit more) to become good enough to be considered a starter for the first team.
Naturally, becoming good at lower levels is considerably easier, especially in non-professional leagues. If you’re looking just for playing soccer casually, then playing it like that is exactly what you need and shouldn’t take more than a year to get good enough to play regularly. Most people who play soccer like this have been playing it since early childhood, learning the ropes naturally and quickly. If you’ve never played soccer in your life and want to play with people that have, then it’s going to be very difficult to integrate in that kind of team.
How Many Hours a Day Should You Practice Soccer?
When practicing soccer, it’s important to include three equally important aspects of the sport; physical preparation, ball skills, and off-the-ball skills. It’d be ideal to practice for at least three hours a day if you wanted to play it professionally, but if you’re just looking for casual playing then less than that is acceptable.
At least an hour, if not more, of your practice on a field, should be focusing on physical development; especially speed, stamina, and jumping. Physical strength, although a massively useful tool in the game, is far less important than speed. Soccer players have evolved with the times and a lot of them are strong, as well as pacey, but you should still aim to be able to run quickly for ninety minutes, rather than being able to wrestle a bull.
Ball skills such as dribbling, passing (both short and long), finishing, heading, ball control, etc., are crucial for any player worth their salt. No player is good at everything, but developing ball skills is something that makes a good player. It takes a lot of practice and literally years just to get good at it. Also, most of these exercises require a partner or a team of players to perfect, that’s why joining a team and working under a coach might be a good idea.
Off-the-ball skills like vision (noticing players’ movements and knowing when, where and to whom should you send the pass), attack positioning (making runs and knowing where to place yourself to get the ball), tackling, slide-tackling, man-marking, aggression, interceptions, etc., are skills that require a team to practice. These skills are equally important as ball skills and no player (especially midfielders) is complete without it.
Why Am I Not Getting Better at Soccer?
The reason you might be having issues with development is missing a coach. Training in a team presents vast positive differences when compared to training alone. Most teams have a coaching staff with decades of experience who get paid to develop your skills. It’s much easier for someone who will see the situation objectively (and assess it as such) to make the necessary augmentations for your exercises.
It’s important to persevere and stay persistent. No one ever became good at anything by quitting, and keeping your head down, listening to your coaches and relying on their experience and profession will without a doubt lead to development.
Receiving constructive criticism is key to any sort of development; someone who knows more than you telling you what you need to fix in order to get better is crucial. It shouldn’t be considered offensive as the coaches are always looking out for your best interests and just want to see you succeed. If you disagree about something, then you should talk to them and persuade them into giving you a chance to prove yourself.
The lastly important thing is noticing when your coaching system is not working out. There are a lot of people at a lot of clubs who aren’t good at their jobs, but keep their positions based on seniority. That means that there are a lot of coaches out there who aren’t good at coaching, or are simply obsolete, but refuse to step down and can’t help players develop. It’s important to recognize these situations and leave that sort of academy.