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Currently, soccer is the most popular sport in the world. However, some countries still have a long way to go in terms of soccer awareness development. One of those countries is the USA.
As much as we like football and baseball, soccer is a sport that, inevitably, attracts the attention of children and adults across the nation. With millions of kids around the US starting to dream of becoming the next Messi, we need to switch gears and move onto a whole different sport we practically know nothing about.
To makes things easier for parents around the world whose children are striving to become the next soccer sensation, we’ve decided to write up a short guide on how to start playing soccer. This article will share some tips and tricks on how you can boost your chances of being successful in soccer. Enjoy the reading!
How to start playing soccer
If you want to learn how to play soccer, and you wish to achieve this goal quickly and effectively, you’ve come to the right place. What follows is the list of 10 simple steps that beginners can follow in order to start playing soccer as soon as possible and/or get better at it quickly:
1. Learn the basics
Understanding the fundamental rules of any new game is a must, so it should come as no surprise that this rule of thumb also applies to soccer. Before even hitting the field for the first time, make sure that the person that’s starting to play soccer is at least acquainted with the basic rules of the game.
This means that soccer beginners need to get a grip on what is allowed and what isn’t in a game, as well as grasp what each player on the field needs to do in order for the team to function in the best way possible. The beginners will need to learn what parts of their body can be in touch with the ball, when can they play the ball, and how to avoid getting caught offside, among other rules. Even though this isn’t the most fun aspect of the game, it is certainly one that can’t be skipped or glanced over.
Once you’ve got the handle on the basic rules, you can proceed to the next step in playing soccer:
2. Start practicing
Before jumping into their first soccer game or trying out for a team, soccer beginners need a lot of practice.
Becoming familiar and comfortable with the basic skills is something that can prove to be a ton of hard work, but it will be worth it in the end.
Developing proper technique and coordination with your body, the ball, the field, and your equipment is something that doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. It can take months, or even years, of practice to acquire the skills that are necessary to compete in any manner, even an amateur one. Beginner soccer players should focus their practice around the four basic soccer skills:
- Ball Control
3. Focus on developing one skill at a time
Even though running a practice session that involves passing, shooting, dribbling, and ball control might seem like a good idea at first, it can actually be counter-productive for new players’ development. Those who are new to soccer should avoid multitasking in a single practice session and focus on developing one skill at a time.
If you dedicate an hour of your time to dribbling, that hour is much better spent than if it was divided among four different soccer skills. A single practice session can involve multiple skills, but you need to ensure that you dedicate a section of the practice to each skill, rather than going in with no order or a plan.
While all of the skills listed previously are considered to be an essential element in every soccer player’s arsenal, ball control is the first thing new soccer players need to focus on. This is what new soccer players should invest most of their time and effort in, before moving on to other skills.
4. Improve your speed and overall fitness
In addition to developing ball-related skills, soccer players also need to build up their speed, strength, and overall physical fitness. This can be achieved on and off the field, depending on your preferences. For those who are young and new to the sport, running a sprint drill every other practice day should be more than enough to improve all of these characteristics.
For those who want to get a step above their competition, regular jogging and strength practice in the gym should become a regular thing, in addition to the soccer skill practice. Once you find the right balance between skill practice and this type of exercise, not only will this routine help you get stronger and faster in no time, it also helps prevent potential injuries on the field.
There’s one thing related to practice and fitness improvement that both newcomers and those who’ve spent years in soccer need to keep in mind. Read on to find out more:
5. Ensure that your body gets plenty of recovery time
Soccer players, and athletes in general, can get so focused on improving their body and their skills that they forget about one of the most important aspects of training:
Recovery periods between practices is what ensures that your body can get stronger and remain healthy. There’s no use pushing yourself every day with no break, as this behavior is a certain way to an injury that can end your soccer career before it even started. While training and general exercise are recommended for most of the week, our scheduling must allow for a day off every two to three days. During this period, our body recovers and recuperates for the upcoming period.
Recovery doesn’t necessarily mean a day off; new soccer players can use this time to take a look at the rules of soccer and get more familiar with them, or even follow soccer games on TV and analyze them from a critical point. This is also recommended for advanced players.
6. Join your neighborhood pickup games
Once you’ve got the hang of the basic rules and mechanics of soccer and you feel like you’re ready to play some games, it might be time to hit the soccer pitch closest to you. The chances are, there are some people out there looking for an extra player.
Pickup games are usually not played 11v11, which means you can run into them on almost every soccer field, even the ones right next to your house. Why are pickup soccer games so important? While learning about the game, putting in a ton of practice time, and replenishing your body are all necessary parts of getting better at soccer, there’s nothing that helps more than actually playing the game. Joining a friendly pickup game can be extremely beneficial to both beginner and advanced soccer players, as it forces you to adapt to new situations, with unfamiliar players and their playstyles.
Putting yourself out there and seeking these games can make you a more confident player, which can prove to be a crucial boost to your game when starting to play soccer.
7. Join a soccer team
Even though practicing on your own and playing friendly pickup games can be a lot of fun, it can’t be a replacement for the structure that joining a real soccer team can provide to a new player. Whether it’s your school’s or your city’s team, joining one should be on the list for every new soccer player.
Joining a team can have numerous benefits to the young players’ entire life. One of those benefits is teaching soccer and providing all of the necessary equipment, support, and guidance for developing their soccer skill and careers. Other benefits, that also come with sports other than soccer, include establishing a routine as well as a sense of purpose and belonging that are an essential element in leading a happy and productive life. Joining a soccer team can be an easy task, especially if the team has a recreational purpose. For some others, this might be a more complex process:
Some soccer teams might require tryouts, and this is the reason why this key element of starting to play soccer is ranked this far down the list; you will need to be ready and capable to hold your own on the field when the tryouts come.
8. Adapt and catch up to your teammates
After joining a new team, the work is just starting for new soccer players. Even though plenty of steps in this short guide can seemingly glance over, this is the time that skipping them will catch up with you. Seeing how their teammates perform on the field might be a wake-up call for some soccer players, while others might find it overwhelming and discouraging.
Beginner soccer players need to have one thing in mind: There’ll always be a better player somewhere out there. In some cases, there’ll even be 20 players on the field that seem to be better than you. However, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern, but rather a new challenge. Adapting to their teammates’ playstyle or catching up to their skill level is something that those who are starting to play soccer will inevitably have to do. It can prove to be a ton of work, but the reward of feeling capable and competent on the field is more than worth it.
Constantly being on a leveled playing field is not realistic in any sport. New soccer players need to acknowledge their own setbacks and work hard to remediate them.
9. Find a training partner
Developing your skills in a team environment is an excellent way to quickly get better at soccer, but if you want to start playing soccer seriously even faster, get a training partner:
With a help of a partner, soccer players are able to work on the things they find to be lacking. For example, a coach might not have the time to dedicate an entire practice session to your passing skill, while you can find a friend who lacks the same skill and dedicate days to improving it together. Training with a partner is also a great way to improve your other defensive and offensive abilities, as long as you choose someone who can challenge you. Finding a training partner who performs better than you is recommended to both beginners and professional soccer players.
Training with a partner is a great method of making your practice sessions more fun and effective, and it is certainly one of the methods that those new to soccer should utilize to their advantage.
10. Keep practicing
Even after you feel confident with the rules, the ball, and with your team and training partner, the practice must continue. Beginner soccer players tend to think that kicking the ball around is all it takes to be good at soccer, but this is far from the truth.
Continuously working on your skills is a must in soccer, especially if you’re considering it as a career. After mastering the basic skills, there’re always more advanced ones to work on. Practicing with your non-dominant foot and generally learning how to use the full potential of your body in a game is something that can take years to get a grasp on. Stick with it and you’ll be happy with all of the effort and time you’ve put into soccer, as it is one of the most rewarding sports out there.
Starting to play soccer might seem like an easy task at first, but, as evident from this list, it can be the opposite. Even after you think you’re ready to take on the world, there’s still a ton of practice to do. Remember, the best soccer players in the world didn’t get there because they just got lucky, they also kept putting in hours of work every day.
How long should I practice soccer a day?
While spending hours on the field kicking the ball aimlessly might seem like a fun way of spending your afternoon, in most cases it is counter-productive. Even an hour of planned and organized training is better than an entire afternoon of mindless running after the ball. In case you can’t prepare your own effective practices, you can take a quick look at the list above and follow the basics before moving on to the more advanced practice routines.
Being involved in soccer on a daily basis is a great recipe for success, just like with any other sport. Whether it’s learning something new about the rules behind the game, watching games on TV to gain some insight into how the stars do things, or actually practicing and honing a new skill, daily work is one of the best investments for your future. Invest an hour of your time every day into a planned soccer routine, and you’ll start noticing improvements in no time.
Is soccer easy to learn?
Just like any other sport, picking up soccer is not a hard thing to do. It can be done much easier than following the guide above: Get a ball, take it to a field, and have fun. However, some things are more rewarding when done the right way. After investing a little time and effort, soccer can become a source of an insane amount of fun, spread throughout the player’s life.
Soccer can be an excellent energy outlet that connects the players with their peers. The rules aren’t too complex, while the mechanics of the game can be learned by anyone in a matter of weeks. This is what makes it an excellent sport for children, as well as for adults who are looking to blow some steam. With a few hours of training every week, anyone can understand the game enough to have fun, while a more serious commitment to the sport is necessary for those who have higher ambitions.
How long does it take to get good at soccer?
Getting the grasp on the basics of soccer is something that occurs fairly quickly, and can be achieved in a matter of weeks. However, getting good at soccer is a long-term task that can take years to achieve. Typically, soccer beginners take at least a year or two to become good at the game. It should be kept in mind that soccer skill development, just like with any other sport, is a highly individual thing; some might take months to learn what others only need hours for.
For those who wish to make a career in soccer, learning the game is not enough; they need to master it. Experts suggest that three hours of daily practice is necessary to achieve this, over the course of a few years, depending on the player’s abilities.
The best way to become good at soccer is to fall in love with the sport. When there’s passion, there will also be the willingness to progress and master the game, and there’s no better motivation than that.