Playing soccer requires a certain level of skills to master.
While players have to improve many aspects of their game, 3 are the basic skills that every good soccer player has to improve in order distinguish himself from the others. Those 3 skills are:
- First Touch Under Pressure.
- Pass Masters.
- Ability to Improvise.
1# First Touch Under Pressure
Having a good first touch is fine, but meaningless if you can’t do it under pressure. For example, if you’re kicking the ball around with some friends and each time someone passes the ball your way and you can confidently control it, that’s great. The take away here is you have the fundamental know-how to effectively trap the ball while still standing over it.
Now, if you’re playing in a 90-minute game your first-touch isn’t always as simple as stopping the ball and making a pass. As you’ll soon find out if you don’t know already is stopping the ball is highly detrimental to your success of making a pass or advancing down the pitch.
The best players not only know how to control the ball but they can use their first touch to put the ball in a advantageous position to keep themselves between the ball and the defender. A great first touch is one that doesn’t slow down the flow of the game and keeps the opposing team on the back-heel.
#2 Pass Masters
At the end of the day the ball moves faster than the player. You may be the fastest, strongest player on the field but soccer is a team sport and without a solid passing foundation you won’t make it far.
The best players can use their vision to accurately time a pass by air or ground. A good pass requires timing and a good understanding of your teammate. The take away here is that having a good pass is not enough. You need to understand how your team plays as well and adjust accordingly.
The best example of passing comes from Barcelona’s tiki taka style of passing. The play is so intricate and complex that it leaves teams frustrated, draws them out of position and makes the likelihood of a goal look almost inevitable.
Tiki taka is by no means an easy task. It requires an in-depth understanding of your teammates and lots of movement off the ball. What actually draws the players out of position isn’t the passing itself but the movement off the ball. A lot easier said than done but when performed correctly you can dominate your team in possession.
#3 The Ability to Improvise
Sounds simple enough right? What separates the good from the great is the ability to improvise in the tightest of situations. This of course can only be accomplished through years of experience in games and practice.
The best soccer players can create something out of nothing and put a hopeless pass into the back of the net. We’ve seen this time and time again in top leagues around the world. Besides Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez. They’re are plenty of talented soccer players who also have this inept ability.
What would you do when your teammate passes you the ball and 3 defenders rush to triple-team you? Pass? Accept you’ll lose the ball? Or will you find a way out? That right there is the difference between a good and great player.
Unfortunately, this is a skill that can’t be taught. It’s reflexes, instincts and just about anything else that comes natural over time. Of course there are skill moves you can learn but knowing when to use them is key.
In closing, there are a lot of other aspects that separate a good player from a great player. Shooting ability, cuts and turns, speed and attitude. We feel these are core to the principles of what makes a good player great.
If you have any other thoughts, feel free to share them in the comment section below.