We all love the thrill of watching soccer, and some of us may even like to play ourselves. But what does it take to become a true professional out there on the field? Roughly 90 minutes long, professional soccer games comprise of players walking, jogging, and sprinting non-stop up and down the field (totalling over five miles by some estimates). Going from amateur to professional requires hours of training to build skill and endurance, as well as proper muscle recovery to ensure you stay at the top of your game.
Mastering ball control
Ball control is one of the most important elements of soccer — you must become a pro at dominating the ball and quickly deciding your next move without losing the ball to an opponent. Spend time juggling the ball — become familiar with the firing patterns in your legs as well as the balance and touch required to stay in control of the ball. Professionals spend hours each day working on ball handling to develop and maintain muscle memory. When playing a match, you’ll be better able to take action quickly without needing to stop and think, which gives you an edge on the field.
Training at home
Dedicate your spare time at home to building up your fitness and endurance. Using exercise bikes like the ones listed here can help strengthen the quads and hamstring muscles. Training on an exercise bike will boost your aerobic fitness, speed, and power — all making it easier to walk, jog, sprint, tackle, jump, and fight for position. Similarly, using a rowing machine will give you a great low-impact total body workout. Rowing machines strengthen your major muscle groups — you’ll work 80% of your muscle mass in a single stroke. Rowing machines will also improve your midline stability and posture, which allows you to be a more efficient player with less fatigue and strain on your body’s ligaments and muscles.
Myofascial release is important for releasing pain and tension in the body, so you can continue training safely without injury. It involves applying sustained, gentle pressure to the myofascial tissue in order to undo painful muscle knots, improve muscle function, and restore flexibility and suppleness to your body. You can do this at home with a foam roller, massage stick, or even a softball — simply roll them over any tight or painful areas on your body until they relax. Myofascial release also boosts the immune system by stimulating the lymph system, therefore resulting in improved performance and faster recovery.
Working with a certified personal trainer is also essential if you want to up your soccer performance. They’ll create a personalized training program that ensures you train both hard and smart. Additionally, you may also find it useful to train with other players since it creates a competitive and motivating environment. Most importantly, working with a trainer and other players will keep you accountable, so you continue to become the best soccer player you can be.