7 Tips to Become a Better Soccer Player

Becoming a better soccer player is entirely in your hands. It’s about what you do on your own and in training to improve that sets you apart from others. How can you get better at soccer to help you and your team?

Become a better soccer player by getting into shape, practicing juggling, training daily, even if it’s just a little bit, warming up and cooling down properly, training your goal-scoring technique, setting goals for yourself, and watching soccer on television.

All of these helpful tips can be done alone or with a team. Weave them into your training regimen and work at them over time to become a better player.

7 tips to become a better soccer player

Becoming a better soccer player for yourself and your team takes a lot of commitment. Here are seven tips to improve as a player:

  • Get into soccer shape
  • Practice juggling
  • Become one with your soccer ball
  • Warm up, cool down, and stretch
  • Practice scoring and finishing
  • Come up with goals
  • Watch soccer on television or online

Get into soccer shape

Getting into shape is one thing, but getting into soccer shape is another. One way to get into soccer shape is through physical soccer training. H.I.I.T., or high-intensity interval training, is a valuable physical training tool for soccer players.

H.I.I.T. workouts use a series of stop-and-go anaerobic exercises that emulate the short sprints and slower jogs soccer players perform during games and therefore are an appropriate way to get into soccer shape. Combining H.I.I.T. workouts with on or off-the-ball soccer drills will get you into soccer shape while sharpening your soccer abilities.

Practice juggling (yes, it does help)

Juggling isn’t just a fancy way to show off your soccer skills; it’s a helpful drill to become a better soccer player. Juggling improves your first touch and overall ball control. Practice juggling yourself or do it with a partner to simulate game-like scenarios where you pass and receive the ball in the air.

It’s also useful when you’re short on time and can only get in a quick training session. You don’t need a ton of space, either.

Even more so, you can practice juggling on asphalt—one of the few times you’ll hear me say training on hard surfaces is okay!

Become one with your soccer ball

The best way to improve your technical ability is to practice daily. All types of soccer training are necessary to get better. You can even train in the comfort of your home.

When I say “become one with your soccer ball,” I mean keeping a ball by your side whenever you can.

Don’t have time for proper soccer practice? Dribble a ball around your backyard, basement, living room, or bedroom. Use a regular-sized or mini ball, whichever works best for your space.

I like to keep a mini soccer ball by my desk when I work to keep my skills sharp; sometimes, some of my breaks consist of dribbling around my office or stepping outside for five minutes to get a few touches on the ball.

Warm up, cool down, and stretch

You can do these things to gradually become better at soccer and prevent yourself from being sidelined due to injuries. Warm up before games to ensure your muscles are primed for an intense workout. This mitigates soreness and reduces the chance of injury.

Cooldowns let your body know it’s time to rest and that your workout is finished. They’re equally as important as warming up. After training or a match, cool down with a slow-paced jog, and light dynamic and static stretching to minimize soreness and reduce the likelihood of injuries.

Practice scoring and finishing

No matter your position, you should practice finishing and shooting on goal during training. You must be able to put the ball in the net if the opportunity presents itself during a game. Strikers and other attacking positions should practice this especially.

Likewise, midfielders should take long shots during training here and there. Practice shooting from far out, beyond the 18-yard box, to test your ranged goal-scoring abilities.

As for defenders, your scoring chances likely come from set pieces and corner kicks. Practice heading the ball downward with power to score more goals and become a better overall player for your team.

Write down and commit to developmental goals

Write down goals that will help you improve yourself and your team. Consider aspects of your game and ability that you think could use improvement, and create plans for yourself targeting those aspects.

Ask your coach what they think you can improve on. Chances are, they’ll have something you can work on, and, as a bonus, they’ll be glad you’re showing interest in improving.

Start working toward your goals by incorporating them into team or individual training sessions.

Make sure you set clear goals. One way to ensure your goals are clear is to use the S.M.A.R.T. method.

A quick word on goal-setting for soccer:

Setting goals is challenging in itself. Reaching personal and developmental goals, however tricky, means you’ve improved, giving us a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.

Make goal-setting easy on yourself by using the S.M.A.R.T. method.

S.M.A.R.T. goals take away ambiguity and add practicality and efficiency to goals. The acronym stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Ask yourself if your goal meets these requirements before setting it. Is it S.M.A.R.T.?

For us soccer players, this means setting soccer-specific goals qualified by these five measurements.

Here’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal example for improving your weak foot in soccer.

The overall goal would be to use only your weak, non-dominant foot, for an entire week of training.

Is it…Answer
Specific?Yes. Use your weak foot for an entire week of training.
Measurable?Yes. Keep track of how many times you touch the ball with your weak foot or the amount of time you spend on training.
Achievable?Yes. Force yourself to use your weak foot, no matter the quality.
Relevant?Yes. It’s important to be able to use both feet in soccer to increase your quality of play in different situations.
Timely?Yes. Designate a week or two where you only use your weak foot during training.
A table showcasing an example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal on training your weak foot in soccer.

Watch soccer on television or online

Watching soccer on television or online is one of the most effective ways to become a better player. You can learn so much from analyzing the best of the best; take notes on how high-level players defend, attack, position themselves, and move during games.

I recommend watching European leagues if you can, as these leagues comprise the best players in the world. Watch entire games to understand the bigger picture, or watch specific players to learn more about your position.

Watch players like Karim Benzema to learn how to effectively play the number nine or striker role. Likewise, watch defenders like Virgil van Dijk to improve in the center-back position.

Here’s a quick four-minute video analyzing Benzema’s playstyle.

A YouTube video analyzing Karim Benzema playing soccer.

Sean Tinney

I’m Sean Tinney, a lifetime soccer player and Ball At Your Feet owner. This website is a hub for practical soccer advice, information, and insights from one player to another.

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