1. Technique

Football is often referred to as a universal language that is spoken globally. Technique is the vocabulary of football, and it’s the base from which all soccer players are created. Soccer technique can be split into 3 main areas, which must be mastered to be a top player.

  • Ball mastery & control – The ability to collect, control, and manipulate the ball with both feet, legs, chest & head.
  • Dribbling & running with the ball – moving the ball in different directions at varying speeds with the ball in full control.
  • Body movement & shapes – How you move your body efficiently with and without the ball to maximize impact with balance and coordination.

Just like learning a language, it does not happen overnight and will take years of learning with many hours of repetition. To be able to accomplish this is heavily dependent on the next soccer attribute.

  1. Mindset

Mindset is a very broad area with many contributing factors, so again this is broken down into smaller segments. It is a key ingredient in a footballer’s makeup and often determines which level you play at because the higher up the football ladder you progress, the more important the mindset becomes.

  • Passion & Drive – The ambition and hunger to succeed. Often it is said that you either have it, or you don’t. It’s that fire burning inside that comes to life on the football pitch.
  • Mental toughness – In times of adversity, how does a player react? There are many highs and lows in a football journey, and this trait often distinguishes those that can handle the pressure and make it to the top.
  • Leadership – This is measured in different ways. You have leaders who organize and are vocal like Virgil Vandyke or Sergio Ramos and lead by example like Sadio Mane or Lionel Messi. Either way will work, and it is a great asset to have.
  • Coachability – As a player, you need to be able to accept the feedback from coaches and teachers who are there to help you improve your game. How do players react or respond to instructions, criticism, and suggestions? Are they open to learning new things?
  • Self-Motivate – You hear stories about elite players staying back for extra training or spending hours upon hours mastering skills and techniques. This self-motivation to always want to better themselves by continuously learning and mastering can be a measure to the success of the player.
  • Responsibility – Football is a team game, but each player has a set of responsibilities both on and off the pitch. Does the player take ownership of these responsibilities and carry them out, or do they shy away?
  1. Game Intelligence

How often have you heard people saying words like “great vision,” “tactical awareness,” “footballing brain,” “composure on the ball.” These expressions constitute game intelligence and are probably one of the most difficult things to coach because football is random. You can’t predict the outcomes, and you can’t cater to every scenario created on the pitch.

To simplify, game intelligence is measured by the decisions and the speed at which a player on the pitch makes them.

  • Spatial Awareness – Players need to quickly visualize and understand the pictures created on the football pitch. Where are the players standing or moving, and what are the distances and spaces in relation to the ball? How quickly can you create these pictures to help you make a decision as to your next move?
  • Risk assessment – What happens if I run into this space or if I pass a ball into that space? Are you able to make the right decision that will positively impact your team and minimize the risk? Just as in life, previous experiences help you make these decisions, and football is no different. That is why you train and practice to help make those decisions, but added elements like creativity, logic, and taking a chance will give the edge.
  1. Team Player

Is it true there is no “I” in “TEAM”? Football is a team sport where you win together, and you lose together. There have been many occasions where you could say that one player above all others is the reason for a team’s success, such as Diego Maradona’s time at Napoli in the 1980s along with the recent successes of Ronaldo and Messi, but they all relied on their teammates to help bring that success, and they will all acknowledge that.

As a collective and harmonized unit, the team will generally perform much better so it is key for a player to be able to operate to their maximum ability within this environment. Saying that it can often be the individual that does something special in a game that raises the level of the team. It could be a superb bit of skill, a great goal, or a great tackle.

The effort you put in will generally rub off on others, so there is no excuse for not putting in 100% effort.

In football, the old saying, Together Everyone Achieves More, is very true, but the individual plays a big part too, and that balance must be found.

  1. Physique

This element is far more difficult to judge at a younger age because a soccer player’s body will develop at different stages, which could be behind or ahead of others. In the early years, a player’s physique should be one of the last factors to look at, but these are the areas to focus on when you do.

  • ABC’s – Agility, Balance & Coordination are vital because many movements happen in a soccer match. This is with and without a football as you dribble, jump, turn, and place your body into a variety of positions.
  • Power & Strength – This is not the individual’s size but is more about how effectively you use your body to win a physical battle.
  • Speed – This is not only straight-line speed, but it is the speed at which you accelerate, decelerate, and how quickly you can change directions with and without a football at your feet.
  • Stamina – As your body fatigues, your control, focus & decision making becomes impaired, which are all critical in a match situation. The ability for a player to deal with the constant stop, start nature, and endurance during a game to keep moving will be examined.

The journey to becoming a top soccer player will take many years, so it is important to recognize that these five soccer player attributes will develop at different stages of a player’s adolescence into adult life, but there is no doubt that all will be needed to be a top-level soccer player.

It’s also worth noting that all can be developed and worked on to improve players’ abilities and take their game to the next level.

Just remember:

  • Work your hardest!
  • Train as regularly as you can!
  • Always be learning!
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!
  • Dream Big!

MCSA has partnered with Techne Futbol so players can train-at-home and work on all of the above when not on the pitch. For more information, please reach out to your coaches or contact club admin, Ian Fitzpatrick, via email.