Practice Soccer Like You Play a Game

Run hard at practice! - (Photo:

In trying to understand how professional soccer star become so great, many people have surmised that talent alone does not lead to success.  What results in soccer players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Gareth Bale is deliberate practice.  It’s not enough to just head outside with a soccer ball and kick it against the garage door for 20 minutes a day.  A true mastermind of the game practices like they play, with a dedication and intensity that pushes them to the next level, no matter where they are at during the present.

Most young soccer players bring their “A-game” to actual matches.  With the soccer jersey on and with parents and friends (and perhaps even college scouts) watching, a player will surely put in the extra effort needed to make plays and go for the win.  But while such heart and strive is wonderful, the best players give their all even in practice, when the score doesn’t really matter.

By consistently playing with dedication and desire, you will really understand what the “passion” of soccer is.  Professional soccer players become one with the ball and know how to control its every move.  When there is a supreme focus during practice, a player is improving their relationship with the ball and learning how to best play the game.

The transition to playing an actual game therefore becomes natural.  Likewise, a young soccer player will begin to see large strides in their abilities and skills.  Contrast this with a player who lazily goes through the motions at soccer practice.  Such a player doesn’t really improve because they are saving it all for “the big game”.  In actuality though, that player will never make it to a real big game because they will never reach the skill level required because of a lack of persistence.

Soccer practice is actually the best time to give it your all.  Because practice doesn’t “mean” anything, players can try out new moves and see what types of plays work.  With little pressure about winning or impressing the scout, a soccer player can truly develop.  The games are where you showcase your skills.  The practices are where those skills are learned.

Another reason to take soccer practice seriously is for all the time that a player will spend practicing.  Most soccer teams will play one or two games a week.  However, the days spent practicing are probably three or four.  Likewise, each practice involves way more time on the ball than any particular game.  Therefore, practice is where players spend most of their time with the soccer ball at their feet.  Use this time wisely.  Yes, the thrill of a victory isn’t quite as strong as it is in an actual game, but you must understand its overall importance in improving your skills.  By practicing hard, you will be better prepared for those eventual moments where you do have the opportunity to win a game.  Practice truly does make perfect, so next time you head out to an evening practice, instead of lazily loafing around the field show some intensity and work hard to improve.  This is your time!


  • You have to love soccer as much as you love any game if you want to give it your all. When it becomes a job or a chore you’re going to lose some of that passion and fire.

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