We get this question a lot - From all different types of parents and players from the DA level to recreational. For us, the answer lies within you, the player.
You need to ask yourself this to try to truly understand what you want to achieve:
What is my goal or dream when it comes to soccer?
If you're confused - answer this:
Do I just play for fun? Do I play because I want to compete in college? Do I want to play professionally?
Your answer is the reason for this topic. A lot of players seem to have the goal of becoming a collegiate or professional player. However, they don't know how much training it truly takes to just be prepared for the next level (It’s a LOT).
To give you a simplistic answer, in order to be “ready” to play at the collegiate or even professional level – you must train every day (especially for players over 11). It takes true dedication, with the correct training, the right exposure, and sometimes some luck.
At SIGNnow Sports, we've noticed that it takes hours upon hours of technical training using the correct technique with lots of repetitions to truly master the ball to unlock your potential. This type of training needs to take priority (especially between 7-14 years old) – this age range is the best developmental window for player growth.
As you age, you'll shift your focus and training to the tactical, mental and physical. However, without the technical, or ball mastery - the highest level is out of reach.
If you had to guess, how many hours do you think you have reached? Remember, hours going out and messing around, just shooting towards goal, or scrimmaging with friends does NOT count. The key to unlocking your potential? Training the right way with continued refinement of your skills and abilities (read our first blog post – How do I Unlock my Potential?).
If we look at any of the best players in the world including Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and Pogba - they were always training and playing to refine their craft in their youth. Now, in America, we have a bit of a different system and style unfortunately. This makes it more difficult for our youth players to be successful (bear with us for a minute).
Around the world, a lot of players train day in and day out on their own, with friends, playing street soccer or futsal (which promotes creativity - less rules and more freedom to express). However, in America this is atypical. Our youth players don’t often play street soccer and futsal is a relatively new to the US market. Another issue is that players often get distracted because of other sports like American football, baseball, basketball or hockey. Even other non-sports related activities draw attention. Around the world, football (soccer) is the national sport, thus almost everyone plays, follows and/or watches it (more on the differences between the United States and other nations in an upcoming post).
However, training every day, the right way, is vital to following your dreams. Of course, you must follow a strong system that allows you to fully develop your technical ability (connect with us on Facebook.com/SIGNnowSports, Instagram.com/SIGNnowSports or www.SIGNnowSports.com to learn how we can help).
SIGNnow Sports HIGHLY recommend ball mastery from the start. But remember, not every session will be physically demanding. To reach the highest level, technical development is paramount. This requires training almost every day (It Does NOT have to be physically demanding every session), especially in players 12 and older. The focus should be maximizing proper touches to help you understand how to manipulate the ball to your advantage.
Question: Do you have a favorite professional player in one of the top five leagues in the world (PL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, or Serie A)? We can practically guarantee that they are technically superior which allowed them to unlock their full potential to reach the highest level. They didn’t just show up one day and become a seasoned professional, doing what they love and making lots of money. No, they trained the right way and worked harder than everybody else.
Real life example: Coaches Kyle and Mitchell just recently returned from Lyon, France. There they got to work with, watch, learn and study Olympique Lyonnais's youth academy (which is recognized as a top organization for developing world class professionals). They watched all age groups from U9 to U19 train. They were, however, incredibly surprised at how well developed their U13s were. In France, at U13, they played 9v9 and played many games (in training) all 2 touch or less. Their game was based on attacking and expansive football: their rhythm was sharp, speed of play was incredibly fast, intricate passing with lots of combinations and zipped passes on the floor. They also required their goalkeepers to play from the back every time. Technically they were brilliant. But they were also well advanced tactically for U13. They were already adept at team shape but also understanding when and how to press. It was incredible to witness. That's football and it was coming from young players. An intricate game with many fine details.
Do you know why they were able to play at that tempo with such proficiency and success?
Those U13 players had been training day in and day out for years to develop and refine their technical ability. They had coaches with the knowledge and understanding of what it truly takes to develop complete players. They know that without technical ability – football that is intricate, exciting and dynamic IS NOT possible. They still incorporated some Ball Mastery into every training session. In America, you won’t find many clubs or organization with players that young with this level of technical and tactical proficiency. They simply aren’t being developed the right way.
It’s continuous refinement to achieve superior results.
This is why they (OL) have one of the best youth academies in the world.
The mindset, goals and system of the American soccer system is completely different than most of the other soccer powerhouse nations, such as Germany, France, Spain, Brazil and Argentina. Our players (typically) don’t get the same kind of professional opportunities while they give youth players frequent chances to break into the first team. Many make a professional debut in their teens (16, 17, 18, 19). Other countries have the goal of building complete players capable of playing at the professional level. America does not - not yet at least (more on this in another up-and-coming post). Now back to training...
You may have heard of the phrase:
It's the training when no one is watching that counts the most.
Why is this true?
Players who have the desire, motivation and drive to succeed will put in the work day in and day out, regardless of who is watching. They must use the proper training to increase their potential for success. We suggest always maximizing your touches to develop your game and keep it sharp. Once you have refined your craft and are able to perform at a high level, the time to up your exposure is critical (It is important to get feedback from top coaches who can help you understand what you need to improve to follow your dreams). You can start by connecting and training with our team and/or attending our Training Opportunities which have some of the best professionals in the industry testing and critiquing your skills. Some players might even get an opportunity for trial – like two players from our last Training Opportunity in Orlando.
Recommendation: Have you ever wonder where or how you can get an extra training?
We HIGHLY suggest Ball Mastery training immediately after school for 10-30 minutes. When you get home, grab a soccer ball and go outside in your yard and work on your technique and footwork and get as many “correct” touches as you can. It doesn’t require anything but a ball. As you progress, you can add extra materials like cones, ladders, etc. Just remember to focus on the right technique. As long as you do the right kind of technical training every day, you’ll see gradual improvement. The results will really start to show after a couple weeks. Your skills will improve and you will feel more confident. If you master the ball. You can unlock your potential. If you don’t know what exercises to begin with, you can find our introduction to Ball Mastery on YouTube.
If you’re struggling and not getting the results as quickly as you wanted…. Remember:
Nothing in life comes easy.
If you have questions, feel free to ask. We are more than happy to help.