How to Get Better at Soccer (22 Secrets Nobody Told You Before)
If Martians came to Earth one day and made a report on our planet, I don’t doubt that they would think soccer is our main sport.
Hell, I would go as far as to suggest they probably kicked a soccer ball before and even held their own Mars World Cup too.
There’s a good chance you have played or tried this sport at least once in your life, therefore I know you will find this article helpful…because it helped me, against all odds.
So, whether you’re a seasoned player looking to refine your skills or a newcomer eager to learn the essential skills to get better at soccer, fasten your seatbelts, or more appropriately, lace your shoes, take out your soccer ball, and let’s get better.
How to get better at soccer?
My knowledge comes from experience, spending time learning what actually works or not, testing countless products that help you improve, and discussions with a soccer coach.
If you are a well-determined athlete who KNOWS that personal development is key to improving at soccer, then you’ve just hit gold in that article!
My tips will explore what you can do on the soccer field as well as beyond. They cover:
- Physical exercises
- Mental exercises
- Decisions that will give you an advantage over your competition
If you purchase through our partner links, we get paid for the referral at no additional cost to you! For more information, visit my disclaimer page.
1. Work On Your First Touch
First touch is by far the most essential soccer skill.
The differences between a professional soccer player and an amateur are numerous, but the most important one is his ball control.
A good first touch enables you to receive passes with precision and to set up your next move. This control is fundamental in maintaining possession, especially in tight spaces or under pressure from opponents.
In other words, it enables you to become a smooth operator (🎶).
A touch in the space away from the opposing player can free you and impress everyone watching, whether it’s your coach, teammates, or who knows…maybe Pep Guardiola is watching!
A good first touch also contributes to improving your confidence on the field.
Knowing that you can receive a ball cleanly, even under challenging circumstances, instills a sense of assurance that is invaluable and lets you showcase your other soccer skills.
So if you wonder how to get better at soccer, then start working on your first touch.
Ray’s advice: Start improving your touch by juggling. This is the best way to improve it, and it helped me tremendously. Add variations and juggle with all parts of the foot. Then you can move on to receiving-the-ball exercises from a wall, rebounder, or a friend.
2. Focus On Becoming A Better Dribbler
Many soccer players might think that dribbling is for wingers or attackers, but it is not true. Even more so in modern soccer, where there is pressure on every player of every position to be comfortable on the ball.
Becoming good a dribbling can improve your confidence on the ball, which will impact all other aspects indirectly such as passing and even your first touch.
Combine good dribbling skills with speed and physical power, and you will be a very dangerous player.
Being a good dribbler can get you to be more comfortable on the ball in general, a trait that professional soccer players all have. If you look a great players like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, or Neymar, you can deduce that they all are great dribblers.
The positive thing about improving your dribbling is that you can practice it alone. You don’t need a teammate or a training partner.
3. Improve Your Footwork
Your footwork is necessary in order to be comfortable on the ball.
Another word for it is ball mastery, which means mastering the ball at your feet, at any part of the foot.
Improving your footwork gets you better at dribbling, improves your touches, and raises your overall confidence while playing.
4. Improve Your Finishing
Finishing falls in the basic skills to be a good soccer player but is also extremely crucial.
The objective of soccer is to score in the opposite goal. That we all know. But finishing comes in many shapes and forms, and chances can arise from anywhere such as free kicks, corners, penalties, and many more.
This is why you should improve your finishing.
And when I say that finishing is important, I mean it for every player on the field. Defenders too should be able to finish a chance.
- Inside foot
If you could master this skill. then without a doubt, you will improve your chances of becoming a better soccer player.
5. Consider Playing Futsal
Futsal is where most professional players started their career, and how they gathered all their skills, and this is where you will start yours…
If you are new to the soccer world, chances are you might be wondering what is futsal.
Futsal (Indoor Soccer) is a sport played on a hard court surface. It’s a 5v5, unlimited subs sport where the soccer is more intense and skill-based.
This means you have no choice but to have the perfect ball control and comfort. The margin of error is way lower in futsal, and it is physically demanding.
Futsal is a great way to get better at soccer, and it happens to be a lot of fun too. So, grab your futsal shoes and go kick some ass.
6. Spend Time Perfecting Your Dominant Foot
Although the majority will tell you to focus on improving your weak foot, and they are not wrong, I will tell you to enhance your strong foot first.
In soccer, players want to take the ball away from you and put you through difficult situations to get it. In all this mess, you need a reliable weapon, and what better than your dominant foot?
Think about it…your strong foot dictates how good at soccer you are: all your passes, touches, finishing skills, and even long balls will be executed with this foot.
If you have the option, you will always choose your dominant foot, so don’t waste time and start designing exercises for that to start practicing.
Your weak foot gives you range and should be trained too.
However, you should always focus on your strengths before your weaknesses to be a better soccer player.
What good is it to have two mediocre feet in soccer? I would much rather have one reliable!
So whether it is your right foot or your left foot, your next soccer practice should be based on that to become better at soccer.
7. Work On Your Weak Foot (i.e. Your Non-Dominant Foot)
Now that your strong foot is reliable enough, you can shift your focus to your other foot.
As previously mentioned, a good weak foot gives you range. Using more than one foot can give you a great advantage, and eventually help you get better at soccer.
Imagine on game day, you are an attacker and the opposing team’s defender knows you have a good right foot. In your next attack, why don’t you surprise him and shift to your left foot to finish?
This is the power of range in soccer.
Whether to make an accurate pass or to control the ball: you need to be comfortable with your weak foot.
Ray’s advice: Training sessions where you only use your weak foot are a great way to improve. I will tell you right now…they are frustrating as f%#* but they did help me build a mean left foot
8. Practice Your Passing
It is hard to think of a good player that is weak at passing. Passing is also among the most important skills in soccer and for many reasons.
Effective passing not only maintains possession but also unlocks opportunities for creating goal-scoring chances.
There are many variations of passing ranging from inside foot, outside foot, laces (or grass cutters…the most satisfying ones). However, most soccer players forget about an important aspect of passes: a one-touch pass!
Passing in one touch not only speeds up the play but also stuns the opposing team as the ball moves quicker than anticipated. Think about it, quick passes (precise) are undefendable.
It is a great weapon to have in your arsenal of soccer skills, regardless of your position. Even goalkeepers need to pass in one touch to defend against pressure.
Passing is also great and easy to improve as you can pass to a soccer rebounder from a few feet away.
Ray’s advice: Using a soccer rebounder is the best way to improve your passing. It is ruthless: the pass you give is the pass you receive. Cheat code: Squash courts are also GAME CHANGERS for training.
9. Pay Attention To Your Recovery
Soccer is, without a doubt, a very demanding sport. You can’t get better if you can’t play, it’s as simple and real as that.
Getting injured is probably the worst thing that can happen to you as an athlete both physically and mentally. I have been many times, and it is not fun, at all.
To avoid these unwanted injuries, we need to pay attention to our preventive and recovery methods.
There are a lot of benefits of using a sauna for soccer players.
To deal with our muscle soreness, or bruises/bumps, then cold therapy is also recommended. The chances of getting injured get significantly lower after taking the necessary precautions.
Taking ice baths after a training session is also a great idea.
Other tools such as foam rollers, massage guns, massage sticks, and massage balls are also a great idea!
10. Invest In Your Development
Although I am against spending your money foolishly, I do believe some things need to be invested in, and one of them is your development.
We can all improve without spending a penny (most soccer players do). However, we can speed up our development by investing in equipment and memberships. There are some soccer training equipment that are lifehacks for players.
I went from an average soccer player to a good player by training consistently, and I would be lying if I said I did not invest money.
Nowadays technology has revolutionized the sport and the average soccer player has many advanced items at his disposal.
11. Spend Time Working On Your Fitness
This is a mistake I have made in the past. I dedicated all my time to improving my skills on the ball, neglecting the conditioning and running aspect of soccer.
And so my first game in Germany, I played for five minutes very well and was showcasing my skills beautifully…until I couldn’t handle the running and sprinting.
Soccer is a highly demanding sport, which involves lots of running and sprinting, and little recovery time.
Sometimes, if the soccer ball is in your area for a while, you might be running for far too long without time to recover and breathe.
Do not make the same mistake I made. Fitness is a crucial part of soccer, and the higher level you play, the more demanding it gets.
The great thing is that fitness can be trained everywhere. You just need to run more, take a deep breath, and manage it.
Ray’s advice: I would focus on fitness during the offseason as it can get your whole body to sore up and disturb your team training
12. Work Out
Similar to fitness, working out is also a crucial part of the game outside the soccer field. Hitting the weights can improve your physical strength, which will in turn show itself during match day.
In soccer, there are many shoulder-to-shoulder bumps, where generally the strongest and most stable player will still be standing. This is a strength that can only be improved by working out.
There are many reasons why soccer players go to the gym, whether it is to get stronger, have more balance, injury preventions, and many more.
You can work out anywhere you like, whether it is at home, at a local park, or signing up at a gym.
Ray’s advice: I would work on muscle and strength during the offseason. During the season, shift the focus to balance, core, and injury-preventive workouts.
13. Update And Track Your Progress
Learning new skills is nice, training is even better.
But going into training without a plan or some past version of yourself to base yourself on, you can never really progress.
As the saying goes “Compare yourself with who you were yesterday”, that means knowing what you did yesterday.
You need to keep track of your training and progress. It’s good for on-field improvement, as well as confidence.
The best way to do that is by selecting a soccer training app that does it for you.
There are so many to choose from, you simply have to pick one you like. They helped me with my progress during COVID-19 times, and they will 100% help yours.
14. Learn And Pick Your Position
Learning your position sounds foolish at first, but I think players should invest their time trying to learn and discover their positions.
How many times have we seen professional soccer players change positions during their careers (Gareth Bale comes to mind, the Welsh star started his career as a fullback and ended it as a winger).
You should look at what type of player you are, note your strengths and weaknesses, and see where on the field you would help the team the most.
Everybody wants to become an attacker until they discover they aren’t as good at making runs and finishing as they thought they were.
15. While Playing, Become Aggressive
Playing aggressively does not mean being mad on the field, but rather being a disciplined player who knows how to pick his moments to switch on aggressive mode.
It also means creating unrest in the mind of the opponent, pushing them to make mistakes.
Players who are too soft often tend to get rolled over in games, and even not create any sort of danger.
I believe it is an important step to becoming a better soccer player.
16. Improve Your Nutrition
While on the topic of taking care of your health, it has been proven many times that nutrition is the leading, driving factor to recovery and performance.
There a two approaches to nutrition for a soccer player:
- Food to fuel us before a game
- Food to recover after a game
The best food to eat before a soccer match is carb-rich foods that give us plenty of glucose (energy in the blood for the muscles to use) to last a full 90 minutes.
In contrast, the best food to eat after a game is protein-rich foods, since protein plays a big part in muscle reconstruction and overall recovery.
Nutrition also includes hydration, and drinking plenty of water and electrolyte-rich drinks is also a game changer for you.
This is because when we play soccer, we sweat a lot, and we need to replenish our lost minerals and fluids.
17. Don’t Be Afraid Of Joining Pickup Games
This is a huge life hack for soccer players that is ignored by the majority. I strongly believe playing pickup soccer is key to helping you become a better player.
While organized training is effective in perfecting your skills, you will eventually need to showcase and use those skills during a game, where actual defenders are against you and not cones.
Pickup games are great because there are no stakes (it’s just a game between friends) but they mimic real games. It is the perfect opportunity to try new things and perfect your game.
Just watch out to not get burned out if you mix pickup games with team and individual training.
18. Get A Training Partner
While modern-day training equipment is getting advanced and more useful, they are limited in their functions. Getting a training partner is a very useful tip that I would recommend strongly.
You can practice your passing, 1v1 situations, finishing drills, long passes…the possibilities are endless. Of course, the more the merrier when it comes to training partners.
You can even get yourself a goalkeeper to get better at scoring goals. A soccer net is huge and practicing by yourself won’t mimic the real game stress of a real keeper.
What is great about getting a training partner is that it helps everybody improve. It is also a great way to stay motivated since now someone else is pushing you to train.
19. Plan Your Training Sessions
Planning your training sessions is also important to get better at soccer in the sense that it keeps you organized. Training sessions are only useful if you can manage to stay focused and organized.
Planning your training sessions can range from knowing what exercises/drills you want to work on, to working on a specific skill you want to improve. All you need to do is look at what you want to work on that specific day and plan exercises accordingly.
Of course, don’t forget to warm up and cool down before and after every training session.
Ray’s advice: I like to use this format for my practice sessions:
- One exercise on something I am good at
- One exercise on something I need to improve
- One position-specific exercise to round it up
20. Learn From Other Players (Great Soccer Players)
One thing I have learned as a soccer player is that we have so much free time. It would be unwise to not use that free time to get better, right?
If you still have the drive to improve, maybe watching professionals playing soccer is a good idea as you can learn so much from their game.
You can watch their movements, how they use their spaces, how they scan, and many aspects of their game.
And if you see skills that you like or anything that you think is good, you can mimic it in your next game.
Suggestion: Watch out when watching player highlights on YouTube since it only showcases their successful moments. It can mess with your expectations. It is much better to watch full games to see the whole package of a performance.
In modern-day soccer, mental health is one problem that keeps rising at an alarming rate. It is an aspect of the game that is heavily neglected. I for one suffered (and still do sometimes) from its burden.
While there are many ways to deal with the mental aspect of soccer, a great way is through meditating.
It is proven that meditation can in fact help you get better at soccer. It teaches you to keep your cool and stay focused through deep breaths, visualization, and imagination.
If you become good at meditation, you can tune down any high-stress situation, even the ones where the opposing team wants to take the ball from you. It can help you keep your focus during a soccer game, a skill that is rare and difficult…trust me.
22. Adopt A Positive Mindset
While staying on the subject of the mental game, adopting a positive mindset is important for you.
In a soccer game, you will eventually make mistakes. Every player does.
However you can choose to let those mistakes dictate your game by thinking about them and bringing yourself down, or you can forget about them and think positively.
During a game, during a practice, or even during your career, there will be bad moments. You cannot deal with these moments by thinking negatively, you will eventually give up.
Having a positive mindset is an essential skill to help you stay motivated and overcome almost anything in soccer.
This skill will come in handy when:
- You make a mistake
- Things aren’t going your way (you don’t start games, you are in a run of bad form)
- Your teammates are frustrating you
- Opposing team or fans are taunting you
How to get better at soccer?
- Improve in-game skills like your touch, passes, both feet, and dribbling.
- Improve your athleticism by becoming fit (cardio) and working out.
- Put yourself in better conditions by investing in your development, finding training partners, and playing pickup.
- Work on your mental game by meditating and adopting a positive mindset.
Remember: Put in the work. I can give you as many tips as you want, it’s all useless unless you step on the pitch and start working. There is no shortcut.
Getting better at soccer is a journey, not something that happens overnight or in a day. You need time, perseverance, patience but most importantly, love and dedication for the sport!
So, lace up your boots, step onto the pitch, and let your dedication be the driving force behind your evolution into a better soccer player. Your potential is limitless, and the world of soccer eagerly awaits your contribution, fellow soccer player!