Football history

The history of football (soccer)

Football (or soccer as the game is called in some parts of the world) has a long history. Football in its current form arose in England in the middle of the 19th century. But alternative versions of the game existed much earlier and are a part of the football history.

Early history and the precursors of football

The first known examples of a team game involving a ball, which was made out of a rock, occurred in old Mesoamerican cultures for over 3,000 years ago. According to the sources, the ball would symbolize the sun and the captain of the losing team would be sacrificed to the gods. 

The first known ball game which also involved kicking took place In China in the 3rd and 2nd century BC under the name Cuju. Cuju was played with a round ball on an area of a square. It later spread to Japan and was practiced under ceremonial forms.

Other earlier variety of ball games had been known from Ancient Greece. The ball was made by shreds of leather filled with hair. The first documents of balls filled with air are from the 7th century. In the Ancient Rome, games with balls were not included in the entertainment on the big arenas, but could occur in exercises in the military. It was the Roman culture that would bring football to the British island (Britannica). It is, however, uncertain in which degree the British people were influenced by this variability and in which degree they had developed their own variants.

The game of football takes its form

The most admitted story tells that the game was developed in England in the 12th century. In this century games that resembled football were played on meadows and roads in England. Besides from kicks, the game involved also punches of the ball with the fist. This early form of football was also much more rough and more violent than the modern way of playing. An important feature of the forerunners to football was that the games involved plenty of people and took place over large areas in towns (an equivalent was played in Florence from the 16th century where it was called Calcio). The rampage of these games would cause damage on the town and sometimes death. These would be among the reasons for the proclamations against the game that finally was forbidden for several centuries. But the football-like games would appear again in the streets of London in the 17th century. It would be forbidden gain in 1835, but at this stage the game had been established in the public schools.

It took, however, long time until the features of today’s football had been taken into practice. For a long time there was no clear distinction between football and rugby. There were also many variations concerning the size of the ball, the number of players and the length of a match.

The game was often played in schools and two of the predominant schools were Rugby and Eton. At Rugby the rules included the possibility to take up the ball with the hands and the game we today know as rugby has its origin from here. At Eton on the other hand the ball was played exclusively with the feet and this game can be seen as a close predecessor to the modern football. The game in Rugby was called “the running game” while the game in Eton was called “the dribbling game”.

An attempt to create proper rules for the game was done at a meeting in Cambridge in 1848, but a final solution to some questions of rules was not achieved. Another important event in the history of football come about in 1863 in London when the first Football association was formed in England. It was decided that carrying the ball with the hands wasn’t allowed. The meeting also resulted in a standardization of the size and weight of the ball. A consequence of the London meeting was that the game was divided into two codes: association football and rugby.

The game would, however continue to develop for a long time and there was still much flexibility concerning the rules. For one thing, the number of players on the pitch could vary. Neither were uniforms used to distinguish the appearance of the teams. It was also common with players wearing caps – the header was yet to be a part of the game yet. Further reading: The development of football rules.

Another important difference at this stage could be noticed between English and Scottish teams. Whereas the English teams preferred to run forward with the ball in a more rugby fashion, the Scottish chose to pass the ball between their players. It would be the Scottish approach that soon became predominant. 

The sport was at first an entertainment for the British working class. Unprecedented amounts of spectators, up to 30,000, would see big matches in the late 19th century. The game would soon expand by British peoples that traveled to other parts of the world. Especially in South America and India the interest in football would become big.

The first football clubs

Football clubs have existed since the 15th century, but unorganized and without official status. It is therefore hard to decide which the first football club was. Some historians suggest that it was the Foot-Ball Club formed 1824 in Edinburgh. Earlier clubs were often formed by former school students and the first of this kind was formed in Sheffield in 1855. The oldest among professional football clubs is the English club Notts County that was formed in 1862 and still exists today. 

An important step for the emergence of teams was the industrialization that led to larger groups of people meeting at places such as factories, pubs and churches. Football teams were established in the larger cities and the new railroads could bring them to other cities. 

In the beginning, football was dominated by public school teams, but later, teams consisting by workers would make up the majority of those. Another change was successively taking place when some clubs became willing to pay the best players to join their team. This would be the start of a long period of transition, not without friction, in which the game would develop to a professional level. 

The motivation behind paying players was not only to win more matches, but in the 1880s the interest in the game has moved ahead to a level that tickets were sold to the matches. And finally, in 1885 professional football was legalized and three years later the Football League was established. During the first season, 12 clubs joined the league, but soon more clubs became interested and the competition would consequently expand into more divisions.

For a long time, the British teams would be dominant. After some decades, clubs from Prague, Budapest and Sienna would be the primarily contenders to the British dominance.

As with many things in history, women were for a long time excluded from participating in games. It was not before the late 19th century that women started to play football.

The first competitions

Other milestones were now to follow. Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup) became the first important competition when it was run in 1871. The following year a match between two national teams was played for the first time. The match that involved England and Scotland ended 0-0 and was followed by 4,000 people at Hamilton Crescent (the picture shows illustrations from this occasion).

Twelve years later, in 1883, the first international tournament took place and included four national teams: England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Football was for a long time a British phenomenon, but gradually spread to other European countries. The first game that took place outside Europe occurred in Argentina in 1867, but it was foreign British workers who were involved and not Argentinean citizens.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in 1904 and a foundation act was signed by representatives from France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. England and the other British countries did not join FIFA from the start, they had invented the game and saw no reason to subordinate to an association. Still, they joined in the following year, but would not partake in the World cup until 1950.

Domestic leagues occurred in many countries, the first was the English Football League which was established in 1888. The leagues would by time expand by more divisions, which were based on team performance.

In 1908 would football for the first time be included as an official sport in the Olympic Games. Until the first FIFA World Cup was played in 1930, the Olympic Games football tournament would rank as the most prestigious. Women’s football was not added until 1996.

Black players

As in many other sports the white male was predominant for a long time. In football black players started being present relatively early and in comparison with, for example, tennis, football has traditionally been known as a sport with a mix of black and white players.

In Britain Andrew Watson is known to be the first black player, and he played in the Scottish club Queen’s Park in the 1880s.

A game of passion

Few other sports show examples of passion to that extent as football. The arenas are flocked by shearing people; and in front of television even more are watching carefully and sometimes with great enthusiasm.

Already in the late 19th century Goodison Park was built in England in purpose of hosting football games. In 1894, the FA Cup final between Notts County and Bolton Wanderers was attended by 37,000 people. A milestone in football stadiums is the construction of Maracanã Stadium. In the year of 1950 the imposing stadium in Rio de Janeiro was ready for almost 200,000 people. No other sport has seen stadiums of that capacity built to host its games.

There have been two different traditions of fan culture on the arenas: the British and the South American. The British fans adopted the tradition of singing, the repertoire were inspirited from pub and working songs among other areas. The South Americans on the other hand would adopt the carnival style which include firecrackers and fireworks, and also the modern phenomena of Bengali fires. Fans in other countries have later adopted a mixture of these traditions.

The great modern competitions

No other sport event besides the Olympic Games can today measure itself with the FIFA World Cup. The first edition of the FIFA World Cup was played in 1930 in Uruguay and has since then returned every fourth year (with two exceptions due to the Second World War). In 1991 the first World Cup for women was held in China and has since then also returned every fourth year.

Today the biggest global tournament for clubs is the Champions League (played since 1992), the former European Cup (1955–1991).

Globalization of the biggest sport in the world

In the late 19th century, only a few national football teams existed; England and Scotland had the first active teams that played games against each other in the 1870s. Today there are 211 national associations included in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the world governing body of the sport. Another proof of the globalization could be seen in the increase of nations participating in World Cup qualifiers: from 32 in 1934 to over 200 in 2014.

The world regions have been divided into six confederations: Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF), Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Union des Associations Européennes de Football (UEFA), The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL).

The name of the game: football or soccer?

In most parts of the world, football is used as the name for the “chess of the green pitch”, the biggest sport in the world. In the United States and Canada, however, soccer is used instead as a distinction from American football. A more formal name sometimes used is association football, but in popular speech, it is either football or soccer.

Soccer Facts

See the fact file below for more information on Soccer or alternatively, you can download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.

The Beginning of the Sport

  • The very earliest form of the game with scientific evidence was an exercise from a military manual in China dating back to 206 B.C. to 220 A.D.
  • The Han Dynasty ancestor of a football was called Ts’u Chu. It was a leather ball measuring 30-40cm in diameter filled with feathers and hair.
  • In Japan, a similar form of this game, called kemari, began about 500-600 years after the creation of Ts’u Chu, followed by chuk-guk in Korea and woggabaliri in Australia.
  • The Greek episkyros and the Roman harpastum was later played with a smaller ball by two teams on a rectangular field marked by boundary lines and a centreline. The objective was to get the ball over the opposition’s territory.

Prelude to Global Popularity

  • As early 1314, soccer grew in popularity in Europe, however authorities issued proclamations forbidding the sport within the city due to the chaos it usually caused.
  • In 1365, King Edward III of England actually made the game punishable by law because it distracted soldiers from practising more useful military disciplines, particularly archery. The ban lasted almost 500 years.
  • Although soccer was popular from the 8th to the 19th century, it was disorganised, violent, more spontaneous and was usually played by an indefinite number of players.
  • It was nine years after the rules of soccer were first established in 1863 that the size and weight of the soccer ball was finally standardised.
  • At the beginning of the 19th century, school soccer became the custom, particularly in the famous public schools. But the rules were still relatively free and easy, with no standard form of the game.
  • Handling the ball was initially allowed, but on 8 December 1863, soccer finally disallowed it. The game that adapted ball-handling became the official sport of rugby.
  • It was in the same year that the Football Association was formed.

Worldwide Membership

  • The world’s oldest football/soccer competition is the FA Cup, which was founded by C.W. Alcock and has been contested by English teams since 1872.
  • The first official international match took place in 1872 in Glasgow, between Scotland and England.
  • England is also home to the world’s first football/soccer league, which was founded in Birmingham in 1888 by
  • Aston Villa director William McGregor. The original format contained 12 clubs from the Midlands and Northern England.
  • When FIFA was founded in Paris in May 1904, it had seven founder members: France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
  • By 1925, the number had increased to 36, while in 1930 – the year of the first World Cup – it was 41.
  • Over the next half-century, football’s popularity continued to attract new devotees and at the end of the 2007 FIFA Congress, FIFA had 208 members in every part of the world.

Women and Soccer

  • While soccer was played in many countries, women in London were banned from playing the game in 1921. It lasted for 50 years.
  • By contrast, Italy and France established women’s leagues in early 1930s.
  • The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta initiated women’s soccer as an Olympic event.
  • The first Women’s World Cup was held in China from 16-30 November, 1991. It was pursued by Dr. Hao Joao Havelange, the president of FIFA.
  • At that tournament, the U.S. team won, beating Norway 2-1 in the finals. The U.S. later won the third Women’s World Cup in 1999, beating China in a shootout. That tournament was held in the United States.
  • Currently, it is played at the professional level in numerous countries throughout the world and 176 national teams participate internationally.
  • Twice the FIFA World Player of the Year, Mia Hamm led the United States to FIFA World Cup titles in 1991 and 1999 and Olympic gold in 1996 and 2004.

History of Soccer

Soccer is one of the most popular sports in Europe and the Americas. It has a vivid and interesting history in the world of sports. Early evidence of soccer being played as a sport finds occurrence in China during the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. In China, it was during the Han dynasty that people dribbled leather balls by kicking it into a small net. Recorded facts also support the fact that Romans and Greeks used to play ball for fun and frolic. Some facts point to Kyoto in Japan where kicking of ball was a popular sport.

It is said that early growth of the modern soccer started in England. Some amusing facts even mention that the first ball used was the head of some Danish brigand. It is said that during medieval times, the old form of soccer used to allow many ill practices like kicking, punching, biting and gouging. The main aim was to carry the ball to a target spot. People grew so fond of the game that they would throng the field all day long. Sometimes the competition grew fierce and masses got so wild that there were frequent incidents of violence during the game. It is also said that soldiers admired the game so much that they missed archery practice to watch it.

King Edward III banned soccer in 1365 owing to the growing incidents of violence and military indulgence in the sport. In 1424 King James I of Scotland also proclaimed in the Parliament— “Na man play at the Fute-ball” (No man shall play football).

When and where exactly did soccer start is a question that has no precise answer to it. You can easily say that this popular game has been played for more than three thousand years. The nativity of modern-day soccer must be credited to Britain. It was also known as the association football, with Scotland and England being the co-founders of the systematic game of soccer.

Modern History of Soccer: 18th Century Onward

In 1815, a major development took place that made soccer popular in Universities, Colleges and Schools. The popular English School and Eton College came forth with a set of rules, known as the Cambridge Rules. Football was segregated into two groups; some colleges and schools opted for Rugby rules that allowed tripping, shin kicking and also carrying the ball. These rules were exclusively prohibited as per the Cambridge rules.

King Edward III banned soccer in 1365, owing to the growing incidents of violence and military indulgence in the sport.

The history of modern-day soccer was established in 1863. In October 1863, eleven representatives from London clubs and schools met at the Freemason’s Tavern to set up common fundamental rules to control the matches amongst themselves. The outcome of this meeting was the formation of the Football Association. In December 1863, the Rugby Football and Association football finally split as the supporters of the Rugby School rules walked out.

Firmly establishing the foundation of soccer in 1869, the Football Association strictly banned any kind of handling of the ball. Soccer’s popularity spread rapidly during the 1800s as British sailors, traders and soldiers introduced the sport to different parts of the globe.

TItalians, Austrians and Germans drew to Europe, while Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil adopted the sport in South America. FIFA was established in the year 1904 and by early 1930s, different leagues were operating from various countries. FIFA is credited with organizing the first world cup in Uruguay. The history of soccer is rich with events, development and its growing craze all over the world. You will find yourself amazed as you learn about different times of this wonderful sport that has held our awe and admiration for over 3000 years.

15 Key Skills to Achieve Success in Football (& tips to improve)

If you dream about becoming a professional football player, you have your work cut out for you. Less than one percent of footballers who have played the game regularly from a very young age really achieves success in football and gets the opportunity to make a living by playing. Only a small fraction of that one percent gets the opportunity to play in the big leagues and earn the fortune and fame often associated with being a professional footballer.

To become a professional soccer player and achieve success in football, you’ll need to participate in elite soccer training and attend summer soccer camps to develop these 4 core areas:

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1. Technique – ball control, dribbling skills, passing accuracy, body control

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2. Game intelligence – spatial awareness, tactical knowledge, risk assessment

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3. Physical fitness – endurance, balance and coordination, speed, strength and power

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4. Proper mindset – compasssion, composure and mental strength, coachability, self-motivation

TIP #1

Learn more about high performance soccer academies. These academies are like boarding schools for elite soccer players and offer professional soccer training as well as academic classes.

You can join a high performance academy in Europe to develop into a professional player in a european setting. Or join a high performance academy in the USA to win a professional contract with the MLS or a soccer scholarship to an American university.

Technique

Technique is perhaps the most visibly obvious element to success in football. Even an amateur can recognize good technique. Do they have good ball control? Are they fast with the ball at their feet? Can they dribble through their opponents? Do they pass to feet? Join a summer soccer camp to practice good technique.

Good technique has 4 key elements:

1. Ball control

Ball control refers to a player’s ability to collect the ball and gain control of it using all parts of the body including feet, legs, chest, and head. A player with good ball control is able to receive passes both on the ground and out of the air with clean first touches keeping the ball close to their body. Ball control also refers to a player’s ability to maintain possession of the ball, successfully protecting it from opponents. The ability to turn quickly and sharply with the ball is also of upmost important to achieving success in football and falls under the ball controlelement. Check out these ball control drills from Sports Mom Survival Guide.

2. Dribbling skills

Dribbling skills refers to a player’s ability move up and down the pitch with full control of the ball. A player with good dribbling skills can move the ball in different directions at different speeds with both feet. They can successfully maneuver through opponents without losing possession of the ball. Superb drilling skills are essential to achieving success in football for players of all positions.

Want some dribbling tips from a pro? Retired professional soccer player Jeremie Piette discusses tight space dribbling, open space dribbling, and speed dribbling in his article titled Tips to Improve Dribbling Skills in Soccer.

3. Passing accuracy

Passing accuracy refers to a player’s ability to use both feet to send the ball to the player’s desired destination. That could mean sending the ball straight to a teammate’s feet with power and precision, sending a through pass into space with proper weight, crossing the ball accurately in front of the net, or, for strikers shooting the ball accurately and powerful into the back of the net. Players cannot achieve success in football without being able to pass accurately with both feet.

4. Body control

Body control refers to a player’s ability to move their body fluidly to optimize balance and coordination. Since body control falls under the category of technique rather than physical fitness, body control refers mostly to correctness of form. Long strides, correct running form, and a low center of gravity are good indications of good body control.

Check out Messi’s incredible technique in the video below. If that doesn’t inspire you to get out to the pitch and start practicing, nothing will.

TIP #2

Improving technique is a question of hours of practice and specifically repetitive drills. Playing in friendly scrimmages isn’t the best way to improve any one of these essential skills. Instead, players should practice drills which target each specific skill until they perfect each skill. Then, they should take those skills to the pitch and practice them critical during match play.

Game intelligence

Game intelligence is measured by a player’s ability to make smart decisions on the pitch and make them quickly. A smart footballer aims to keep the game as clean as possible, minimizing energy expenditure while maximizing results. Essentially, game intelligence implies playing smarter, not harder. Join a summer soccer campto learn how to be an intelligent player.

Game intelligence comprises 3 skills:

5. Spatial awareness

Spatial awareness refers to a player’s ability to see space clearly across the entire pitch and utilize it to their advantage. What does it mean to see space clearly?

First of all, players need to be aware of the immediate space around them. According to the position of the ball, their own teammates, and their opponents, where should they be? Should they be moving into a space to receive a pass? Should they be drawing defenders away from their teammate who has the ball to create open space for them?

Secondly, intelligent players are always aware of where their teammates are and where they should be according to the positioning of the other team. There are two reasons they need to know where their teammates are and should be: (1) to tell them where they should be if they’re not there, and (2) to anticipate their teammate’s position and make a quick, instinctive pass almost without looking. In fact, scouts often look for this sixth sense of a footballer.

Finally, intelligent players are extremely aware of the geometry of the game. They know how to position themselves and others to make wide angles and easy passing opportunities for themselves while on offense and narrow angles and difficult passing opportunities for their opponents while on defense.

Spatial awareness is a complicated skill which encompasses many other skills absolutely essential to achieving success in football. In fact, spatial awareness is also closely related to the next game intelligence skill, tactical knowledge.

TIP #3

One way to improve spatial awareness is to watch a lot of beautiful football and watch it actively. That means paying attention to more than just the ball. Watch the position of all the players on the field (on both teams) and try to anticipate their passes and positioning. Tip: Watch older recorded games. Pause the game often and really concentrate on players’ positioning. Save the current matches for enjoying with friends.

6. Tactical knowledge

Tactical knowledge refers to a player’s knowledge of the nature and structure of the game.  The formation of a team highly influences the tactics they will use to win. Soccer formations have changed drastically throughout the years. If you want to be an intelligent soccer player, it’s a good idea to get to know the various kinds of formations  used today and the tactics and strategies that go along with each one.

While spatial awareness helps intelligent players see their immediate opportunities, tactical knowledge contributes to a player’s ability to anticipate the future opportunities that will arise from each move. For this reason, tactically intelligent players are great at maintaining possession and not only waiting for the right moment to attack, but also creating the right moment to attack. By anticipating the moves of their own players and their opponents, intelligent players can move the ball across the field, creating gaps in the opposing team’s defense until they have just enough space to attack.

Tactical intelligence is also critical to performing well on defense and perhaps even more important. On defense, players should constantly be assessing the field to accurately anticipate their opponents’ next moves. If they anticipate correctly, they can close down their opponents’ angles, prevent easy passes between them, and force them to make a mistake.

Tactical intelligence is especially important for center backs and central midfielders because these players are in the best position not only to see the entire pitch but also to communicate with and command their teammates. Nevertheless, extraordinary tactical knowledge is vital for anyone who really wants to achieve great success in football.

TIP #4

One of the best ways to acquire game intelligence is to train with different coaches and players at various times throughout the year. By doing so, players learn different perspectives and expand their strategic repertoire.

Many well-known club teams like Real MadridFC Barcelona, and Manchester City offer summer camps and year-round camps where players get to learn to play according to the philosophies and tactical styles of these great teams. Some programs even offer theoretical workshops and video analysis where they discuss the decision making skills of each player on the pitch. Ertheo offers the best football programs in the world affiliated with these clubs. Click HERE to browse the full list of football camps and programs we offer.

7. Risk assessment

Risk refers to the fact that certain aggressive decisions could lead to loss of possession (or failure to regain possession in the case of diving or tackling on defense). When a team loses possession, each and every team member must expend extra energy until they regain control. Such aggressive decisions could lead to over expenditure of energy and inability to perform well for the full 90 minutes of the match. On the other hand, a complete lack of aggressive decisions in an effort to conserve energy and maintain possession could prevent the team from scoring goals and ultimately lead to a loss.

“If you’re attacking, you don’t get as tired as when you’re chasing.”
Kyle Rote, Jr.

Intelligent players, therefore, are constantly assessing the risk and reward of their decisions on the pitch. Should we make the long cross into the box and hope that someone touches it into the net but risk losing possession? Or should we maintain possession and pass around the top of the box until one of our players has an open shot on goal?

Risk assessment, tactical knowledge, and spatial awareness are all complex skills that lead to smart, fast decisions, and, ultimately, game intelligence.

“I am not a perfectionist, but I like to feel that things are done well. More important than that, I feel an endless need to learn, to improve, to evolve, not only to please the coach and the fans but also to feel satisfied with myself. It is my conviction that here are no limits to learning, and that it can never stop, no matter what our age.”
Cristiano Ronaldo

TIP #5

Developing game intelligence requires an excessive amount of match play and an even greater amount ofreflection. The most intelligent players always reflect on their mistakes and determine what they would do differently to improve their performance.

Physical fitness

Physical fitness is another essential element to achieving success in football; a football match lasts for 90 – 95 minutes with very few subs. According to Livestrong, midfielders run an average of over 11 kilometers per match. Wingers perform the most “high-intensity” runs averaging nearly 150 sprints of at least 75% of their full speed per match. Apart from goalkeepers, center-backs run the least but still average 9.5 kilometers per match.

In addition to endurance and speed, footballers need balance and physical strength to defend the ball at their feet, to shoot, to pass the ball long distances, to win balls out of the air, etc.

In conclusion, physical fitness in football comprises 4 essential elements:

8. Endurance

According to dictionary.com, endurance is the ability or strength to continue to last especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions. That is, endurance not only refers to a player’s physical fitness and ability to make it through the entire 90 minutes. It also refers to a player’s mental strength and ability to continue despite the overwhelming fatigue he or she might feel.

Elite footballers must not just endure physically but also mentally. As the body fatigues, control, focus, and decision making becomes more and more difficult. The ability to perform both physically and mentally for more than 90 minutes is crucial to achieving success in football.

“The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking.”
Mia Hamm

9. Balance and coordination

Great balance and coordination are necessary skills for footballers. Footballers are often moving fast in small spaces either weaving through defenders or, on defense, keeping up with the moves of offenders. Moving quickly in small spaces with one foot on the ball requires a superb amount of balance and coordination. Balance and coordination (mixed with speed) is what makes a player agile and agility is a necessary skill for the best footballers.

TIP #6

Make sure you work on both feet. It’s difficult to be balanced and coordinated if you can only work comfortably with half of your body.

10. Speed

Speed is necessary for footballers in terms of both quickness and quick feet and speed across greater distances. Speed in terms of quickness and quick feet goes hand in hand with balance and coordination. This type of quick speed in small spaces contributes to a player’s agility and ability to weave through defenders. The quickness is also essential for defensive players to keep up with their mark and to keep offensive players from dodgingthem or sprinting passed them with the ball.

The second kind of speed is speed across greater distances. Such speed assists footballers in beating their opponents to the ball and also beating them in long runs down the sidelines both on offense and defense. Speed is a baseline skill for footballers and is of upmost importance. A player might be super agile with the ball at their feet, but if they’re slow and can’t beat their opponents to the ball, they’ll never get the opportunity to show off their agility.

TIP #7

Running form is extremely important for speed. There are some general rules of running form that equate to running efficiently and increasing speed. For example:

  1. The runner should run with their body slightly leaning forward. This allows the runner to keep the core contracted to lift the knees and drive forward.
  2. Additionally, such form makes it easier to land with the knee just over the toe. A runner should never strike the ground in front of their center of gravity as they not only run the risk of injury but also lose power.
  3. The runner should run with short quick strides. Stretching and over-striding makes it difficult to strike the ground in line with the knee and results in risk of injury and loss of power.

Proper running form is a semi-controversial topic. Some say that the runner should land on the forefoot rather than the heel of the foot. Others say that the runner should always strike the ground from heel to toe. Seeking professional advice or attending a camp designed to improve running form would be a great investment for a football player who’s interested in increase their speed.

Additionally, functional strength training could greatly increase running speed. Functional strength training in terms of running includes running with parachutes or weight sleds, or running in partners with bungee cords (over-speed training).

11. Strength and power

Strength and power contribute to a player’s speed and agility as well as their ability to shoot, make long passes, defend and shield the ball, steal the ball from their opponents, and win balls out of the air.

Leg strength is undoubtedly important for passing the ball long distances and shooting and is undeniably advantageous in almost all aspects of the game. That being said, upper body strength and particularly core strength is also favorable while defending and shielding the ball and stealing the ball from opponents. In football, arm strength is often used to create space between the attacking player and their opponents while leg strength is used to maintain a low center of gravity. Therefore, while leg workouts are essential and should be prioritized, upper body workouts should not be overlooked.

Speed and agility are the physical attributes that are typically assigned to a so-called skilled player, but even an agile player can be easily pushed off the ball and lose possession without strength and power in both the upper and lower body.

Technique and game intelligence are vital to achieving success in football. However, without the strength and power to win the ball, protect the ball, send long and powerful passes, and sprint past opponents, even the most intelligent players are quite useless on the pitch.

DID YOU KNOW…

Did you know that YOGA can improve your strength, speed, power, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness? Check out these yoga poses specially designed for soccer players from Simplifaster.

Proper mindset

Proper mindset is the final key to achieving success in football. To really achieve success, footballers have to put all their heart and soul into their sport. That being said, such passion can result in devastation after defeat or burnout. To achieve success in football, football players need to find a balance and learn to be passionate, while maintaining composure, and demonstrating resilience.

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
Pele

Proper mindset comprises 4 core traits:

12. Passion and love for the sport

The most important trait that a footballer must have to achieve success in football is a burning passion and love for the sport. In order to achieve success, footballers put in incomprehensible hours of practice, and once they achieve success, they continue to do so. These hours not only include time on the pitch but also time spent watching football matches, analyzing them, reflecting upon a player’s own performance on the pitch, etc. To achieve success in football, one must eat, sleep, and breathe football.

DID YOU KNOW…

Have you heard of the 10,000 hour rule? The 10,000 hour rule states that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in something. The rule was based on a study by K. Anders Ericsson and made famous by Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book Outliers. Although the rule has officially been disproven, the point remains – it takes a lot of practice to become an expert and even more practice to become one of the best in the world.

13. Composure and mental strength

Passion and love for the sport is often accompanied by extreme competitiveness. Those who LOVE their sport LOVE to win. This competitiveness is certainly crucial to achieving success in football, but it should also be accompanied by composure and mental strength.

Composure and mental strength can help a player to:

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(1) Perform well under pressure – When time is running out, players often begin to play frantically. Composure helps a player to make rational decisions even in the last minutes of the match. Composure is also important in crucial game situations such as penalty kicks or even breakaways.

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(2) Accept defeat – Mental strength is important for a player to be able to accept defeat and continue to train and play with a clear mind, empty of regret.

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(3) Deal with unnecessary aggression from the other team – During matches, players can certainly get unnecessarily aggressive with players from the other team, pushing, elbowing, and stepping on feet when the referee isn’t looking. It’s easy to retaliate in rage. However, rage invokes a physical state which leads to poor decision making on the pitch and, ultimately, losses.

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(4) Accept rejection and persevere – Footballers on the path to becoming professional football players will certainly have to deal with rejection along the way. The path for most is long and arduous. Many players get rejected from teams that they think will be their road to success. It’s important to accept this rejection and keep moving forward.

“The secret is to believe in your dreams; in your potential that you can be like your star, keep searching, keep believing and don’t lose faith in yourself.”
Neymar

14. Coachability

Another important trait of a football player with the proper mindset is their coachability. Dr. Goldberg, Sports Performance Consultant and internationally-known expert in peak sports performance, describes the un-coachable athlete as “that individual who feels that he/she is never wrongthat the coach is unfairly picking on them whenever any kind of critical or even constructive feedback is given and the player who simply refuses to take any responsibility for his/her mistakes or failure.”

No matter how talented a player might be, they have to be willing to learn from their coaches. This means not only listening to his or her instructions, but also seeking out, accepting, and integrating feedback without defensive backlash. Players should also demonstrate an ability to self-correct and try new actions to get improved results.

15. Self-motivation

The final trait a football player must possess to truly achieve success in football is self-motivation. As mentioned early, becoming one of the best in the world requires an incredible amount of practice. To practice for the necessary amount of hours at the necessary intensity, serious footballers must put in extra hours and make all kinds of sacrifices including waking up early to train, adhering to a strict diet and exercise routine, and missing out on all kinds of experiences with their peers.

Final thoughts

Becoming a successful soccer player is a challenge for even the most talented players. These 15 skills are essential to your development as a soccer player, but you’ll need more than skill to go pro. Specifically, you need knowledge about exactly how you can become a professional player.

The absolute best way to achieve success in soccer and even become a professional soccer player is to attend a high-performance soccer academy as a high school student. At high-performance academies, students explore their options to play professionally without neglecting their education. During the winter months, the academies offer trials for interested students. Winter trials give coaches the chance to evaluate students’ performance and give students the chance to experience life as a full-time academy student.

So, yes, it’s a lot of work. But, check out how much successful soccer players make! Click the picture below to find out.

10 Crazy Things You Never Knew About Soccer

Association football, often called soccer in some parts of the world, is one of the most popular sports in the world. People all across the globe regularly play and watch football and it has grown to not only be a huge source of entertainment but also one of the biggest businesses on the planet. This is largely down to its simplicity, with two teams of eleven players attempting to kick the ball into the net to score a goal, meaning that it can effectively be played with just a ball. Here is a selection of bizarre facts and crazy stats that you never knew about the beautiful game.

A Player Was Sent Off After Just Two Seconds

Any player who is shown the red card by a referee must leave the field of play. They are generally rare occurrences and normally happen for serious foul play or violence. However, one footballer was sent off after just two seconds in 2000. As the referee blew his whistle to signal the start of the game, Lee Todd exclaimed, “F**k me, that was loud,” prompting the referee to show a red card for using foul language.

Christmas Truce Saw Soldiers Play Soccer

Despite the fact that World War I was a brutal conflict, many soldiers along the Western Front entered into an unofficial truce at Christmas 1914. They exchanged gifts and supplies, sang hymns and Christmas songs and allowed each other to send messages and collect dead comrades. Most bizarre of all though were the sporadic games of soccer that broke out between German and British soldiers in between the trenches.

Considering the huge popularity of soccer all around the world it should come as little surprise that the biggest tournament in the game is the most watched sporting event. It dwarfs other competitions such as the Olympics and the Super Bowl, with a viewership of more than 700 million people.

There Are 3.5 Billion Fans

According to research carried out by FIFA and data gathered by the likes of Google and Twitter, there are approximately 3.5 billion soccer fans in the world. These are people who regularly watch games or actively support a particular team. That figure means that almost half of the people in the world follow soccer.

Surprising facts about soccer

Almost 300 million people around the world play soccer, and the amount of people that watch the sport is equally staggering. It is the most popular sport in the world and is the national sport of over 60 different nations. It can be traced back over 20 centuries and had many various forms before The Football Association penned the first official rules in 1863. Hundreds of years, and 20 World Cups later, soccer has racked up some interesting trivia throughout its extensive history. You can read some of them below.

1. Nooit opgeven altijd doorgaan, Aangenaam door vermaak en nuttig door ontspanning, Combinatie Breda is the longest football club name in the entire sport; the Netherlands-based team is commonly referred to just as NAC Breda.

2. Robbie Keane is the Republic of Ireland national football team’s top scorer in history, scoring 68 goals in 146 games; the player just behind him in the ranking is Niall Quinn who has only 21 goals in 91 games.

3. Arthur Friedenreich scored an astounding 1,329 goals over his 26 years playing for Brazil making him the top scoring footballer in world history.

4. Despite being more popular in other parts of the world, soccer is still watched by more people in the United States than Hockey and Car Racing.

5. Gareth Bale is the most expensive soccer player in history, beating out Cristiano Ronaldo in 2013 when he was traded from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid for €100 Million; that is equivalent to $116,865,500.

6. The word soccer originated in Britain as a nickname for Association Football; it was later adopted by the United States to differentiate from American Football.

7. The 2014 world cup was held in Brazil, where you are not allowed to consume alcoholic beverages during soccer games; FIFA successfully urged them to rescind this rule because Budweiser was a sponsor of the cup.

8. Soccer as we know it may have originated in England, but the game can be traced back over 2,000 years to China.

9. The spherical shape of a soccer ball is an optical illusion created by the pattern; they are slightly oval.

10. In 1953, iconic James Bond actor Sean Connery was offered a contract to play for Manchester United.

11. Players run between six and ten miles over the course of one game, which is the most out of any other sport.