Before we begin, a bit of a disclaimer. This blog post is intended for serious soccer players (regardless of skill level) that want to pursue soccer as their sport of choice. I’m talking about the players that see themselves in their High School teams, College/University Team, or yes even Pro. The players (and their respective parents) that value long term development versus the short term wins. If you are one of them, keep on reading.
Lack of Soccer Culture
In Canada we have a very high standard of living, but also have essentially zero soccer culture. Until this year, we didn’t even have a professional soccer league in Canada. The good news is that we now have the Canadian Premier League and this will help make things better. In the meantime, our soccer culture is still poor. The problem is that we have football, baseball and hockey too deeply embedded in our culture that soccer comes a distant fourth place if that.
Unlike Europe or Latin America, we don’t have an elite soccer development system, but instead have a broken club system where parents make decisions for their children’s benefit and know very little about soccer. In some cases, most clubs and some soccer academies are nothing more than child minding for busy parents.
The club system creates a soccer culture that focuses on short term wins instead of long term development of the players. The Canadian Soccer Association has been trying to push the idea of long term player development for years, but has been unsuccessful so far.
Winning is important yes, but is it more important than players getting better and developing soccer skills? No.
Fundamentals such as getting touches on the ball hundreds of times a day, whether it be through an elite academy (like in Europe or Latin America) or through playing pickup from sunrise to sunset are the key to success. When was the last time you got together with your friends on the park and played soccer? It is very easy to do, we have so many parks in Guelph and you can play anytime.
Technical Development (Better Ball Control)
You see in order to be the best soccer player that you can possibly be, it is important to focus on technical development. But, what is technical development?
Technical development is just another way of saying ball control. It includes everything from first touch to juggling and shooting. It plays a huge role when it comes to your confidence on the field during game time.
Confidence is also very important in soccer. Confidence is the result of advanced technical development. In other words, the better your ability to maneuver and control the ball with your feet, the more confidence you will have at game time.
Here at Wellington Soccer Academy we focus on teaching the techniques, providing the exercises to develop skills and build up strength and confidence.
So what is the secret mentioned in this article’s title?
Most teams and clubs provide for practices once or twice a week. If you are lucky, three times a week. But that isn’t enough. The best players practice 4 to 5 times a week, some even 6! Just look at the schedule for teams higher up in the competition scale. If you look at OPDL teams, they all practice 4 to 5 times a week. How long do you think it will take you to get as good as they are practicing 2 to 3 times a week?
Unless your coach has enough time to focus on technical development and ensuring that each player at each position understands their role, most players will remain unskilled and underdeveloped.
Soccer Practice is Where you Become Great
It is simple. 2-3 practices per week does not produce excellent results. To truly become great you must practice 4 to 5 times a week and practice at home after doing your homework.
Lets look at it from a different perspective:
Can you eat healthy two days a week and be in excellent health?
Can you run 10 meters a week and be marathon runner?
Can you practice soccer twice a week and be great?
Thinking that whatever the team’s coach does for practice is enough, is a mistake. Several clubs in the region have begun telling players that they prepare for games, but skills must be learned elsewhere. Enter soccer academies. A soccer academy is where players come to learn the skills and improve their game.
Soccer academy programs provide for extra 2 to 3 practices a week, helping you get your practice numbers up. Practice more and with better coaches and you will soon be the star of your team. Take what you learn in practice and keep practicing at home, and who knows, maybe you will be a world cup player one day!