Becoming a skilled soccer player takes a lot of training and practice, but another way to learn the game is to watch the best players compete, and that means watching the professionals. Whether you live close enough to an MLS team, or enjoy living in Europe where most the world’s finest soccer players have assembled, try to make time to see a real live match. If you don’t have this luxury, take your team to a local college or even high school match to see how older kids play the game.
When watching these games, aspiring soccer players can get a grasp of what skills are important for playing the game at a higher level. I can remember when my youth soccer team was taken to watch a high school game, and I recall my amazement at how fast the game was played, and also how physical it was at the competitive level.
Another thing that impressed me was the distance players could kick the ball. At the time I could hardly get the ball airborne unless it was rolled to me, and these guys were kicking it half way up the field. Watching professionals at this is most impressive. Players can routinely send the ball across the entire length of the pitch directly to a teammate’s feet, and that player can usually trap the ball with a single touch. Watching such actions were an inspiration to a young me, and were a reminder of how much there was still to learn.
Another benefit of watching more advanced soccer players is that you can examine new tricks and moves that they do. At the time, the scissors was about as advanced as I’d seen, but watching the professionals introduces you to all sorts of tricks that throw defenders for a loop. Take a close look at this Neymar move and see if you could pull this off in a game.
A really good part about watching better soccer players is that it keeps your team humble. In later school years, there is a definite issue with soccer players becoming over-confident with their average skills. Yes, confidence is very important for soccer players, but a level of staying grounded is needed to keep up hard work so that the player improves. Taking your players to see the best will let them know that there is still a long way to go and will hopefully inspire them to keep working towards their soccer goals.