Why Cross-Training can help your soccer game

by Philip MacDonald | Last updated

Cross-training and playing a variety of other sports, especially growing up, is very beneficial to the development of your overall soccer game.  Many athletes will play soccer and only soccer at every chance they get.  Nothing is wrong with this, however, there a variety of other skills, muscle groups and game senses that can be greatly developed from playing other sports.  They may even develop faster than had you simply played one sport on its own.  There are many different sports mentioned in this blog and each sport will benefit every athlete differently.  The skills learned in other sports are transferable to the game of soccer. 

Game sense: athletes will develop a better game sense and overall awareness.  The sport of basketball, specifically the point guard position, will teach the athlete about seeing the whole court, understanding positions, running plays and making overall decisions that will affect the team as a whole. 

Individual sport vs team sport: the benefit of training and competing in an individual sport is that the onus is on you.  Whether you chose to train hard, give 100%, eat properly and take care of your body is up to you.  Whatever you put into your training will show in your results.  What you put into it, is what you’ll get out of it. 

At the same time there will always be other factors that come in play.  For instance, if you run a race you could have difficult terrain, bad weather conditions, course problems, hazards, and other a series of other issues.  For example, in the sport of short track speed skating there is the risk of bumping into skaters and being knocked down despite all the hard work and training you have done.  Some great individual sports to help improve your overall athletic ability include running, cycling, tennis, swimming and skating.

In a team sport you are part of the puzzle.  You must still do all the necessary individual training required to compete at the highest level.  Some challenges you may come across in the sport of soccer, if you are not part of the starting eleven then your role becomes slightly different. Your teammates may not be on the same fitness or skill level as you, or vice versa and this could later become a problem in a game.  At the amateur level of play this can become a challenge.  When this is the case it is best to incorporate other sports and develop your overall athletic ability.  Other great team sports that help to improve your overall athletic ability include basketball, handball, hockey, American football and baseball.

Appreciation of skill: no matter the skill level you have you must always practice the basics.  The top athletes in the world are always tuning their skills.  Think of it as tuning your guitar.  You must always keep it in tune in order for it to sound right.  In order to play at the highest level consistently you must keep your athletic skills in tune.  No other sport than golf makes you have a greater appreciation for the level of difficulty and skill involved.  Professional golfers will consistently go to the driving every single day to work on a different part of their game.  They will often go through the motions and go back to basics.

Developing new skills: I played several sports growing up.  Two of them were tennis and basketball.  Each of these taught me to develop new skills.  By playing these two sports I greatly improved my footwork and short distance speed.  Quick explosive sprints also became a part of my athletic ability.  From playing tennis you are often on the baseline and then will have to sprint to the net to return a drop shot.  The game of basketball is non-stop running up and down the court which helped in changing directions, developing a better peripheral vision and overall coordination.

The best athletes in the world are often good at a number of other sports.  They also played a number of other sports growing up before deciding to concentrate on one sport.  While growing up, Michael Jordan did track and field events, played American football and baseball.  NBA point guard Steve Nash played, and still plays in his off-season, soccer.  Professional speed skaters will often be excellent runners and cyclists as it is part of their overall training. 

When not playing the game of soccer chose another sport that you’ll enjoy playing.  Try an individual sport and another team sport.  Each will benefit you more than you realize.  When you come back to the game of soccer you will be an improved athlete which can only work in your favor.  

What other sports have worked best for you?  Leave a comment and let us know

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