Become a student of the game

by Philip MacDonald | Last updated

The best athletes don’t get to where they are today without a lot of hard work. The big secret is that they do a lot of work behind the scenes. By becoming a student of the game you will take your game to new heights. There is so much you can do to enhance your soccer IQ and become the best player possible. The best way to do this is by becoming a student of the game.

Ask yourself aside from training and games what do you do in your down time to improve your overall game? Do you feel there are areas of your game you’d like to improve upon? Are there areas where you could better help yourself to get further ahead in the game? I’ve listed below a number of tips that you can also do to become a student of the game. If you take one or two and implement them you will start the process and greatly improve your game in ways you may not have before.

Watch game tape of professionals: watching a game on television as a fan is completely different than watching as a player or student of the game. Take note of the following:

–          what formation they are playing

–          count ground passes versus long ball passes

–          count how many touches each player makes on the ball

–          what kind of runs off the ball do players make

Another thing you can do is focus on the player who plays your position. Watch every move they make. Take note as to how many slide tackles they make; how many through balls; how many headers; how and when they switch the ball from one side to the other. The list of options can go on and on. The important thing is to look at how the team plays the way and to learn from them.

Watch professional games live: if you have the chance to watch a professional game live I highly recommend it. In fact watching them warm-up is very interesting. I remember watching FC Liverpool play Ajax in Amsterdamn in 2001 for a pre-season friendly. Each team had entirely different warm-ups. The forwards, midfielders and defenders were all separated and doing their exercises with their respective assistant coaches. It was very interesting to see the complexity and how serious the players were. When you watch the game live one of the first things you’ll notice is the speed of the game. Watching at field level is even better. You’ll also notice how strong the players play and how physical the game really is.

When at tournaments watch other teams: watching other teams at tournaments is a great way to see some of your competition. Surely you want to be resting between games and ideally be out of the sun light which will drain a lot of your energy but if you have the chance watch a game and learn from the other teams. If you’re playing at a showcase tournament then you’re guaranteed to have other quality teams attending. Watch them play and learn from them.

Speak to other players about their skills: have you ever asked your teammates who are particularly good at one part of their game to teach you how they do it? Once again, try learning from people that are already successful. You do not have the re-invent the wheel. Perhaps they can show you what they do and you can then add it to your bag of tricks.

Talk to other coaches: who said you should only talk to your coach? Talk to other coaches (provided they are not in the same league as you as this could cause some other problems) and pick their brains. Learn from them because they will have a wealth of knowledge that I am sure can help you. Be prepared with a number of questions before you meet them.

Becoming a student of the game means you do everything possible to educate yourself to become a better player. I always liked to go directly to those that were the best and learn from them. Even if they can share one or two pointers it may be very helpful somewhere down the line. Reading books and watching highlight videos on youtube are another great way to learn a lot in a short amount of time. Find out what style of learning works best for you whether it be doing, watching, reading or listening. Once you know your style(s) then you can have more direction in how you can go about becoming a student of the game.

What do you do to become a student of the game?

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