The sport of soccer is growing in North America and more kids are beginning to dream of playing at a higher level. With that being said you’ll need to separate yourself from the competition and below are some areas you can apply to your game which will help you do so.

1)      Be a 10 in something: you’re a good overall dribbler, have great stamina and your game is well rounded. However, be the best in one area of the game. I like to call it “being a 10.” For instance, if you are a great header of the ball, can shoot from distance or have tremendous speed with the ball make it a goal of yours to master this one area of your game. If you are 10 in an area of the game then it will help overshadow any areas where you may not be as strong as others. Not only that but you’ll be a great threat to your opposition.

2)      Have a perfect first touch on the ball: let’s assume that everyone on your team has a good touch on the ball. However, there will be certain times in a game when your touch on the ball will be the difference between winning the game or not. In fact, many players on your team would panic, lose control of the ball or totally miss time the ball. You don’t have to be that player. One of the best ways to improve your touch is practice controlling the ball from all kinds of scenarios as this is how it’ll be in a game. Once your touch on the ball is top notch you will not only impress everybody else but yourself. Watch video of Zidane, his moves and his incredible touch on the ball.

3)      Have a positive attitude: when the going gets tough how do you act? Are you positive? Do you complain? What kind of body language do you portray? Is it always someone else’s fault? Having a positive attitude will help inspire your teammates and yourself.  If you’re always negative it will carry over into your game and bring you down. By having a clear state of mind and one that is happy will help you focus on your job at hand.

4)      Have a winning attitude: a winning attitude will shine through and others will notice that. In fact, those players are indifferent about winning or losing also can’t hide it. It’s better to have a winning attitude. This means if you win, be professional about it. Shake your opponents and the officials hands after the match. Eye contact and a firm handshake will resonate much better than a limp wrist shake and looking off to the side. Enjoy your victory. You don’t have to show boat but surely you can celebrate. It becomes contagious and others will join in.

5)      Be a workhorse: no matter how good you are, you have to work for your success. Even the best players in the world work hard. With technology that counts the kilometers each player runs in a game you can see that when they come off the field off in the 65th minute some players will have run well over 10km. The best players are often the hardest working players in practice and games.

6)      Don’t complain: people that complain are plain and simple annoying. They find an excuse for everything and it’s always someone else’s fault. Every bad pass made or received requires a scream, grunt, flailing arms or a facial expression that says it all. Don’t be this person.

7)      Be a leader: no one ever said you could not be leader. Nothing is preventing you from taking the bull by the horns so to speak. Before the game in team meetings, in the team huddle, at half time and after games are great times to step up and be vocal. Take that leadership role.

8)      Stay late after practice to work individually: after each training session stay for thirty minutes and work on a part of your game that is lacking. This may be taking free kicks and penalty shots. It could be using your left foot, heading, crossing, dribbling or cardio work. Whatever it is, staying after training for an extra thirty minutes to work on this will help hone your skills. Soon it will become difficult to find a weakness in your game.  

9)      Be mature: maturity is a decision we make. Surely kids will be kids but at a certain point you are smart enough to decide how mature or immature you want to be. This also goes for your actions off the field. Many immature athletes will make poor decisions off the field which hurt them physically and or prevent them from advancing their athletic careers. Be smart about the choices you make. Be mature!

10)   Show you have experience: experience comes with time but there are game situations that replay themselves. Learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them. Seek guidance and advice and implement what you have learned so that those same errors don’t repeat themselves. By doing so your experience will begin to show.

How do you separate yourself from the competition?

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