I recently watched the Toronto Raptors of the NBA take on the LA Lakers. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers was obviously the player to watch. After reading up on him I learned some interesting facts. Kobe Bryant is obviously an incredible talent but in a recent interview he stated that to prepare for the upcoming season he was up running at the track everyday at 6am. He then went on to take 1,000 shots from all around the court before team practice. For example, he had to make (not attempt) 400 free throws before moving on to the next shot. After team practice he watched up to three hours of game footage of himself and his opponents. He did this every single day of the summer in preparation for the upcoming season. Kobe is truly a student of the game and his success is no mistake. Success leaves trails and it is up to us to follow those same patterns.
The same can be said for many other great athletes across different sports. David Beckham used to spend hours each day taking dead ball kicks from the same spot. To this day he continues to train and take a minimum of 30 free kicks each day. Tiger Woods was handed his first golf club at the age of 1 and had a perfect swing by the age of three. This was due to hours and hours of practice, with constructive and immediate feedback. Cristiano Ronaldo was not born with the ability to repeat five step-overs at an incredible speed. He practiced every single day until it became second nature.
So what can an amateur do? Since you’re not making a living in your sport then it is difficult to spend hours and hours each day perfecting your skills. But you can still take 10-20 free kicks, penalties or corners at the end of each training session. Stay an extra 10 minutes after training to improve some of your weaknesses. Or you can continue to perfect your best strength whether it is free kicks or dribbling with the ball. You can also take one or two days a week on your own and work on a specific area of your game. Maybe you’ll have to get up earlier or stay up later in the day to find the time but it can be done. It might not be easy but it can be done. And if you’re a professional then that is no reason to take it easy. Now is absolutely the time to take it to the next level.
There is an abundance of soccer footage on the internet for you to study and learn from. In addition, you can seek feedback from you fellow teammates and coaches for areas of your game that you can improve upon.
There is no reason why you can’t continue to improve each and every year. The amount of work you put in each and every day will determine how much better you will become. As mentioned before, success leaves clues. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Follow the patterns to success.