Like any sport, knowing the rules and understanding the game will help you play soccer well. A few simple tips for beginners can make the difference between just playing the game, and playing it the right way. Following these helpful do’s – and avoiding these don’ts – gives you the best chance to have success on the field.
Playing the game the right way takes time and effort. The best ways to quickly get comfortable with the rules and etiquette of soccer are to watch more experienced players, and to ask coaches and teammates for help.
Use the Right Equipment
Hot Tip: A Wise Investment
The right equipment can be costly in some cases. But for players entering a full season of soccer, it’s worth the investment to avoid injuries that can keep you off the field.
Soccer cleats are by far the most important piece of equipment you will buy. The right cleats should fit snugly and support your arch, while giving your ankle full range of motion. In most cases, beginning players wear synthetic shoes that have molded, plastic cleats. Advanced players will often wear screw-in metal cleats that adjust to different types of terrain.
Thick socks and protective shin guards are also important to have. Soccer-ready socks help you avoid blisters and foot cramps, while shin guards offer great protection from kicks and falls.
Stay in Shape
If you are embarking on a new soccer season, it’s important to gradually increase the intensity and duration of your fitness routine. Creating a training program that pushes you a little farther each week is a great start. A good cardiovascular program for soccer includes:
- Interval training: Combining bursts of intensity with short periods of rest and light activity simulates game action and soccer movements, giving you the best chance to increase endurance quickly.
- Exercises you enjoy: Enjoying your training program is the best way to make sure you’ll stick with it throughout the season.
- Days of rest: All effective workout programs include at least one day of rest so that tissue can rebuild and be ready to work again.
- Adjust to the intensity of the season: After the season begins, it’s a good idea to slow down your workouts to avoid wear and tear on your body.
Pass the Ball
Crisp passing is the international language of soccer. Looking up when you dribble and being able to fire a sharp pass to a teammate on the run makes you able to fit in with most players on most fields all over the world.
Making sharp, accurate passes will both endear you to your teammates, as well as increase the odds you’ll get a pass yourself. It also makes cycling the ball downfield much easier. Individual play is great when it leads to scoring opportunities, but most shots on goal are the product of crisp passing and smart movement in space.
Be a Good Sport
Soccer is the ultimate team sport, compared to many other sports that are geared toward individual results. Playing soccer means caring more about team goals than individual goals. It’s a good idea to get used to enjoying the success of your teammates. When your team wins, you win.
Being a good sport also means respecting the referees. Like you, they are working hard and doing their best. Show respect for those around you on the field, and you will likely be respected in turn.
Understand You’re Part of a Team
Soccer players who work together usually find it easier to win. Players who recognize the importance of teamwork, and are always giving maximum effort on the field, are certain to attract the attention of coaches and earn minutes during games.
Playing the right way also means knowing what to avoid on the field. To learn the game the way it’s supposed to be played, pay attention to more experienced players and follow these steps to learn what not to do.
Wear the Wrong Equipment
Football cleats and tennis shoes are no-no’s on the soccer field. At the youth level, metal cleats also shouldn’t be worn. The wrong shoes can lead to injury, both to you and to other players.
Concerning your clothing, it’s a good idea to avoid clothes intended for other sports, such as workout clothes, tank tops and sweatpants. Dressing like a soccer player helps you play like one.
Get Out of Shape or Overtrain
You owe it to yourself and your teammates to stay in shape. Aggressive defending and bursting to corral a loose ball requires hard training before the season and between games. If you’re playing in an organized league, your teammates are relying on you to be in shape throughout the season.
On the other hand, you owe it to yourself to avoid overtraining. Pay attention to your body and don’t overdo it. It’s important to get rest and know your body’s limits.
Be a Ball-Hog
Selfish players make terrible teammates in soccer. You might be a skillful dribbler who’s quick enough to make a fast dash into the penalty area, but that will likely lead to a turn over more than it will a goal. Selfish play will make your teammates avoid getting you the ball, and likely result in your coaches telling you to take a seat on the bench.
If you are comfortable with the ball on your foot, work to get open and let your teammates find you. The game has a way of rewarding great play and punishing selfish players.
Soccer is a game of ego and humility. It’s important to be confident on the field and to know that the hard work you’ve put will pay off. It’s also important to be humble enough to never assume anything. Good soccer players know they have to earn everything.
World Famous Brazilian Soccer Player
A great way to avoid over-confidence is to practice on your own, or with a teammate, away from the team. Developing your skills and conditioning on your own will help you develop your confidence and keep you hungry for more. As you begin to take the game seriously, you’ll learn respect for the game that will help you succeed.
Enjoy the Game
The most important thing to do in soccer is to like playing the game. If you enjoy the time you spend with your teammates on (and off) the field, you will work harder in training and during games. In the end, enjoying the game leads to more victories than losses.