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Soccer is played by people of all ages in just about every country in the world. Players of all skill levels can find the right league to make the game enjoyable. There are also increasing opportunities for accomplished players who want to pursue a professional career. Regardless of his playing aspirations, a soccer player needs a certain level of athletic skill and understanding of the game to be successful.
First and foremost, soccer players must be in peak physical condition. Numbers vary, but in his blog in the Washington Post, Dan Steinberg noted that soccer players have been estimated to run anywhere between five to eight miles or 10 kilometers during a game. (see references 1) Soccer players are constantly on the move. Moments of light jogging are combined with sudden sprints up and down the field.
Soccer players become better the more they know the game. Soccer is a unique among other sports because players—other than the goalkeeper—don’t use their hands. Soccer is also similar to other sports in the way the game flows. Successful players need to have a feel for the game. They have to know how to utilize space on the field and find open teammates who might be 10 or 50 yards away.
Soccer has a specific set of skills that require years of practice. A good player and control the ball with his feet. They can pass and shoot the ball in a variety of different ways. Soccer players also use their head and torso to control the ball. A more skillful player can compete at a higher level. (see resources 1) Soccer players constantly work to hone and enhance their skills. A successful player is always striving to improve.
A modern soccer player needs to do just about everything on the field. An offensive-minded player is required to play defense once they lose the ball. Likewise, defensive players often move forward to join the attack. On some levels, such as in college or professionally, there are a limited number of substitutes allowed. Players on the field may sometimes be required to switch positions or take on different roles during a game.
As with any team sport, successful soccer teams are made up of coachable players. In an article for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Dr. Michael Klausner and Dr. David Hoch stated that coachability is part of what makes up team chemistry. Players on a team need to be able to work together and accept their specific roles. (see references 2). It is important that an individual player understands what it means to be on a team.
Based in Geneva, N.Y., Greg McNall has been a sports writer since 1998. In 2003 he received an award for Distinguished Sports Writing from the New York Newspaper Publishers Association. McNall has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y.
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