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9 Critical Characteristics You Must Have to be a Successful Soccer Athlete!

December 31, 2003 09:00 PM
Editors note - These tips are intended for high school aged players. The following recommendations should not be used on younger athletes.

Soccer has rapidly evolved into a quicker and faster game. Not only does it take excellent technical and tactical skills, but also a higher degree of athleticism in order to be a competitive player. Because of this increased level of play, there are great soccer players and there are great soccer athletes. Take for example Rivaldo, Zinedine Zidane, or Diego Maradona. What do each of these players possess that allow them to be the best in the world? They are all incredible athletes displaying great field perception, an explosive first step, and the ability to play with both feet. These dynamic players have developed their athletic skills over a period of years.

Yes, genetics does play a role in determining athleticism, however through proper training and practice one can become a better athlete! It is important to understand that developing athleticism is a long-term process, not a six-week program. To become a great athlete means to continually work on the following athletic qualities year round.

Below is an Athletic Checklist of the key components of athleticism. Use this checklist as a tool to evaluate your own level of play. Which of these components are your strengths? Which athletic components are your weaknesses? Which areas do you need to improve in the most?

First Step Quickness
Straight Ahead Speed (SAS)
Lateral Speed and Agility (LSA)
Acceleration/Deceleration- ability to start & stop
Flexibility & Stretching
Multi-Directional Strength & Power
Mental Toughness

Now that you have completed the Athletic Checklist, you can use your results as a basis for your soccer training. The key to planning your training session is to write out your objectives for the day and put them in a sequential order that best meets your needs. Examples of training session order might be the following:

Warm-up (include balance exercises and flexibility)
1. Speed Training (SAS or LSA) w/out a ball
2. Soccer Technical Skill (passing, shooting, etc.)
3. Soccer Tactical Skill (small sided games)
4. Cool down (Stretching)

Warm-up (Dynamic Flexibility)
1. Speed Training (SAS or LSA) w/a ball
2. Multi-Directional Strength & Power
3. Endurance (soccer specific)
4. Cool down (Stretching)

Warm-up (Balance & Dynamic Flexibility)
1. Speed Training (SAS or LSA)
2. Soccer Technical Skill (wall pass, give and go, etc.)
3. Soccer Tactical Skill
4. Multi-Directional Strength
5. Cooldown (Stretching)

This is the beginning of a series of articles that will each focus on the 9 main components of athleticism. The goal is to provide you, the athlete, with practical tips on how you can integrate athleticism into your daily soccer training.
Jeremy Boone (email is the owner of the Carolina Athletic Development Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina and Official Content Provider for the Network. is coming Fall 2000! Providing Practical Solutions for Taking Athletes to the Next Level



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