Ask Dads what career they would most like for their sons and the popular answer would be, if they are honest, a professional footballer, or to our American cousins a professional soccer player. Funnily enough, it’s not always the most talented that eventually get to fit that description. There are two absolute essentials; the right attitude and productive practice.
What do you have to do to give your son the best possible chance of becoming a professional footballer or professional soccer player? He has to, obviously, have a talent for the game, an enjoyment of it and a desire to improve and do well but there are many other abilities he must develop, including technique, skill and the right attitude – which might not be what you think!
It has been attributed to different champion sportsmen but the dictum: “They say I’m lucky but you know what … the more I practice, the luckier I get,” highlights a simple truth. All ambitious sports persons must practice but not any practice.
Take tennis for example; merely getting the ball back over the net at a decent pace won’t produce much improvement. Hitting through, and then dropping alternative shots with backspin, continually observing results and making appropriate adjustments, and doing that for hours every day; it’s no real use a player gently knocking a ball against a surface and controlling the return. The practice has to be under some sort of pressure e.g a short turn after the pass and then going to meet the ball.
And attitude? Well, there will be more articles on this, but two essentials can be mentioned. Some of this attitude will be inherited but the player must have the self motivation to practice and work hard to reach his goal(s); and probably score some! Encourage by simply asking “Did you do your best?” This doesn’t put any pressure to perform which is usually negative in its results. It does produce a desire to do well and practice. Then don’t judge on results of the team. Kids can be developing well and learning to play correctly but not getting great results. If the team has been beaten by opposition that might be bigger and faster (a common result in youngsters!) ask what the result will be two or three years down the road and which players will have developed the most. It will be different!