5 key skills of every successful football player

5 key skills of every successful football player

Skills can be learnt and acquired. If a player starts with natural talent that’s great, but don’t be discouraged if you have a massive passion for football and feel other players are more talented than you. Antonio Conte said, “My talent as a footballer was medium. But I had heart, a will to win, to work to overcome my limitations.” That’s the attitude that will take you far on and off the field.

Let’s dive into the 5 key skills of every successful football player. Remember that success takes time. Your dreams beckon you from somewhere in the future. In order for you to reach your dreams you need to work hard now.

5 key skills of every successful football player

In this blog, I’ll discuss:

1Technique: ball mastery and control, dribbling and running with the ball, passing accuracy and body movement.
2Game intelligence: spatial awareness and memory, risk assessment and decision making.
3Mindset: belief, resilience, integrity, composure, confidence, coachability, motivation.
4Physical fitness and health: agility, balance and coordination, speed, power and strength.
5Discipline: discipline to set goals and reach them and to practise self-control on, and off, the field.

1 | Technique

Good technique is the foundation of a successful football player. Beginning from young, a player will learn ball mastery and control, dribbling and running with the ball, passing accuracy and body movement. As the player develops, the drills become more complex and the coach can include more challenging skills and concepts so that real life situations are simulated within the drill. For example, awareness and scanning while dribbling.

Technique can be developed by juggling a ball thousands of times; kick ups are absolutely necessary to improve touch and control; but technique comes down to working not only your feet, but also your brain. In a game scenario, technique comes down to passing the ball with with the right weight of touch at the right speed, to the correct player, at the best possible time.

“Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball, and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple.”

Bill Shankly

“When the technique doesn’t arrive at the best level, arrive with your heart, with head, with enthusiasm, with passion, with work.”

Antonio Conte

2| Game Intelligence

Memory, decision making and the ability for a player to analyse the most important information on the pitch are vital. Developing these skills with the right training is critical to raising your level of ability.

Learning by practise, perception and reasoning is far superior than learning by being told. A good coach will create scenarios through complex drills that provoke the player to think for themselves and come to a conclusion.

By asking the right questions, coaches can teach players to learn for themselves. Game intelligence learnt this way is a powerful substitute in place of the traditional coaching format.

“It’s like everything in football – and life. You need to look, you need to think, you need to move, you need to find space, you need to help others. It’s very simple in the end.”

Johan Cruyff

“Football is a game about feelings and intelligence.”

Jose Mourinho

3 | Mindset

Your mindset will determine how you perform on and off the field. Confidence, resilience and belief set up a player’s thought-life. This forms their habits, distinguishing them from those who haven’t focussed on the mental side of the game.

“Juventus were an example for my Manchester United. I had my players watch videos of Lippi’s team and would say: ‘Don’t look at tactics or technique, we have that too, you need to learn to have that desire to win.”

Sir Alex Ferguson

“When you focus on what you can’t control you get excuses. When you focus on what you can control you get results.”

Gary Curneen

4 | Physical Fitness and Health

Despite the best technique, game intelligence and mindset, players will still be capped in their performance if they don’t focus on bettering their physical fitness and health. A player needs agility, balance and coordination, speed, power and strength.

“I couldn’t have been a great goalkeeper without power, agility, and quickness.”

Hope Solo

“Work hard to get good, then work harder to get better.”

Jose Mourinho

5 | Discipline

Discipline is an underrated virtue. Discipline is one of the keys to becoming a resilient adult, and resilience is not just a great ability to have, it’s a necessity in the modern world. A player must possess and practise discipline to train consistently, to set goals and reach them, to stay focussed when times are tough, to keep practising whether we’re in lockdown or not.

A player must also possess discipline to practise self-control on and off the field. When the referee doesn’t always respond with the fairest decision, when the other team is trying to make you lose your head, discipline is the virtue that keeps you playing at an optimal level. Without it, your feelings can take over and ruin the game.

I’ll end off by quoting Jurgen Klopp who says, “I have only one understanding of development and of making success, and that’s by going step by step.

We can’t become overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done. We have to remember what we can do today and take the next step.

Brain-boosting tips, Brain-centred Training, Children, discipline, Football, improve your performance, IQ Football, Mindset, performance, physical fitness and health, Skills, Soccer, Soccer Academy, soccer quotes, technique


Sean Szabo

Recognised as a leading brain-centred football coach in Gauteng, Sean Szabo is an English FA qualified coach who has worked internationally assisting player’s motor and technical football skills, as well as their cognitive development on and off the field. IQ Football was founded in 2015 by Sean as an amalgamation of his passion for football coaching, mentoring, and brain-centred research.

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