Every soccer player hopes to become a better player and progress in their skills. If you are genuinely competitive and want to see fast results, you set yourself weekly, monthly, and yearly targets you can tackle through practice and training.
Sadly, there is no set-in-stone formula on how to get better at soccer in a month or even a year. However, there are proven strategies the greats have followed and those all boil down to hard work and consistency.
And, if you listen to a successful soccer player in an interview, they will always talk about some kind of adversity that had to endure and overcome, which ultimately made them a better player. They all had to leave their comfort zone to grow into the great soccer players they became.
The trouble is leaving your comfort zone in the first place; the first hurdle is the hardest. This is something that I have observed which is a massive problem in youth soccer these days, and it’s something that most coaches either don’t understand or don’t seem to particularly care about since they allow it to happen all of the time.
|Tip For Coaches: Coddling players keep them stagnant.|
Each individual will have different barriers that govern their comfort zone, so it is not easy to describe. However, one thing which is common within most player’s stuck in their comfort zone is that they enjoy competing with and against players whom they feel they will be better than.
Players in a comfort zone love the reassuring feeling of ego-boosting battles. They are not so quick to engage in something that might result in them being embarrassed.
Of course, wanting to win is not a bad thing – but if you are only a winner within your comfort zone, how much of a winner are you really? How much can you improve? Because when you take up that mentality, you have told yourself that you are the best, despite only being the best at your current level and against people at a lower level than you.
Unfortunately, this prevents players from being forced to get better by adapting to challenges in order to compete. It is easy to become so obsessed with winning that you don’t allow yourself to play against teams and players that will force you to get better.
Whenever I hear coaches talking about their won-loss record, I start to wonder whom they are competing with. Are they playing the best competition out there or just playing against teams they are confident they can beat? I can think of one region championship team who had a surprisingly poor won-loss record considering their level of play (I actually don’t know what their record was because I don’t keep records like that but I do know they lost more than people would have expected).
Did they lose because of poor performance? No. Actually, they were a group of very consistent performers. They had so many losses because they played in as many major tournaments as possible and played as many high-level friendly get-togethers as possible.
Of course, parents and supporters will not be happy after witnessing these losses against older teams, but luckily, keeping people happy is not your concern (or shouldn’t be). Your concern should be with getting better, getting out of your comfort zone and getting the experience required to become the best soccer player you can be.
There are other ways to force yourself out of your comfort zone, or if you are a coach hoping to bring your players out of theirs, keep reading.
You see, you don’t need to travel all around the world in search of competition to force your players to improve. You can recreate the pressure required to naturally spur on this process another way.
Increase The Pressure
Remember, in soccer, pressure is defined as the absence of space and time. You can increase pressure by reducing the amount of space used for small-sided games or by increasing the number of players in the same small-sided games. Do this, of course, while demanding the quality of the play remain the same.
It is not hard to decrease the space nor increase the numbers of players in the game, but both are useless if you are not willing to demand the high-quality remain consistent.
Some players will take a longer time adjusting to the increase in pressure. However, you should still be able to adapt and improve with the proper consistency and motivation.
Stop Apologizing And Do Better Next Time.
If you make a mistake on the soccer field, try to condition yourself out of automatically saying sorry or anything like that. While it is always nice to acknowledge and take accountability for your mistake, it is so much more important to actually do something about the mistake to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
While this might seem very simplistic, and it would be easy to assume that in saying that, they know you actually mean “it won’t happen again”, you show something different by making the same mistake over and over again. There is nothing wrong with demanding that things be done correctly every time, and until we do this, we will achieve our full potential.
In summary, by decreasing space, decreasing time and striving for perfection, you can break down the barriers of your comfort zone and force yourself to get better at soccer in a quicker time period.
Likewise, if you are a coach and are not forcing your players out of their comfort zone, you will never achieve the highest level of play they are capable of competing at.
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