Not every soccer player needs to practice on their own time but if you want to excel and accelerate your game, you should. It simply comes down to basic human behavior. The more time and effort you put into something, the better you will be. What also comes with it is a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and more passion for the game.
Here’s a real world example I keep seeing in youth soccer…
- Player A is more developed and has a better shot at age 10 compared to Player B.
- At age 12, Player A and B are very similar players because Player B has physically caught up to Player A.
- Each player works very hard at practice but Player B is constantly outside kicking a ball around while Player A enjoys Fortnite.
- At age 14, Player A starts losing interest in soccer because they’d rather do other things (i.e. – video games, chill, etc.). Player B keeps seeing improvements and continues to practice soccer.
- Player A just wants to play rec soccer while Player B becomes an important player of their club team.
- Both scenarios work for the individual. It’s just a matter of what you want.
While team practices are crucial, they may not provide you with enough time to work on your individual skills. That’s why practicing at home is so important. By practicing at home, you can focus on the specific skills you need to improve, and you can do it at your own pace.
In this article, I will try to make a strong case for practicing at home. This is for the players who want to get better and open up more opportunities down the road. Now let’s get to it!
Develop a Love For Getting Better
By practicing at home, you can develop a love for getting better. This is an important character trait if you want to become the best possible version of yourself.
When you have the time and space to work on your skills and see improvement, it can be incredibly rewarding. You can track your progress and see how far you’ve come, which can be a great motivator to keep practicing.
From my personal experience in youth soccer, the kids who develop a love for the game will naturally push themselves at home, in team practices, and games. They will consistently improve because they simply love playing. These reap a lot of benefits over their playing years.
Practicing soccer at home isn’t about the IG highlights or the oohs and ahhs, it’s about consistent improvement.
Reps Over Perfection
While it’s great to strive for perfection, focusing solely on getting everything right can actually hinder your progress. Instead, it’s important to prioritize getting in as many reps as possible, even if they aren’t perfect. Just make progress, no matter how small it might seem.
One way to do this is to practice at home. By setting up a small space in your home where you can practice your skills, you’ll be able to get in more reps than you would if you only practiced during team practices or games. This will allow you to improve your skills more quickly and efficiently.
Another benefit of practicing at home is that you can focus on specific areas of your game that need improvement. For example, if you struggle with dribbling, you can set up a cone drill in your backyard and focus solely on improving your dribbling skills. By focusing on specific areas of your game, you’ll be able to improve more quickly and effectively.
Do you need to work on your touches? Use a soccer rebounder and pass back and forth 50 times every day.
When you put in the “boring” reps, your setting a better foundation to build your skills on top of!
Fundamentals of Home Practice
Here are some fundamental aspects of home practice that you should keep in mind.
Technical Skills Enhancement
The most important thing to keep in mind while practicing technical skills at home is K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid). You don’t need to copy the shiny Instagram vids. Keep it basic so that you can get your reps in!
Here are some examples of technical skills that you can work on at home:
- Dribbling: Set up cones or other obstacles in your backyard and practice dribbling around them. This will help you improve your ball control and footwork.
- Passing: Find a wall or rebounder and practice passing the ball against it. This will help you improve your accuracy and power.
- Shooting: Set up a goal or target and practice shooting. This will help you improve your aim and power. Sticking a little sibling in the net is helpful!
By practicing these skills at home, you can improve your overall performance on the field.
Physical Fitness Maintenance
Here are some examples of physical fitness exercises that you can do at home:
- Cardio: Go for a light run or bike ride around your neighborhood. This will help you improve your endurance and stamina.
- Strength Training: Do bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, and lunges. This will help you improve your strength and power.
- Agility Training: Set up cones or other obstacles in your backyard and practice agility drills. This will help you improve your speed and agility.
By incorporating these exercises into your home practice routine, you can maintain your physical fitness and improve your overall performance on the field.
Strategies for Effective Home Training
It can be difficult to get outside when there’s not a coach to hold you accountable. And, let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t feel like playing. Here are some effective strategies for making the most out of your home training sessions.
Creating a Loose Schedule
One of the biggest challenges of practicing at home is staying motivated and disciplined. To combat this, it can be helpful to create a loose schedule or routine for yourself. This doesn’t have to be set in stone, but having a general idea of when you’ll be practicing and what you’ll be working on can help you stay on track.
For example, block out three days a week after school to practice for 15 minutes. Those 15 minutes will usually turn into more but a small number doesn’t seem like a chore.
Utilizing Limited Space Wisely
Another challenge of practicing at home is often limited space. However, with a little creativity, you can make the most out of even a small area. Consider setting up cones or markers to practice dribbling, or using a wall to work on passing and receiving.
You can also go to a school that has any type of field! Don’t let your environment hold you back.
Incorporating Varied Drills
Try your best to keep your training sessions fresh and new by varying what you do. This can include ball control drills, passing and receiving drills, shooting drills, and more.
You can also mix things up by practicing different types of shots, such as volleys or chips, or by focusing on specific skills like speed or agility.
Lastly, add a little music to your sessions!
Psychological Benefits of Practicing On Your Own
Practicing soccer at home can have numerous psychological benefits for players. Here are a few of them:
I touched on this above but when you practice soccer at home, you are taking control of your own development as a player. This can help build self-motivation and a sense of responsibility for your own progress.
By setting goals and working towards them on your own, you can develop a stronger sense of self-efficacy and confidence in your abilities.
This sense of self-reliance and motivation will not only help you become a better player, but it will also help you in all aspects of life!
Reducing Performance Anxiety
Practicing at home can also help reduce performance anxiety. When you practice in a familiar environment, you may feel more relaxed and less self-conscious than you would in a public setting. This can help you focus on your technique and develop your skills without the pressure of performing in front of others.
For some kids, this can be instrumental in their growth.
To reduce performance anxiety, try to create a comfortable and supportive environment for yourself at home. Set up a designated training area that is free from distractions and interruptions.
As a parent and coach, I’m a huge fan of rewarding effort over the outcome. My oldest is 14 now but when he was younger, I would make it a point to compliment him after he was outside practicing. I could see it on his face that he was proud of himself.
Like anything in life, players who continue to work on their craft will become the best versions of themselves.
So, my practical advice is to enjoy the process and prioritize effort over perfection!