From Good to Great: The Habits of Elite Soccer Players

Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world, and millions admire elite soccer players. What sets them apart from everyone else? 

What makes an elite soccer player? Are they born with special gifts or can anyone reach that level through hard work and dedication? 

This article will explore what it takes to be an elite soccer player, delving into specific techniques and traits that elevate someone’s game to a higher plane.

Whether you’re just starting out as a beginner or have been playing for years, understanding what makes an elite soccer player can help improve your performance on the field. 

From physical conditioning to technical skill development, there are certain key elements necessary for athletes who want to become exceptional at their craft.

We’ll look at how diet, exercise regimens, mental discipline and training drills all play a role in helping aspiring players reach peak performance levels.

Finally, we’ll examine some of the best tips and strategies used by professional players so you too can learn how to maximise your potential and take your skills up a notch. 

So let’s get started on exploring what makes an elite soccer player!

The Physical Attributes Of Elite Soccer Player

Physical attributes are an important component of any elite soccer player’s success.

Agility, speed, strength, and stamina are all essential components that contribute to a successful performance on the field. 

It is impossible for players to perform at their highest level without having these qualities in abundance. Read my article –Football Fitness and the Facts you need to know

Physically speaking, an elite soccer player must have power behind his shots and passes while also being able to move quickly across the pitch. They need to be able to jump higher than their opponents and possess a high degree of coordination as well.

Having great physicality isn’t enough though; it has to be complemented by superb technical skill too. An elite soccer player must understand the game inside out and be able to make quick decisions with both feet as well as his head. 

They should be comfortable receiving balls from any angle or distance and then making accurate passes almost immediately afterwards. This requires immense technique but when performed correctly can give teams the upper hand during matches.

The combination of exceptional physical attributes and top-tier technical abilities creates an unbeatable package which makes elite soccer players stand out from other competitors. 

With these two elements working together seamlessly, every touch of the ball becomes an opportunity for greatness – something that even amateur players strive for in their own games. 

Moving forward into examining how ‘the technical skills of an elite soccer player’ influence performances will further illustrate this point.

The Technical Skills Of An Elite Soccer Player

Question: How can a soccer player’s technical skills make them elite?

Answer: Technical skills are the foundation of an elite soccer player’s ability. With these skills, they have the potential to be successful and rise above others on their team.

Technical skill is developed through practice and repetition of drills that focus on control, passing accuracy, shooting accuracy, dribbling speed and agility. 

The more skilled you become in each area, the faster your play will become and the better decisions you’ll make in game situations. For example, a good first touch allows players to receive passes quickly and accurately before opponents arrive or while under pressure from defenders. 

Additionally, having excellent ball control enables quick changes of direction when needed; this helps separate great players from average ones during tight moments in games.

Strong technical abilities require constant work as there’s always room for improvement—even at the highest levels of professional soccer. 

Players need to analyse how they perform technically throughout training sessions as well as matches and set goals for themselves to improve certain aspects of their gameplay over time. 

Although it takes dedication and commitment to get to a high level of technical proficiency, with hard work comes large rewards!

Achieving strong technical skills is essential if one wants to reach the top tier of soccer performance – now let’s look into what tactical knowledge helps bring an elite player up another notch…

The Tactical Knowledge Of An Elite Soccer Player

Tactical knowledge is like a chess master’s intuition – an elite soccer player must always think two steps ahead of their opponents.

Knowing the game inside and out, they can anticipate how to move in order to gain an advantage over the other team:

• Anticipate where passes will go

• Read how defenders are positioning themselves

• Know when it’s time to switch strategies or formations

• Recognise patterns in the field

Having this deep understanding of the game allows an elite soccer player to recognize opportunities that regular players may not notice. 

They act quickly and decisively, knowing exactly which play would be most beneficial for them and their team. This level of skill requires much practice, as well as keen observation during matches. 

When you watch an elite soccer player in action, you’ll see someone who calculates every action with precision – even those made by their opponents – allowing no room for errors.

The mental acuity required for tactical expertise makes it one of the essential components of being an excellent soccer player. 

With advanced tactics comes better decision-making and strategic planning, leading to more success on the field. It takes both strong technical skills combined with sharp tactical knowledge to make a truly elite soccer player.

The Mental Characteristics Of An Elite Soccer Player

Every sport requires a certain level of mental strength and soccer is no different. As the saying goes, “it’s 90% mental” – and it couldn’t be truer for elite players. 

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, an elite soccer player needs to possess specific characteristics in order to reach the top. 

Let’s take a closer look at these qualities that make up the mind of an elite player.

The most important trait for any athlete is confidence; this quality sets apart great athletes from good ones. 

An elite soccer player will have faith in their abilities and won’t be easily discouraged by mistakes or setbacks – they’ll use them as fuel to get better rather than letting them affect their game negatively. 

They should also be willing to learn new techniques, strategies and skills while being open-minded about the feedback given by coaches and teammates alike. 

This kind of growth mindset will help them stay ahead of the competition, even when playing against stronger opponents.

Having determination, perseverance and resilience are essential elements all successful athletes must possess if they want to rise above average performance levels. 

During tough times, such as injuries or losses, elite soccer player needs to draw on inner resources to keep pushing themselves towards success – never giving up until victory is achieved! 

Self-discipline too plays an integral role here; having a focus on short-term goals with long-term vision can help maximise potential which can elevate individual play into something extraordinary.

All these traits come together like cogs in a machine – spinning around each other effortlessly but interlocking firmly so that nothing falls apart under pressure. 

It takes immense willpower and dedication for one person to achieve greatness without sacrificing their values along the way – yet only those who have experienced failure know what true success tastes like! 

With that said we now turn our attention towards understanding the psychological qualities needed for becoming an elite soccer player…

The Psychological Qualities Of An Elite Soccer Player

A true elite soccer player is an extremely rare breed. It’s not just about being able to kick a ball hard and run fast, it takes more than that to make it at the highest level. 

What sets them apart from the rest are their psychological qualities; traits like confidence, resilience, determination and self-belief all come together to create an unbeatable combination of mental strength.

It seems almost impossible for any one person to possess such attributes but those who do, have something special going on in between their ears! Please read my other articles on Mental Toughness and Resiliency for more information.

Alongside these highly desirable characteristics, they must also be prepared to deal with pressure and understand how best to channel their emotions when playing in front of thousands of fans or under the intense scrutiny of TV cameras. 

A good attitude towards training and teammates will only add fuel to this already impressive fire, making sure there’s no room for complacency in their game.

These players don’t become successful overnight though – becoming an elite soccer player requires dedication and sacrifice over many years, often starting as early as childhood. 

They need to develop a strong set of values which keep them grounded despite reaching the top levels of success.

Without humility and respect, even the most talented individuals can quickly fall from grace if they fail to maintain healthy relationships with coaches, teammates and opponents alike.

The ingredients for greatness may sound simple enough but actually achieving such high levels is anything but easy.

So much time has been devoted by coaches, psychologists and athletes themselves to studying what makes an excellent soccer player tick. 

There’s definitely no magic formula but understanding what goes into creating a star performer could give you the edge over your competition!

Frequently Asked Questions

As an ex-professional soccer player myself, a coach and a coach educator I get asked a lot of questions by players of all levels so I’ve added some of the more common ones below.

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What Type Of Diet Should An Elite Soccer Player Have?

When it comes to being an elite soccer player, diet can be as important as training. Many people may think that working out and practising drills is the only way to excel in this sport, but what they eat can have a huge impact on their performance. 

While having a balanced diet with plenty of nutritious foods is always recommended, there are certain things that an elite soccer player should focus on when crafting their menu.  For more detail read my article – Why is Good Nutrition Important in Football?

Firstly, carbohydrates should make up around 50-60% of their daily calories. This is because carbs provide energy for intense physical activities such as running or sprinting. 

Eating complex carbs like wholegrain bread and oats will help keep your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day so you don’t crash during matches or practice sessions. 

Protein should also be included in their meals; it helps build muscle mass which increases strength and endurance while playing. Lean meats like chicken breast and fish are great sources of protein, as well as tofu for vegan athletes.

Fats play an essential role too: choosing healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, olives, avocados and olive oil ensures muscles receive enough fuel to perform at maximum capacity. 

Hydration is key – drinking water before, during and after games helps maintain body temperature and keeps players energised throughout the match. 

Plus electrolytes from sports drinks can replace those lost through sweat due to strenuous activity. For a more detailed article read – Hydration in Football – what you need to know

Finally, vitamins A & C found in fruits and vegetables are needed for optimal health – eating them aids recovery times after tough training sessions or games. For further information read my article Best Supplements for Football Players

In short, understanding how nutrition affects performance is vital for any aspiring athlete looking to reach the top level of football competition. 

Making sure they consume enough macronutrients (carbs/fats/protein) plus vitamins and minerals through whole foods will ensure they stay fit and ready whenever called upon!

What Is The Best Way To Stay Injury Free In Soccer?

In the world of soccer, staying injury free can make all the difference between a team’s success or failure. 

It takes an elite player to understand how best to stay healthy and on top of their game in order to ensure that they remain at peak performance levels. 

Just as any great athlete knows, it takes more than just strength and agility to be successful; you need technique and discipline too.

Staying fit means committing to a healthy lifestyle both on and off the field. This includes eating nutritious meals, getting adequate sleep, stretching before practices and games, warming up properly, maintaining proper hydration levels throughout physical activity, wearing protective gear when playing, cooling down after each practice/game session and taking breaks from training sessions if needed. 

Additionally, players must also focus on strengthening core muscles and using proper body mechanics while running or performing drills in order to avoid injuries like ACL tears or ankle sprains.

Having knowledge of safe techniques for tackling opponents is essential as well – two-footed sliding tackles should be avoided altogether in favour of safer one-foot takedowns instead. 

Additionally, players should always be mindful of where their bodies are in relation to other players during play so that they do not end up colliding with another person unexpectedly. 

With these simple yet effective tips in mind – along with regular checkups by medical professionals – elite soccer players can potentially keep themselves safe from harm on the pitch which will ultimately help them reach new heights in their careers.

How Important Is Rest And Recovery For An Elite Soccer Player?

Rest and recovery for an elite soccer player are essential, almost like a superpower! Without proper rest and recovery strategies, even the most talented players can fall short of their goals. 

It’s so important that it should be one of the primary focuses when creating any training plan – because no matter how good your skills are or how many hours you spend on the pitch if you don’t have adequate rest and recovery time, you won’t perform at an optimal level.

A great way to stay injury free while playing soccer is by allowing yourself ample time to recover between sessions. This means giving your body enough opportunity to repair itself after intense workouts. 

During this period of rest, muscles get stronger and conditioned as they rebuild themselves from being worked out in practice. 

Likewise, focusing on nutrition during these periods is crucial; eating nutrient-rich foods helps provide the energy needed for games and practices while helping keep your immune system healthy so that muscle tears and other injuries become less likely.

It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of rest and recovery for peak performance in soccer. Players need sufficient sleep each night as well as breaks throughout the day in order to remain energized and focused on their gameplay. 

The bottom line: quality downtime not only keeps players safe from harm but also boosts physical and mental productivity – two key ingredients for success in soccer.


Elite soccer players Christiano Ronaldo playing for portugal

The combination of physical, technical, tactical, mental and psychological attributes is what makes an elite soccer player. 

Physically they must have strength, speed and agility to outrun their opponents and take control of the game. 

Technically they need exceptional ball skills and a good understanding of the basic techniques required in the game. 

Tactically they should be able to read the game well, anticipate opponent moves and understand team tactics. 

Mentally they need focus, dedication and commitment to reach the top level. 

Finally, psychologically these players must possess qualities such as resilience, confidence and composure when under pressure, enabling them to remain composed no matter how tough the situation may seem.

In short, a successful soccer player requires all of these components to work together if they want to become one of the greats. 

Elite Soccer Players Lionel Messi wearing a Barcelona shirt on a gold background

Achieving excellence takes hard work, determination and perseverance; it’s not something that can be learned overnight or even achieved with natural talent alone. 

To truly become an elite soccer player you must combine all five elements mentioned above: physicality, technique, tactics knowledge, mental characteristics and psychological qualities – only then will you have what it takes to stand out from your peers on the pitch.


If you enjoyed this article and have any questions or comments or wish to share your thoughts.
Please leave them in the comments box and I will respond once I get the chance.

2 thoughts on “From Good to Great: The Habits of Elite Soccer Players”

  1. I completely agree with your statement that athletes should be willing to learn new techniques, strategies, and skills to improve their game. In the competitive world of sports, stagnation is not an option. Athletes who are resistant to change risk falling behind and losing their edge.

    Moreover, the ability to adapt to new challenges and continuously improve is a hallmark of successful athletes. The best athletes are those who are not satisfied with their current level of performance and are constantly striving to get better. By embracing new techniques, strategies, and skills, athletes can unlock new levels of potential and achieve even greater success.

    • Thank you for your comments and I’m glad you agree it makes the articles worthwhile. I totally agree with everything you mentioned regarding the successes of athletes and how it can be achieved


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