Top 10 Skills to Make You A Better Soccer Player

Coach and former pro player Steven Taylor showing some basic footwork drills.

Soccer may seem like a simple game: getting the ball into a goal to score a point.  But, obviously anyone who plays it knows there’s a lot more to it, and plenty of skills that need to be refined before you get good at it.

Soccer coach Steven Taylor is also now the captain of the Wellington Phoenix team in New Zealand, and listed on Sportamix. He offered some advice about getting better in the game, suggesting, “What I look for in a good coach is how they deal with the players, how they communicate.”

He said the training sessions must keep high standards and never drop from those high standards.

“Playing for local teams when you’re a kid is important,” Taylor says. “You play games out in a park or a field with your friends you have to enjoy what you do. I was very lucky to have a dad who took me to every home game to watch the team I love and very lucky to play for Newcastle United.”

He lived his dream, leaving school at 16 to play professional soccer for his hometown club, Newcastle United.

“I lived the dream, playing for my hometown club. Once a ball boy and then suddenly walking out in front of 52,000 fans,” Taylor recalls.

He played in Wellington for the Australian A League, won the championship for Newcastle United, and played with the Portland Timbers, in the Major League Soccer with the Ipswich Town, Peterborough United and Wellington Phoenix.

 “I left school at 16 to go straight into Newcastle United’s reserve team missing out uni and the academy and training with first team every day,” Taylor says. “I had the drive to want to play for my hometown team Newcastle United and got the support from my close circle of friends and family.”

Professional Soccer Player Steven Taylor
Steve Taylor worked hard to live his dream playing for his home soccer team.

“The most important skills in soccer for myself have been leadership skills and working with teammates because you can’t play in a game by yourself, you need to your team,” Taylor says. “I’ve got to where I’ve got to today through hard work and having a very close circle of friends and family helping me achieve what I’ve achieved.”

Here are 10 of the fundamental skills you need to develop in order to play good soccer. 

1. Passing

You have to use both your feet in a coordinated effort to send the ball to a desired destination, and sending the ball straight. This includes crossing the ball in front of a net, shooting accurately, and being adept at the skills with both feet.

According to soccer coach Dylan Tooby (see video), passing is the most important skill in the game of soccer. It is the way you advance the ball to the goal, and it is important to act as a team together rather than acting alone on the field.

2. Receiving 

The second most important skill after passing is receiving. Getting the ball successfully from one teammate to another is the only way to advance the ball and to score.

You have to learn how to control the ball coming at you at all speeds, and figure out how to maintain control of the ball. It also includes getting the ball from an interception.

Steven Taylor trains in Dubai. Running is key for soccer players.

3. Trapping

Not the same as receiving, when you trap a ball, it is when you receive the ball and then stand still. This is a skill that takes coordination with both feet, and it has to be mastered so you don’t lose control of the ball. (See the video below)

4. Dribbling

This is the way to pass the ball to get around an opponent. Dribbling is not just about performing tricks with the ball, but it’s a way you can keep control of the ball without losing it to an aggressive opponent. It’s important to learn how to move the ball in every direction.

Young soccer player dribbling around a defender

5. Shooting

Once you get the ball, shooting accurately is important to score a goal. It’s not always about power, it’s about being precise and accurate. Plant one foot close to the ball, up to about 4 inches away, and then kick with the other foot with the instep of the foot (the side of the foot). (See the video below)

6. Precision

You need to know how your feet can control the ball to get it to where you want to go. This means using every part of your foot, and even other parts of your leg. You have to know how to manipulate the ball with different parts of your foot, and know where you want the ball to go.

7.  Control

Ball control not only means the player’s ability to get the ball, but how to keep it. All parts of the body is used in developing these skills, including the chest, head, feet and legs. It’s also about keeping the the ball close to your body as much as possible. This takes balance and coordination.

Kids passing a soccer ball

8. Strategy

You have to know the game well. Watch other players and you may pick up tips about how they manipulate the ball and approach the goal. You have to make smart and instant decisions, and part of that is learning all the rules of the game and following them closely.

There is geometry used in the game. You have to understand the space of the field and the corners. Learn how to keep possession of the ball, and teach teammates how to do it as well, (see the video below).

9.  Speed

This involves fitness. Get into shape, and run real hard — a lot. Soccer is a game of stamina, and being in shape is important. You are on your feet for more than 90 minutes and constantly moving.

This also means making quick decisions as the situation changes constantly. Weaving the ball through opponents and getting the ball to the goal requires speed, and quick thinking.

10. Motivation

Being excited about playing the game is also important. Watch good players playing good games, and see what they do. Emulate the best, and model your game and strategy after that.

Enthusiasm spreads through the rest of the team, and it also makes a coach want to train you toward your best potential.

“I train hard everyday and I’m very lucky to have Kilogear Cut to help me with my training and recovery and nutrition plan which helps me maintain and keep my high standards in training on and off the field,” says Coach Taylor.

“My best advice for young people getting into the game is you’ve got to enjoy what you do and keep practicing,” Taylor says. “It’s what you do off the pitch, and it’s working on different skills that will improve you.”

Coach Steven Taylor and his soccer success.