Every player wants to be as good as they possibly can and I’m sure it’s a dream for many of these players to make it in to the professional game.
But to reach the top, it takes years and years of devotion, practice, resilience and passion for the game.
It’s incredibly difficult due to the huge amount of players who want to be professional and, watching from the sidelines, or on the TV, we just don’t realise how good they are. Many a time, and I know I can be guilty of it, we can watch a game and criticise the performance of a player.
However, if we were to see these players up close, or potentially train with them, then we would be blown away at just how good they actually are.
So that leads me to a question that is asked quite often.
What makes the top players the very best? What sets them apart?
Which really is a great question.
Something that all players, who are striving to get better, should understand.
And the answer to it is consistency. Top players are consistent in everything they do and make less mistakes, even under a high amount of pressure.
As a younger player, I wouldn’t have thought that one of the most important things for a top player to have was consistency. I most likely would have presumed that the top players can do the special things that others can’t do; like a pass over forty-five yards that sets up a goalscoring chance, or scoring an absolute screamer of a shot that no-one else can attempt.
But, really, if you go and watch any game of football, players are capable of doing these things. I’ve seen some amazing goals on Sunday league pitches! But these are more of a one-off, and these players at levels lower than the professional game make more mistakes in their general play.
So, for top players, it’s all about consistency; consistency while playing at the highest of levels.
The top players are incredibly consistent. Ronaldo has remained consistent, at the highest levels, for nearly twenty years.
Firstly, their touch is excellent for the vast majority of the time. No matter the speed, height, trajectory, or spin on the ball, it is likely that they will be able to control the ball. Most players, no matter the level, are capable of doing this, but can they do it 95 times out of a 100 like the professionals?
That is very difficult but that is why they are a professional.
It’s not just their touch though. It’s their ability to strike the ball cleanly every time, whether that be a cross, pass, or shot. It’s rare that they slice a ball wildly off the pitch, although it does happen from time to time.
As I mentioned earlier, we can all criticise a professional when they make a mistake while we’re watching them on the TV but we’re only in a position to do so because their mistakes are obvious - obvious because they so rarely make them.
There are times where a player has brought the ball down, under control, with pressure, from great heights. The technique is sensational, yet it may not even be mentioned by the commentator.
Ten minutes later a ball rolls under the player’s foot and the inevitable sighs and criticisms are heard.
And the only reason we hear these are because players are consistent so, that when the mistake occurs it is very noticeable.
So if you’re a player looking to reach new levels of your game, or potentially make it to the top, it is so important to realise the importance of consistency. As you play at higher levels of the game the speed will increase, on and off the ball. Decision making becomes more important and you can only make those good decisions if you have a good technical command of the ball.
If the game is being played at a higher pace then the consistency becomes even more important.
Therefore, if you are looking to improve, it is important to keep working on the basics: your first touch, technical skills and ability on the ball.
The more that you practise the better that you will become in all of the fundamental areas of your game. To be consistent it’s about being as used to having the ball at your feet as much as possible, so that there are no problems or concerns when you get in these match situations.
Typically, the top players have practised more than anyone else, potentially much more.
So, to start working on becoming more consistent, it’s important to keep motivated in your training, continuing to work hard on your techniques so that when the time comes in a game you have consistency and quality.
If you do make a mistake, don’t worry, and don’t try to make up for it. Keep doing the simple things right and become consistent in all areas of your game.
Do that and you’ll start to rise through the levels of the game.