What is more important? Typically, you can see players that may rely on one or the other; some blessed with a natural ability to run with lightning pace, whereas others may seem more comfortable at having the ball close to their feet more regularly.
But is there one that is more important? Is it more important to have the physical capabilities to sprint past an opponent, or is the technical side of the game more important?
It’s an interesting question and personally I believe that both have a huge part to play within the game.
The difference for me, however, is that you can be quick and strong with great physical capabilities, but if you aren’t quick or strong, you definitely need great technical abilities. So the technical side of things is incredibly important, for all players.
And I feel that sometimes this gets forgotten about.
At the young ages especially, you want to make sure that technical ability is first and foremost. Players who are big and strong will usually dominate, but all players, even these big and strong individuals, need to be technically proficient on the ball.
How many times have we seen a young player who dominates the matches they play in because of their size, speed and strength? Quite regularly. But as they get older, and other players who may begin to develop at their own rate, catch up, they seem to lose that influence.
This happens often and it is important that all players develop their technically ability and don’t just rely on how much of an influence they can make due to their physical prowess.
One who I think is a great example of this is Kyle Walker at Manchester City. His speed is absolutely fantastic, with not many other players being able to out run him. But, that hasn’t meant that he’s forgotten about the technical side of the game. His crossing and passing are good and he can also strike a ball very well.
Kyle Walker, incredibly fast, but also very good technically.
But, on the other hand, I feel that a player, such as Adama Traore at Wolves, has focused too much on his physical side. His speed is amazing, as is his strength and ability to hold the ball away from opponents putting him under pressure. But, I don’t feel that he has the technical quality, at the moment, that would elevate him to be a leading winger in the Premier League. His crossing and finishing can be erratic, with a disappointing end product at times, although he does have an unbelievable amount of potential. But has Traore focused so much on his physical ability, aiming to become stronger and more powerful than before? Probably, which by the looks of it, could mean that he has spent less time on the ball.
And that is the interesting thing: should he be spending more time developing the technical ability rather than the physical?
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer; it all comes down to the player’s preference. But if you are a young player who is looking to reach new levels of the game, and influence the matches you play in, then it is my belief that focusing on the technical aspects will help you more in the long term.
But what you must remember is that you play to your strengths. If you’re a player who has bags of pace, then use it as much as you can, but don’t forget the dribbling, first touch and close control of the ball. If you can combine the physical capabilities with improved technical abilities then you will be a much more improved and valuable player.
Don’t get in the habit of thinking that you are quicker and stronger than others so you don’t need to practise the technical side of the game. You must remember that there will always be someone out there who is as quick or as strong as you. When you come up against that player, what will set you apart?
The answer to that is the technical.
In the Premier League, players have an amazing combination of the two. Their technical ability would blow us away, but their physical capabilities would also amaze us. However, in my opinion, it is much easier to develop the technical side of your game, than the physical.
If you’re someone who isn’t blessed with great pace, then you will be able to improve it, but you’re not going to become ridiculously fast through training. However, you can practise hugely on your technique and become better than others through the doggedness and determination to improve your game.
So, this is where I believe that you should play to your strengths. Use your speed and explosive power to gain the advantage, but always remember to continue working on developing your technical abilities.
If you’re a player who isn’t the most physical, or quickest, then you can work on improving that area of your game, but don’t obsess over it. The area that you can improve the most is the technical side.
Football is highly competitive and you have to play to your strengths. Ideally, we would all be able to sprint 100 metres in 11 seconds and have great physical attributes, and you’ll come across more players like this as you progress.
But make sure you never leave the technical side of your game behind. It is just as important as the physical prowess and there is a place for everyone who is highly technical. Just look at the Barcelona legends of Messi, Iniesta, and Xavi, all players who don’t have a physical presence. But they have a technical presence that intimidates players even more than a physical presence.
The physical is amazing, as is the technical, but no matter what area of your game you excel in, there is still always room to improve your technical ability. Even the very best in the world continue to do this.
So keep training as much as you can with the ball at your feet, and develop your game, whether you’re strong and powerful, or not. It’s all about getting better in the areas of the game where you can influence it the most, and being good on the ball is always involved in those areas.