Soccer 4 n00bs: The secret to footballer’s fancy footwork

Imagine slowing down a football match and singling out one player, focusing on their performance.

Picture the sweat that sops down their forehead, a soaked mop of hair that bounces with the rhythm of a sprinting body, calf muscles that clench and release, clench and release, and muscled arms that swing beside a body that is pushing itself to the limit.

There’s a beautiful wonder in watching athletes perform. It’s meditative and seductive and stirs an aching to be that good; that fast and that clever in play. How do the professionals learn to be so gosh darn brilliant?

Soccer is a running game and running is a science. Lab coats on everyone; today’s a day for learning.

Endurance
STATS is an American company that uses motion-tracking technology to gather player statistics from all kinds of sports. They’ve discovered that the average footballer runs between 11 and 15 kilometres a game, with goalkeepers an obvious exception. That’s some serious mileage.

Technique
Running in sprints and running in football are two different things. The latter demands rapid shifts in direction, acceleration and contact with the ball or other players. A more efficient running technique saves players valuable energy and helps avoid injury. The three basic tenants? Lean forward, drive your knees up and swing your arms opposite of each other and each leg.

Styles
As magical as the feeling of a good hard sprint is, it’s not viable for 90 minutes of play. Players are conditioned to run differently for their various roles in the game – jogging helps maintain energy and keep position; acceleration helps players “punch and drive” for the ball. Don’t dismiss a good backpedal, it’s mighty useful in defence.

Footwear
There is no such thing as simple boots these days – there’s firm ground, soft ground, pro ground, hybrid studded, artificial grass, indoor, training and lifestyle cleats, some designed for defenders, others for strikers and goalies, and many other names for each of them, just in case you were looking for an easy purchase.

The Pros
Many professional footballers might wear in a boot naturally during training so it’s perfectly moulded to the foot ready for matches. Others might have their boots broken in by an oven-like machine that softens the leather and the glue to the shape of their feet. If you plan on playing for England anytime soon, they’ll also embroider a little English logo on the heel for that extra special touch.

Chin Up
It’s not just because they’re mildly handsome that Ronaldo and Messi keep their head up when they’re running. They’re watching what’s happening in the game, ya n00b!

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mm
A 20 year old Media and Law student trying to tame those stream-of-consciousness writing habits with an ickle bit of fun at the Central Coast Mariners.