Increase Your Soccer IQ

If you're struggling to become a better soccer player, the help you need could come from an unlikely place: study and observation.?By watching?games on TV, you can see all those drills and soccer techniques you do put into practice. By asking questions about certain techniques, you can find out if you have been applying them correctly to your game.

If you enjoy doing something, you don't just do it. You read about it, talk about it, and drive your friends and family crazy with it, all in an effort to get better. Become a better soccer player sooner by becoming a dedicated student of the game. Here's how to do it.

1) Watch games on television.

One of the best ways to learn something is to watch a professional doing it. Watch the games, but don't just watch them as a spectator. Watch the soccer techniques critically. Observe the attacking and defending strategies the players use. Look at how the team works together, and at what happens when they're less than a well-oiled unit.

Watch the great players. They all have something to give you, whether it's a lesson in how to be a better teammate or how to use those shots you've been practicing in a game situation. Take what they are offering and make it your own.

2) Hit the books.?

There are more than 400 non-fiction books about soccer on that include information on skills, techniques, fundamentals, tips, strategies and tactics. Do a little research to find out which soccer books would be best for you, and read them. There's a good chance you'll learn something you didn't know and you can start putting it into practice.

3) Discuss it.?

If you're having trouble with a certain soccer technique or want to talk about an offensive strategy, talk to your coaches or fellow players or seek out others who are as passionate about soccer as you are. Talking to somebody who doesn't love soccer as much as you do means they won't take the discussion?as seriously as you.

Also, go to the Internet to find like-minded people. The web allows niche groups to meet and discuss on blogs and forums, and it shouldn't be too hard to find a community of soccer enthusiasts.

Talk with them about systems of play, soccer tips and techniques, and offensive and defensive strategies. You'll get a broader perspective about what works in which situations, and they may bring up ideas and tactics that you hadn't previously considered.

4) Apply it.

All the study and observation in the world won't help you become a better player if you don't get out to practice and apply what you've learned. Practice your techniques daily in order to develop ball familiarity--where your body gets so used to the ball that it naturally adjusts to the ball being there. Juggle for 30 minutes?each day and kick the ball 500 times a day--250 times with each foot.

Studying, observation, discussion and practice are all important elements of becoming a better soccer player. By studying the game, watching it?and talking to others about it, you'll discover new ways of practicing that you may not have considered before. And when you combine those elements, you'll become a better, more well-rounded player.

Joey Bilotta is the vice president of EduKick, Inc., which offers cultural soccer exchange programs in countries around the world. Register now for their 2008 half-year soccer boarding schools by visiting

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