I have been watching football since 2002. My dad got cable TV to watch the world cup in the summer but forgot to disconnect after that. I have been playing Fifa since FIFA 2000. One thing I never did though was learn to play football well. Do deep into the tactics as well as develop the stamina and skills to play football on a regular basis

2020 is the year I hope to change that

So, how do you learn how to play football?

Like, most things I have learned in life earlier, I plan to break learning Football into mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive components and over the course of a year improve myself to a level where my first touch does not cause a collective groan from my entire team :)

Here is how I have broken my program

  • Pre game
    • Fitness
      • Speed
      • Agility
      • Acceleration
      • Strength
      • Endurance
    • Improving ball control
      • Juggling
      • First touch exercises
    • General game tips
  • In game
    • Tactics
      • Team tactics
      • Position tactics
    • Stretching
    • General awareness
    • Positioning
    • Set plays
      • Free kicks
      • Corners
    • First touch
      • First touch on short pass
      • First touch on long cross
    • Dribbling
      • Close control dribbling
    • 1 v 1
      • 1 v 1 in attacking space
      • 1 v 1 in other areas
    • Passing
      • Short passes
      • Through balls
    • Shooting
    • Attacking
    • Defending
    • Wing play
    • Midfield play
    • Goalkeeping
    • Crossing
    • Skill moves
  • Post game
    • Cool down
    • Feedback from teammates
    • Game analysis

Collection of tips based on browsing r/bootroom, youtube videos, watching top players play, talking to my teammates

Fitness

  • Speed
    • Use speed ladder to train. Check out the all attack video. Do the 9 point challenge
    • Stay on front of your feet as you run on the speed ladder
  • Agility
  • Acceleration
  • Strength
  • Endurance
    • You tire when you are not able to use oxygen fast enough
    • How to improve?
      • Distance running. Run several miles daily
      • Field running. Run laps around a football field

Basic Juggling

  • Use hands when first learning
  • Every juggle, catch using your hand
  • When increase the number of touches until you are comfortable
  • Use both feet to juggle
  • To prevent the ball from getting away, use backspin
  • Improve weak foot. Increase number of juggles with weak foot
  • Go hands free
  • Use other parts of the lower body
  • Move to upper body control

Advanced juggling exercises

  • Juggle with a tennis ball once you learn basic juggling

Pre game

  • Do the Progressive soccer warm up Routine

General in game tips

  • Always look up. Don’t look down on the ball
  • Be aware of your team mates as well as opponents. Keep scanning the pitch all the time
  • Have a plan. Think ahead. What will you do once you have the ball?
  • Make yourself available to get a pass or track back. Don’t go hiding
  • Don’t always go for glory. Try the hero pass. Make a simple pass most of the times. Else no one will give you the ball as you will lose it often
  • Be a team player
  • Face the goal you are attacking when you receive the ball. Don’t keep looking at your own net
  • Know the role and tactics of the team. Have specific models in place to make decision making easier
  • In midfield know when to slow down the game and when to make the hero tackle
  • Communicate with your partner (mostly the person on the same wing) who goes, and who stays
  • Be on your toes
  • Focus on breathing

First touch

  • Use inside of the foot mostly. Can also use: outside of the foot, laces/top of the foot, sole, thigh, and chest. When using top of foot, put body underneath and lower the foot too. When using thigh, take the thigh away to cushion the ball
  • Drag ball back/make your body away from the ball so that the ball velocity is reduced. Keep foot parallel to the ball. Don’t keep the ball rigid
  • Cushion the ball. Imagine you are handling a delicate egg shell
  • Don’t try to meet the ball. Let the ball come to you
  • Adjust your body and turn in the direction you want to go

Long pass control first touch

  • Be on your toes so that you can adjust your movement based on flight of the ball
  • Lower center of gravity for enhanced balance
  • Control with top of the foot near the toes
  • Put foot away upon contact to absorb the impact

Advanced first touch tips

  • Use 3 stripes on the inside of the foot as it has most surface area
  • Keep the ball on the move by meeting it at 45 degrees

Shooting

  • Have runup to generate momentum. Take atleast 5-6 big steps/strides. Chest should be leaning forward
  • Planting foot should be 6 inches beside the ball and the planting/standing foot should point exactly towards where you want to hit. Kicking foot will then follow through in the same direction
  • Standing leg should have a slight bent to help you with balance
  • Raise left arm as high as possible. As you strike the arm should come down back across your body. It will generate more power
  • The middle of the ball should have an imaginary line to the area of the goal you want to hot
  • Hit just slightly below the center of the ball
  • Strike with the instep of the foot. Basically top left middle area, just below the laces
  • The more the back swing of the leg the more power you generate. Think of a golf swing. Crouch over a bit as you hit
  • When you follow through after hitting, make sure the leg follow the target
  • Give max follow through. Come off your standing foot and land on your shooting foot

Ball control/ Skill moves

  • In smaller courts use inside of the foot and the sole to keep close control

Ball mastery drills

  • Inside inside/ Bell bells
  • Inside out
  • Roll both feet
  • V cut
  • L cut
  • Step overs
  • Tap tap roll

Ball control wall drills

  • Hit ball against the wall. Use instep to stop the ball as close to your body as possible
  • Pass the ball low and hard against the ball. Imagine an imagine nearby to you. Turn and pass him using your first touch. Use both inside and outside to turn quickly away. Train with both feet

Passing

  • Same as shooting, standing foot should point towards where you are passing
  • Passing foot should be parallel to the ball
  • Use inside of foot to pass
  • Should be able to pass with inside, outside as well as ping the ball
  • Think
    • whether you want to pass the ball directly to your teammate or just ahead of him in the empty space
    • which foot you should use to pass. See your teammates position and then take the right decision
    • weight of the pass: light or heavy

Crossing

  • The standard: In swinging curve cross for getting the striker the chance to volley or head in. This cross has dip, swerve and is deadly as the final ball
    • Where: Past the last defender. In front of the keeper
    • Technique:
      • Use lower part of instep
      • Hit just below the middle of the ball, on the side closer to you
      • Hit in a slight upward trajectory
      • Follow through but stop midway to get the dip
      • Make sure body is over the ball so that you don’t sky the ball
      • Panted foot 45° to your direction of cross
  • The floater: High lofted ball with a lot of hang time. Gives striker or whoever have muscle to tussle and get the ball
    • Technique: Same as above. But hit very low on the ball. And again stop midway to get the dip
  • Driven low cross: To smash across the goal to generate tap in chances
    • Technique: Hit higher on the ball. Or hit high on the instep

1v1

  • Be aware so that you can make the right choice
  • Dribble towards the defender to get him to commit
  • Watch his feet to know which direction he will go
  • Move past him in a way he is least expecting. If he leaning towards right move left and vice versa. If he is doing nothing, accelerate and move past
  • Pass/ shoot

Close control Dribbling and turning

  • Nudge: best dribblers take small touches with the right top of the foot, near the toe. Don’t use inside of the foot to dribble. Keep the ball close to your foot. Helps with close/tight control
  • Cutting/changing direction: you need to be able to cut in any direction, with both feet. Practice moving the ball side to side
  • Awareness is super important here too. Use arms to know/feel defenders closing you. Use outside of foot or inside depending on where is the defender
  • Lower your center of gravity. Bend your knees. Arch your chest forward. Arch over the ball. Don’t dribble upright
  • Have balance off the ball. Strengthen your core. Arms should be out to help your balance. Don’t keep it rooted to your side
  • While dribbling with the ball, break with inside of the foot. Dont break away with the outer foot. You will put weight/movement away from where you want to run
  • Don’t move your center of gravity to right or left. Practice your run without the ball

Advanced dribbling

  • If the defender has committed and he is approaching you with momentum, you take a long touch and accelerate past him
  • Approach the defender with pace. Slow pace. Stand upright instead of arching forward to fool the defender that you will pause. Instead accelerate past him. Basically change pace constantly
  • Try Zig zag movements. Change direction multiple times. So that defender has to keep swivelling his hips. And then baiting him, before he gets the chance to reposition. Look for defender’s hops to spot weak sides
  • Try body feints to unbalance defenders
  • Instead of planning your move, react to how the defender is approaching

Attacking

  • Find space between wing back and center back
  • Anticipate where the ball will go to score rebounds like Haaland
  • Play off the shoulder of the defender and behind the defender so that defender does not know you are behind
  • While attacking always look for empty space
  • Run from the deep to surprise the defender

Disclaimer: I have been playing regularly only for the last couple of months. I am not an expert in any way. The best part about my life is my willingness to learn new things, never relying on pure skills and putting in the hours till I am at a level I am proud of

P.S I will keep adding more things to this list

Stay up to date with my latest posts/tweets here: @manas_saloi