Playing soccer requires several types of skills, including physical, mental and emotional. Some of these skills come naturally to some players but must be learned by others. What comes natural for one player may not for another, but in order to be competitive, a certain level of mastery of the game and its many facets must be attained. Whether naturally skilled or not, all players must hone their soccer-playing skills to be competitive.
Physical skills that must be learned and mastered in order to play competitive soccer include stamina, speed, strength, reaction, ability and coordination. Soccer requires extensive running, so skills like stamina, speed and strength are ones that can be developed through consistent running, cardiovascular and weight training. Reaction and coordination are skills that typically come naturally, but can also be improved through extensive and repetitive practice. A variety of game-related physical skills must also be learned and developed, including dribbling, kicking, passing and heading.
Soccer requires several mental skills that enable players to understand the rules, formations, position responsibilities and objectives of the game. Players must exercise their mental skills to keep track of vital game information, including the game's score and how much time is left. By learning the rules of soccer, players will equip themselves with the knowledge to play within the rules. Farther-reaching mental skills like league standings and tournament or post season possibilities will further enhance the soccer player's ability to fully participate in all that the game has to offer.
Soccer requires emotional skills that will help players to deal with many types of situations, including defeat, conflict, sportsmanship and team camaraderie. Playing soccer, like any sport, produces stressful situations that will affect the way players perform during a game and interact with teammates, coaches and opponents. Emotional skills and maturity are influenced by several factors, including age level, family situation, education and culture.
Game-specific skills need to be developed for soccer players to effectively play the game. Soccer rules prohibit all players, except the goalkeeper, from touching the ball with their hands while it is in play. Players' legs, feet, heads and torsos are the body parts that primarily come in contact with the ball. Specific skills using these parts of the body include dribbling, heading, passing and punting. When developing and refining dribbling skills, players use all parts of their feet to pass, change direction and kick the ball. Physical abilities come into play as players use their spatial awareness, peripheral vision, speed and agility to effectively play the game.
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