Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world and while millions of people play it every day, only a handful ever go pro. There’s no denying that those professional FIFA-level athletes are the most skilled players, but they all had to start somewhere. At one point, they were still learning the rules and making mistakes with their training efforts, too. With enough determination, it’s possible to go from an amateur player to a FIFA-level athlete. Here are a few tips to help you speed up the journey to becoming a professional soccer player.

1. Practice Often

Practice makes perfect and you’ll need to incorporate this into your daily routine even after you reach the top level. Run through drills, perfect your movements and never stop improving. Take care to get extra practice in even during the off-season or when you’re not working with your coach. All you need is enough open space to maneuver your ball around. You can even practice at night in your room. During off-seasons, look for league teams and recreational events to help you keep your skills sharp. Make soccer a priority every day and you’ll find it easy to get enough practice to hone your skills.

2. Perfect Your Diet

Professional soccer players treat their bodies well every day. This means they watch what they put into their bodies at every meal. Ditch the junk food and choose nutrient-rich unprocessed foods whenever possible. Focus on eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. According to the team behind Power Life High Impact Endurance, you’ll also want to incorporate supplements into your diet to help fill in any nutritional gaps you might have. When you eat right, your body will be better equipped to handle the demands of your training routine. Keep in mind that you’ll need to reevaluate your diet and supplement needs frequently. As your exercise routines and training patterns change, your dietary needs will, too.

3. Strength Train Often

There’s more to becoming a professional athlete than mastering your moves on the soccer pitch. You need to build good strength. Start strength training as part of your soccer training routine. If you’re not already, consider working with a personal trainer that’s familiar with the demands soccer athletes experience on and off the pitch. Tailor your exercises to build lean muscle, not bulk, and help you improve your speed and stability on the pitch. Remember, strength and flexibility can help you avoid injuries and extend your career for years even after making it to the professional leagues.

4. Give Yourself Permission to Take Breaks

Every athlete needs a little downtime every once in a while. When you’re pushing yourself to reach professional levels, this downtime is even more important. Give yourself permission to take time off when you need to. Go on vacation with your friends and family to relax and unwind. Take the afternoon off every once in a while and always let yourself heal fully from your injuries. Your commitment to your sport won’t wane just because you’re taking a break. In fact, it can end up being stronger when you give yourself a little time away from the pitch. Remember, taking time off is the mark of a person that’s serious about following their passions, not someone that’s in it just for fun.

5. Stay Motivated

Training to become a professional soccer player and an elite athlete is a process. It’s easy to lose sight of the goal when things get hard and they will frequently. Try to keep your goal in mind every step of the way. Remind yourself why you want to become a professional athlete and stay motivated to keep up with your training and the intense schedule that goes along with it. Remember, if you lose motivation, it will be hard for you to progress and reach new levels of skill on the pitch.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way toward becoming a professional FIFA-level soccer player.