In sports, there is a saying that if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. Whether your goal is to play soccer professionally or simply improve your recreational play, these eight methods can help you become a better soccer player.

  1. Improve Your Speed, Agility and Quickness

If you want to go hard on the soccer field, then you need to be fast, agile and quick. These attributes will make you a better overall athlete. Additionally, they will help you beat your opponent down the field, get to the ball faster, avoid defenders, score more points and avoid injury.

  1. Practice Your Footwork

Your athletic ability will only take you so far. To be a good soccer player, you also need to have impeccable technique. To accomplish this, you need to get as much practice as you can. Take a ball with you everywhere you go and practice your footwork whenever you have some spare time. If toting a soccer ball around isn’t practical, try doing exercises with a tennis ball.

  1. Increase Your Strength and Fitness

Soccer is not a game where you can take a couple of swings, or run a few plays and then go sit on the bench. You need to be able to run for 90 minutes and not just at a slow jog. You will need to start, stop, sprint, jog, and then sprint again. If you don’t have the fitness level to do this regularly, you won’t succeed as a soccer player.

While endurance is very important, you also need strength. Strength will help you jump for balls, hold off defenders and play better defense. Core strength is particularly important. Rather than trying to pack on muscles, aim for a good balance between functional strength, speed, agility and endurance.

  1. Play Video Games

Video game players have long justified their hours of gaming to their mothers by saying it was improving their hand-eye coordination. In the case of soccer, playing video games actually can make you a better player. Games, such as “Fifa 19” help players learn to make quick decisions and think strategically. The game can also give players a feel for what it is like to play every position on the field. Getting really good at the game won’t make you a great player in real life, but it can help you improve your mental game.

  1. Watch Soccer

Watching great players play the game can help you learn new techniques and strategies. Pay particular attention to the players that play your position.

  1. Set a Practice Schedule

Hopefully, you are already sneaking in some extra footwork practice whenever you can, but you also need to schedule regular practice. Set aside some time every week and plan out what you are going to work on in each practice session. Set goals for your practice and keep a record of your progress.

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet

Playing soccer burns a lot of calories, which means you need to properly fuel your body to maintain enough energy to make it through a game. Reduce the number of processed foods you eat and replace them with whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and high-fiber carbohydrates. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Try eating several small meals throughout the day, instead of a few large meals, to maintain energy. Eat some healthy carbs and protein after your workouts to aid with recovery. Drink plenty of water.

  1. Stick To Your Assigned Position

Inexperienced players often play out of position. If you want to move up in the game, you need to study how to play your position correctly. Learn your roles and where you should be on the field in different situations.

There is no easy path to becoming a great soccer player. However, there are steps you can take to up your game no matter what level you are currently at.