Young people worldwide dream of becoming professional soccer players, taking the field in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans. The sport of soccer is wildly popular, and its star players are idolized and respected long after they retire from the leagues. Rising up through the sport’s levels to ultimately stand on the podium at the World Cup is a rarefied journey that only an elite group of athletes will realize. If you aspire to become a professional soccer player, you may be wondering what it’s really like to work your way up through the leagues.

Laying the Groundwork

Obviously, to become a professional, you’ll need to develop top-notch skills in the sport. Playing on competitive teams and practicing your ball-handling skills in your free time are two obvious ways to build your proficiency, but there are other, more subtle factors you must attend to. For example, you’ll need to eat a healthy, balanced diet that focuses on lean proteins and plenty of fluids. Your body is the vehicle that will take you to the top levels of the sport, so you must fuel it well.

You’ll also need to pay close attention to the signals your body sends you and react appropriately. Once you reach the professional level, you’ll have trainers and coaches to help with your physical needs, but you’ll need to develop your own self-care practices until then. Consider utilizing holistic and alternative medicine as much as possible, as these methods tend to be gentler on your body than traditional medicine. For instance, there are many ways to incorporate Young Living Essential Oils into your post-workout routine. Eucalyptus oil reduces pain and inflammation, and its cooling effect can be beneficial when applied to sore muscles. You might also want to incorporate essential oils into your pre-game preparations; studies show that certain oils like peppermint boost energy and focus.

Following the Examples of Others

One of the best ways to begin preparing yourself mentally for your journey through the different soccer leagues is to study the athletes who made that trip before you. One great example is Xavier Hernandez Creus, better known as Xavi. Today, this world-renowned star manages the Al Sadd Club in Qatar, but his illustrious career as a player demonstrates one of the many possible pathways to success.

At age 11, Xavi joined the Barcelona youth academy and spent the next seven years working his way up through the youth and reserve teams before joining Futbol Club Barcelona and scoring his first goal in La Liga, the top division in the Spanish league system, at age 18. Xavi played for Barcelona for seventeen years, racking up numerous wins, trophies, and honors along the way. After an emotional farewell event in 2015, Xavi left the Barcelona club and joined Al Sadd, where he played for another four years before officially retiring as a player in 2019. Today, his career continues from the sidelines as Al Sadd’s manager.

Recently, when asked what advice he would give to an aspiring young soccer player, Xavi emphasized the basics, saying, “I think mastery of the ball, with good ball control, should be the priority of all young players and their coaches.”

Learning From History

To succeed in soccer, you must master not only the fundamental skills but also understand the industry and how it works. The sport’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), oversees all aspects of the game. Learning FIFA’s history, as well as the critical role it plays in conducting the world’s most popular sport, will help you not only appreciate the greatness of the players who came before you but also help you chart a path for your own success.

Working your way up through the different soccer leagues is a goal that requires a great deal of commitment, dedication, and effort. You’ll need to hone your soccer skills, take good care of your physical and mental health, create a clear vision of where you want to go, and stay focused on success.