With over 3.5 billion fans around the globe, soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Soccer is simple by design, ensuring you can play alone or in a group and with minimal equipment (just a ball will do).
If you’re a fan but have never participated in the sport, you’ve probably wondered, “is soccer hard to play?”
This article is for anyone who’s thinking about lacing up a pair of cleats and giving soccer a go. We look at the difficulty of soccer and how you can get started. Other important topics we cover include:
- Avenues into the game
- The challenges associated with soccer
- The key skills of a soccer player
- How to get good at soccer
Is it possible to go from a casual fan to a regular player? Keep reading to find out.
Is Soccer Hard To Play
Soccer is a relatively easy sport to play. Compared to the likes of American football, baseball, and even basketball, the rules are very straightforward.
Unless you’re playing in a competitive match, you can set up a soccer game with a single ball and some “jumpers for goalposts” (goalposts created by sweaters).
If you don’t have teammates, you can easily practice shooting, dribbling, or passing in a small space.
However, if you want to become a good player, soccer isn’t so easy. Soccer is not only the most popular sport in the world, but it is also one of the oldest.
Soccer has been around for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, meaning it has progressed significantly in terms of coaching, tactics, and skill level.
Soccer is Easy To Learn But Hard To Be Great
Due to its accessibility, soccer is an easy sport to get involved in. Whether you’re playing in the backyard or on a recreation league team, you might be surprised at how quickly you can pick it up.
After learning the basics, you can work consistently on your skillset, accelerating your development in the sport.
Even if you struggle to make progress with your first touch, shooting, or passing abilities, effort goes a long way in soccer. Working hard off the ball, making runs, and putting your body on the line, will make you a valuable asset to most teams. In certain defensive positions, technical skill isn’t a priority.
Playing as A Defender
Defenders can endure a lot of success through grit and physicality, despite never possessing the finesse of some of the more complete players. Even at a professional level, many center-backs are regularly criticized for their technician deficiencies, particularly when it comes to passing and forward progressions.
As you advance through the competitive levels in soccer, it becomes increasingly difficult. Many kids come out of the womb kicking a ball.
Soccer is institutionalized in plenty of countries, creating exceptional talent pools at a youth level. In addition to competing with natural talents and genetic freaks, the standard of coaching is very high on a global scale.
In competitive leagues, tactics, formations, and systems come into play. Players are likely to have “homework” or video room obligations, studying patterns and positioning meticulously.
While you can always find a soccer team or league for your level, it is an extremely difficult game to succeed in professionally.
The Beautiful Game
One of the greatest things about soccer is how fun it is to play. For high-level players, the level of competition makes winning a sweet experience. However, at a recreational standard, soccer is a very enjoyable game.
If you’re playing with others, teamwork, comradery, and competition is incredibly addictive. When practicing alone, you can isolate particular skills and techniques, and observe improvement in real-time.
The progress of skill development is one of the most rewarding aspects of soccer.
Different Ways To Play Soccer
There are tons of different ways to play soccer. Fun games are a great way to improve your ability level in a fun and depressurized environment. You can set up 1 v 1 mini goal games, 5-a-side soccer, skills challenges, and much more. Another backyard favorite is a game called headers and volleys.
Headers and volleys is a staple street game in the UK. The rules are simple. Outfield players work together to score. However, they are only allowed to score with a header or volley. If an outfield player kicks the ball out of bounds, he or she trades places with the goalkeeper.
Each player is given a certain number of lives. Every time the goalkeeper concedes a goal, he or she loses a life. There are many variations to this game so it’s important to get up to speed with house rules before signing up.
Why Soccer Is Hard To Play
Competitive soccer can be extremely demanding. To earn your place on a team, you must train hard and hone your skills. Some of the most difficult aspects of the game include:
|2||Field Hockey||5.6 miles|
|5||American Football||1.25 miles|
Despite the tendency for modern players to flop or feign injury, it is becoming an increasingly physical game. Year on year, players are getting, fitter, faster, and stronger.
Modern soccer is an athlete’s sport and significant physicality is required at the highest level.
Soccer players typically have muscular legs and a strong core. This helps them meet running demands, compete for 50-50 challenges, and hold off opposition defenders.
Many elite soccer players, like Cristiano Ronaldo, dedicate themselves to staying in peak physical condition year-round.
You can have elite-level fitness and a muscular body, but without the necessary skill and technique, it’s impossible to succeed in soccer. The technique can only be developed by spending long hours on the training field.
Some of the most important techniques for soccer players to work on include:
- First Touch
Advanced players work on variations of these techniques, using different parts of the body to control the ball, kicking with either foot and shooting with the inside and outside of the foot.
Check out our article on advanced soccer moves to help refine your technique.
Being in the right place at the right time is a skill. While some players have a natural instinct for positioning, most people have to learn it. Knowing where you should be on a soccer field at all times, makes the game much easier to play.
Getting caught out of position too often typically ends in players getting demoted to the subs’ bench.
Reading The Game
Positioning and reading the game is similar but not quite the same. Correct positioning puts you in the right place to react appropriately.
However, a good reading of the game enables you to anticipate moves and act before they even happen. Now, put both of these attributes together and you have a valuable asset for virtually any team in the world.
Players like Andrea Pirlo, Paul Scholes, and Wayne Rooney were always several steps ahead of their opponents. Their high-level ability to read the game made their play look effortless.
Among the many great quotes about Paul Scholes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s stark description of his style is perhaps the most accurate:
“He’s not the quickest, he doesn’t run the most, he never wins a header, he can’t tackle but he’s the best player.”Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
How To Get Good At Soccer
If you want to get good at soccer, the solution is straightforward but by no means easy: just play. Play with friends, practice alone in your backyard, set up some drills, or join your local team.
Dedication and perseverance are the keys to improving your all-around game.
Check out our article on how to get better at soccer for some added inspiration.
Joel is a seasoned soccer journalist and analyst with many years of experience in the field. Joel specializes in game analysis, player profiles, transfer news, and has a keen eye for the tactical nuances of the game. He played at various levels in the game and coached teams - he is happy to share his insight with you.