Galanis Blog: The Fuel

The Fuel
Welcome to my first blog. The reason behind this blog is to help young players coaches and parents understand what it takes to become an effective soccer player and to help steer them into the right mindset.  
After a lot of thought I have decided to kick off my first blog dedicated to the fuel that makes you a great soccer player. The fuel you ask? The fuel that is otherwise known as practice!
Practice is the base for success no matter what you do in life. If you practice reading you will become a great reader. If you practice chess you will become a great chess player. If you practice singing you will become a great singer. It’s no different in soccer. Practice is the only way to reach the top.
Many young players today rely on their coach to make them better. They rely on team training and a game to take them to the top. However there is no coach or training environment that is good enough to take you to the top. If there is I would like to meet this coach and view this environment.
Over the years I have seen so many players that have the desire to play at the highest level. I have seen many players that want to be like Messi or Ronaldo. They buy Messi cleats, they buy Messi jerseys, they watch Messi. But they fail to adopt the habit that has made their hero a hero.
When you walk into a locker room of a professional team you will without a doubt find out real quickly that every pro player has a story about how they practiced on their own for hours upon hours when growing up. Some might have played at the local park. Some may have played on a tennis court. Some may have simply knocked the ball up against the wall. The bottom line is that all players that play at the top got there due to the hours they put in on their own.  
In an age where X-Box, Playstations, computers and TVs have taken over our child’s world, it’s up to us as adults to carve out practice time for our kids. It’s up to us to find friends that want to play; it’s up to us to rig our house so our kids can practice. Our kids aren’t going to find other kids playing in the neighborhood and our kids don’t have the creative edge to find areas of our homes to play and practice. We need to give them a hand in clocking up the hours and burning the fuel.
Don’t be mistaken and go out and set up structured training sessions for your child at home. Your child has structure at team training. You don’t want any structure. You just want free hours of playing. Hours of trying different things and developing skills that you can’t develop at team training.
I remember while growing up and playing on the street, I would dedicate days to different skills. I used to have opposite foot days where I played entire games just using my opposite foot. I remember days where I would just play long balls in our free scrimmages. I remember days when I would take the ball and try to dribble through the entire opposition. I remember days where I sat on the right flank and practiced to be a winger. Those days helped me develop my skills with no fear of a coach. I had no coach to judge me and was free to break skill barriers that I would never be able to break at training or in real games. I swear that these days made me who I was as a player. No way would I have practiced these skills on a Tuesday or Thursday night at training. My coach would have flipped out on me. Can you imagine showing up to training and just playing with your opposite foot?
Practicing on your own simply is the only way to take your game to the highest level. I feel that this is the reason for the decline in crafty players in recent times. If you want to be the best you can be don’t rely on your coach, your team or your brand new shiny cleats. The only thing you can rely on is the fuel otherwise known as practice.
James Galanis
Director of Soccer Operations
Universal Soccer Academy


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