These are tips that I developed from my playing days. These techniques worked well for me and I hope they can help others become the player they want to be.
1. Run every day
Running 3 miles every day is a great cardiovascular workout and will help keep you at your peak fitness. Run uphill as much as possible. At around 2 miles, find a steep hill and sprint up it for about 20-30 meters then turn round and walk back down. Repeat this 5 to ten times before finishing the run. If you do this every day you will find you can play at your best for longer because you’ll be stronger and fitter.
2. Do exercises to increase your speed
Find a drop of around 150cm or stand on a barrel or safe object of a similar height. Jump off, landing on both feet in a squatting position and stand up straight as quickly as possible. Make sure you are well warmed up and stretched before doing this exercise to avoid injury. This exercise will strengthen quick reflex muscles in the legs, improving speed.
3. Learn to play with both feet
Most footballers play far better with one foot than the other, it’s difficult to improve your touch with your stronger foot. Concentrating on your weaker foot is a quick win as bigger improvements can be made with less work. Kick a ball against a wall using only your weaker foot. Have a scratch game in training where everyone plays only with their weaker foot. It doesn’t take much effort and you will notice results within a short space of time.
4. Learn a new trick
When you see a new trick by a professional, watch it closely, over and over again before attempting it. Online video is good for this purpose. Spend 10 minutes every day learning and perfecting the trick. Don’t try it in a game until you can do it perfectly every time and don’t overuse it or your opponents will figure you out.
5. Learn from the professionals
Watch professional footballers play and copy them. Sounds obvious but you’d be amazed how few players do this. Pick a player who plays in the same position as you and watch him closely, learn his tricks and pay attention to his positions when not on the ball. The player you choose should be someone you look up to and aspire to. The player I liked to learn from was Franck Sauzee, the ex-France, Marseilles and Hibernian midfield player. An excellent all round player who was always at the peak of his game.
Finally, don’t be put off if you don’t become Maradona over night. It takes time to become a great player and improving every part of your game gradually is the important thing. Sticking to a good routine and training properly are the key things to remember.