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How to Start Playing Soccer? A Complete Guide

How to Start Playing Soccer? A Complete Guide

Soccer has the largest fan following in the sporting world with the simplest of rules on the street. All you need is a soccer ball and a handful of peers to ignite the competitive spirit of scoring goals!

But what if you want to learn a few skills and get comfortable with the ball at your feet? How do you start playing soccer then?

Well, there are then two schools of thought for that!

You either devote yourself to relentless practice by playing the game as often as you can. Or, you break down the sport into bite-sized portions and pick up the skills individually.

How to Play Soccer

And both work wonders!

The former gives you enough in-game experience and acquaints you with the different scenarios you run into during a soccer match. And the latter polishes skills such as shooting, passing, sprinting, and dribbling to build muscle memory.

But whether you should jump straight on the pitch and start playing, or work on your individual skills first, depends highly on your athleticism and physique.

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How to Start Playing Soccer?

People that are starting to play soccer fall majorly in two categories.

The athletic ones, who’ve played other competitive sports like basketball, football, or even baseball. These guys have the basic stamina and the body-to-eye coordination required for playing soccer.

The players are chasing a ball that is rolling

All they need is just practice to get used to the game.

The other group, the non-athletic players, are the ones with no formal sporting experience. And so there’s a lot of work needed on these individuals before they can step foot into the game.

Since there’s no scale where we can weigh both these types of starters similarly, I’ve penned down the starting strategies separately for each.

So, if you’re an athletic person who has played other sports, you can skip the following heading and get straight into how you can pick up soccer skills in the game.

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But if you’re a complete newbie to sports, the following guidelines should put you on stable footing before entering the soccer arena.

Whether it is professional soccer you’re hoping to get into or are keen about showcasing your skills and dominance to your friends on the street, learning the following basics will definitely develop the love in your heart and the confidence needed for playing soccer!

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How to Start Playing Soccer for Non-Athletic Players?

Your lungs give up way sooner than your body in soccer. And that is especially true for starters with low athleticism and physical fitness.

And that’s why the very first commandment for soccer is stamina!

Find yourself tailored HIIT workouts or give ample time to cardio. This will increase your lung capacity and get your body used to generate power for long durations.

some people are running up the stairs

But since cardio and stamina-building are probably the most boring sections of workouts and training, you can complement your routine with the following individual practice sessions.

Practicing the following skills while building up stamina and physical capacity will give you enough confidence, endurance, and control when you start playing on the field.

So, let’s get started!


Juggling is a soccer player’s trademark skill. So, it’s only natural that you begin your soccer practice by perfecting this.

You build the closest relationship with the soccer ball by juggling. Tap the ball with your foot to lift it up just enough into the air to give you time to switch your feet.

A kid soccer player is practicing ball juggling

It’s common for the ball to go around in every direction you don’t want, so patience is definitely a virtue here.

But the reason I recommend this drill at the beginning is that you learn to use different parts of your foot to control the ball. The inside, outside, knuckle, and heel touches all become clearer in a matter of a few days by practicing juggling.

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Once you learn the different foot areas that you can touch the ball with, it’s then easier to move towards other drills.

Ball-taps are when you keep hitting the ball against a wall while alternating your feet every time. You can also practice this with the ball tied to a headband that keeps bringing it back to your feet.

Ball-tapping works similar to juggling. The only difference is that the motion of the ball is now horizontal rather than vertical. And so, it brings you much closer to performance in a game.

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This is a crucial drill for soccer players to learn and perfect the art of passing. Numerous coaches and managers put their youth teams and young players to practice this way.

Shooting Practice

Now that you’re well acquainted with the ball at your feet and know how to pass, the next thing to learn is how to score a goal, which is the essence of a soccer game!

Practicing freekicks is the best way to master your shooting. Place the ball on the ground at about 20 yards from your target, and keep trying to hit it until you stop missing it at all.

This takes a lifetime to master, or else everyone would be bending it like Beckham. But you start seeing the improvements immediately in your game.

The soccer player in red is shooting the ball

You can start with the most basic shot, the curling ball. And once you get comfortable and start to get bored of the same drill, you can then move on to the shots taken with the outside of the foot.

In a few practices, you’ll also learn that it is challenging to load power with these types of kicks. And that’s when you should start practicing with the knuckle shots.

To spice things up even more and get a closer experience to a match scenario, you can try the rolling shots.

That’s when you roll the ball at different angles from the goal and try getting it in with the first touch. And switch your shooting foot every now and then to keep things interesting!

The player is about to take a shot

Cone Drills

You’re almost ready to step onto a soccer pitch by now. But if you want to add a bit of style and art to your game, cone drills are the way to go.

Cone drills teach you both the movements, off the ball and on the ball.

Off-the-ball movements are when you don’t have the ball at your feet but are moving around to make space, which is commonly known as positioning.

Soccer players are taking cone drills

On-the-ball movements are when you have the ball at your feet, making your way past the defenders—commonly known as dribbling.

Now, you can set up the cones in any way you like and design the drill for yourself. It gives you a closer experience to the game where you’ll be going past players and making quick movements.

Running With the Ball

Last but never least, run with the ball!

There is no simpler soccer drill than this one. You only need somewhere around 50 yards of space, where you’ll run from one end to the other with the ball.

The soccer player is running with a ball

And the only key takeaway here is to keep trying to run faster with the ball.

You’ll learn longer touches to the ball that gives you room to run faster. Also, you’ll learn shorter touches give you more control over the ball while running.

More than that, you’ll also learn how to use the inside, outside, lower, and knuckle parts of your foot.

This is one of my favorite soccer drills. Besides improving your first touch on the ball, it helps you build stamina adjacently.

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The Types of Soccer These Drills Apply To

A question that boggles every beginner’s mind is what type of soccer they want to get into. This has become more common with the belief that futsal and indoor soccer are considered an easy start when compared to field soccer. 

In reality, all that’s different from the field of play, duration, and the surface it’s played on. You’ll still need the same set of skills for playing that I’ve highlighted above.

Contrary to common belief, there is much more skill required in indoor and futsal soccer matches. Since the field of play is reduced, the game naturally shifts into the defense’s favor.

You’ll need to be much quicker with your sprints and more creative with your dribbling to get past players. And for that to happen, you need to grind on the above basics first. 

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As a rule of thumb, it is always good to learn soccer on a complete pitch to get comfortable with different positions. Whether you’re a striker, defender, or midfielder, you’ll develop a lot more independence by playing on a full field.

And as far as the application of these drills goes, they apply to all forms of soccer. Jumping, sprinting, shooting, passing, and dribbling are the key ingredients of a soccer game. 

And without perfecting them first, you won’t get past the beginner’s stage that easily.

futsal player is taking cone drills

How to Start Playing Soccer for Athletic Players?

Individuals with a history of sports find it easier to start playing soccer. It is partly because they’re familiar with the competitive spirit of sports and are at a better fitness level than others.

But soccer isn’t just about fitness; skill is equally important!

And there are several ways an athletic person can start playing soccer. You can gather your friends at the beach on weekends and play casual matches.

Or, you can sign up for college tournaments or even join a soccer academy to learn how to play soccer the right way and improve your game.

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Though athletic individuals have got the stamina and endurance to last an entire match, trying out some of the above drills for non-athletic players is still essential if you don’t just want to start playing soccer, but be good at it as well. 

But as attractive as these may sound, let’s take a deeper look at each of them individually!

Casual Soccer Matches with Friends

Soccer doesn’t necessarily require proper bases and marked fields like other sports to play. All you need are two goal posts facing each other and a few players on each side.

It can be at the beach, local park, the street, or even your backyard!

Some people are in a street soccer match

Calling out your friends over the weekends and holidays for matches is a fun way to start learning soccer. Nobody’s a professional player in casual matches, so you’ll have enough room to build up confidence and learn to play.

But if you don’t have many competitive friends interested, you can look up an online community in your area via social media. They’re everywhere!

The beauty of playing casual matches is that you can choose to play in any position. Since everyone’s there for fun, there are no judgments.

You can be a striker, goalkeeper, midfielder, or a defender, whatever you may like!

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Join a College League

Joining a college league team is a great way to start playing soccer, but it is usually very competitive.

More than that, you’ll also need to be specialized in a particular playing position, whether that’s up the pitch or down. So, this will become quite difficult if you haven’t practiced being a midfielder or a striker enough during casual matches.

But let’s say you already know the position you want to play at and are somewhat good at too. In that case, college league teams will help you grow a lot.

You’ll find many other people striving to become better at soccer. And just being around their company will give frequent insights into your game and way for improvement.

This is also the place where you’ll learn more about team play and spirit, which comes quite handy as you progress into higher leagues.

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Sign Up for an Academy

Signing up for an academy is practically the easiest way you can start playing soccer!

Some professional coaches guide and train you through the basics. They are also very sharp at polishing talent.

So, you never know when you catch a manager’s or a coach’s eye, and they start giving you extra attention for your game improvement.

Other than that, you will also shoulder-to-shoulder with a group of individuals who are just starting out like you are. And that makes it easier for a newcomer to settle into soccer and pick up the skills.

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However, academies don’t come free, and you’ll have to loosen up your pocket a little.

But on the bright side, soccer academies are the place to go if you intend to join higher tournaments or professional soccer someday.

Soccer academies make you train hard. And afterward, they even arrange matches with rival clubs or academies to boost your confidence on the pitch.

Also, since many new players are coming in to learn soccer at academies, they’re better equipped to polish an individual in the position he plays best at!

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Find a Partner to Train With

Everything becomes a little more bearable when you have a partner!

Just like you spice up your workout sessions by partnering up with a friend, you can do the same to learn soccer.

Set up a daily or weekly routine training with a friend with whom you can train for soccer. And on your meetups, you can practice short-range passes, long balls, and even penalty shootouts.

This also applies to all the training drills I mentioned earlier in the article. Having a friend at your side will keep you interested and improve your capacity to learn.

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It is never too late to start playing soccer. That’s the beauty of this demanding yet straightforward sport.

But being mindful of your current physical fitness should put you on the right footing to start playing soccer whenever you intend to.

You can mix and match training drills like shooting and juggling with proper matches over the weekend to speed up your initial learning of the game.

But if you want to step into the professional pool and aren’t interested in casual games, there aren’t many options available other than to join a club, academy, or professional league team.