All soccer players at the highest level have to be super talented, but what pushes players to that ELITE Level?
Right before writing this blog, I was talking with one of my friends about what has been going on in soccer recently and it inspired me. Recently, he has traveled to Spain and watched some of the best teams in the world like Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, and Barcelona games live in person.
In doing that you get to see how talented every single player is. Every touch is perfect, every pass is on point, every shot is powerful. On TV, we might only notice the "stars" or the ones who score the goals, but every single professional soccer player is extremely talented.
We talked about how we think the common theme amongst the game is that the most important things are speed, shot power, strength. While those are all very important and can become advantages for any player, the separator from the good to the elite is The Mental Game and Intelligence.
Intelligence can seem like a complex thing, but when you simplify it comes down to instincts. What is the best way to affect a game? It may not be with you dribbling past everybody, sometimes it can be a simple pass that can make the difference.
When a player makes a pass it seems like a simple thing, but you can break it down into so much more
How much pace should you put on the ball?
At what height should the ball be played?
Should you pass it to the left or right foot of your teammate?
After you pass what is the next move?
The mental game includes all of the skills needed to perform at our best. These include skills like mental toughness, goal-setting, focus, resilience, and the ability to perform under pressure.
I define mental toughness as the knowledge, ability, and discipline to put our best foot forward, regardless of the circumstances.
Can you play at your best when you’re tired and sore?
Can you still go and practice when you are tired?
Can you go train when the weather is bad?
Can you manage your emotions when the referees make unfair calls against you and your team?
After playing a bad game can you bounce back and play better in the next one?
These are all ingredients needed to become a player at the highest level. Speed, strength doesn't matter at all if you don't have the other 50%.
When talents like athleticism, (speed, strength), start to deteriorate because of age that is when the mental side can still prevail. These two Real Madrid players that I am about to list are prime examples, of how important mental strength and intelligence are for football/soccer.
Both of these players are considered to be outside of their "prime" but if you watched them you probably wouldn't be able to tell. They are still displaying world-class performances at the highest stage.
Karim Benzema has gone through many stages in his career. From being exiled from the French National team to undergoing heavy criticism from fans. Throughout it all, he has still been one of the best strikers in the world for many years now.
He is 34 years old now, but it wouldn't be crazy to say that he is the best striker in the world right now. He maybe doesn't have the speed or acceleration that he had in his 20s but has allowed him to get better with age.
The mental strength to train an extra few hours, the confidence, the intelligence are all mental attributes that he displays on the day to day basis. THAT is the thing that sets him apart from any young 20-year-old striker who has all the talent in the world.
The 36-year-old midfielder runs the show for Los Blancos. His presence alone changes games, and he is one of the reasons why Real Madrid is so hard to play against. Luka Modric has incredible stamina and his age does not really reflect on his gameplay at all.
He outruns and outruns midfielders half his age. He isn't the biggest or strongest, but his instincts are what sets him apart from other midfielders. At the age of 36 is when a lot of players start declining, but we have yet to see any decline from Modric.
If you need some tips on how to improve your mindset make sure to check out our Mindset blogs. We want to help all of our readers whether they are parents, soccer players, or any athletes.
How We Can Help: At FuturElitez Soccer, we emphasize a lot on our player's mindset and attitude towards not only football/soccer but life. Not only do we emphasize this with our players, but we put out information for everyone to see such as our blogs, instagram and tiktok. With our podcasts on youtube and our blogs, we try to put out a message to help everyone live their life to the fullest! If you enjoyed this read, it would mean so much to us if you could share this with a friend/family member! Thank you in advance for always reading our blogs on a weekly basis.