The Real Way To “Train Like A Soccer Pro”

Every time I here the slogan, “Train Like A Pro,” I cringe – as it usually involves an athlete trying to attempt some advanced jump when they can barely land correctly, or a soccer player attempting a very complex “trick,” or skills, when they have a hard time skipping with proper form.

I think to myself –

“Am I missing something? This is is not at all how I trained as a pro.”

Yes, some of the skills and advanced technique work were sprinkled into my training sessions, but it made up about a whopping 1% of my program.

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, I do believe it’s important for young athletes to have role models and aspire to be great, but I also believe it’s problematic when our youth are only focused on what the pro athletes are doing now.

The real focus should be on what professional athletes did when no one was watching- before anyone knew they were going to be stars.  How did they build their athleticism?  How did they improve their skill and technique?  These are the questions that should be getting asked.

“Why?,” you ask?

Because “Training Like A Pro” and being a pro, is NOT about glitz and glamour – it IS about putting in focused work, it IS about mastering the basics, and it IS about doing it day in, and day out, year after year.

After seeing Mia Hamm training on her own one evening, famous women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance had this to say:

“The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when no one else is watching.”

During my career with the National team, if you added up the individual training hours of each player it would be well into the hundreds of thousands, and that’s not including team practices – that’s individual time with the ball and repping the basics in the weight room.

These days I coach soccer players who’s schedules are packed to the brim with shooting practice, fast foot-work drill training sessions, team practices,etc. – leaving the majority of them spread too thin to create the discipline and commitment to train on their own.

My conversations with the parents and soccer players alike are commonly about quality over quantity and how doing less with more focus in most cases will yield better results.

This post isn’t to deter any player from training hard and having fun, but rather to really audit what you’re doing when it comes to your training.

By all means learning from what the pros do can be incredibly valuable.  In fact, I believe it is necessary.  Just make sure what you’re learning are their habits of mastering the basics, their focus on doing less, not more, and their ambition to be great.


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