Soccer is an incredibly demanding sport which requires players to be in tip-top shape for optimal performance. Great soccer players do more than just train by playing one game, though. Other sports can help soccer players become better by helping to focus their skill development.
Because soccer demands so much and is so multi-faceted, narrowing down the skills you want to develop and then finding other sports or activities that hone them can really improve your performance on the soccer field!
Here are a few sports that soccer players should try out.
We talked about how much tennis players can get out of playing soccer in this article, but it also works in the opposite direction.
Soccer players can practice changing directions quickly and anticipating the movement of the ball. No, you’re not using your feet to move the ball across the court, but the sport can still improve your ability to track the ball and anticipate trajectories.
Also, reading your opponent is a big part of tennis. In soccer, you only really get to do that in a penalty kick situation. Staring down your opponent and anticipating their reaction is something you do all the time in tennis.
Basketball is one of the largest North American sports, so much so that it’s unlikely that you’ll see a school gym or park without a basketball court. But while the sport may look very different from soccer, some shared principles could, with practice, really improve your soccer skills.
A large part of basketball is simply moving the ball down the court. This requires fancy footwork, slick moves, and most importantly, passing. Even though you pass with your hands and not your feet, it’s the same idea. You want to look for your opening, react to it quickly, and outsmart your opponent—just like playing soccer.
Volleyball is a fast-paced game with a much smaller play area than soccer, but it can still work on key parts of your soccer game.
Much of volleyball is spent in the air, jumping up as high as possible to block or reach high-flying balls. Jumping and diving for the ball can help you drill down on your vertical game if you find yourself being beaten out at the net reaching for those corner kicks.
And playing beach volleyball is great for the legs—the sand is perfect for resistance training!
Swimming might not directly help with your soccer skills, but it is an excellent activity for developing strength and endurance.
The resistance provided by the water can work your muscles to the limit faster and more effectively than on land. Swimming will improve your overall strength to help add power to your kicks, speed to your sprints, and stamina to those long run-downs.
If none of the sports above is your cup of tea, any sport you choose could have some component that is useful for soccer. It’s just such a physically demanding sport that whatever skill you decide to focus on can make a significant impact on your level of play.
The takeaway is not to pigeon-hole yourself to only playing one sport. Being well-rounded is important in sports as well as life!