We were trawling across the internet for something nice to share here when we stumbled upon this excellent video (at the end of this post) of Wayne Rooney.
Here, he offers advice from his rich experience as a pro that young footballers could definitely benefit from:
1. First Touch: This is something any decent football coach will always tell us – the importance of mastering the ball and commanding it to do what we want. How does one develop it? Practice. More practice. And then some more. Whether it’s juggling, jogging/running with the ball at our feet for a significant distance, or what have you, the more touches we get of a football every day, the better it will be to develop our touch. Here’s what Wazza has to say about it:
“If you look at all the great players, the one thing they all had in common was that they had a great first touch. If you’ve got a good first touch, you can always take the ball away from the defender and shield the ball from the defender. You can buy yourself a bit of time to, you know, think about what you’re going to do.”
“You haven’t got time to have a bad touch. If you have a bad touch and the defender’s there, you can’t get your shot off so it’s really important to get your touch right and you can get your shot off straight away.”
2. Attitude: This is something coaches and parents around the world bang on about day in, day out. But Rooney hits upon a point that is often forgotten, if not at grassroots level, then certainly somewhere along the journey to becoming a professional footballer – it’s all about loving the game, enjoying ourselves out there on the pitch, and nurturing that inherent desire to improve and get better!
“(As a kid) I just thought about playing the game, you know… ‘Do I love playing it and enjoying it?’ Because when you’re young, obviously you want to win and everything, but it’s about progression as a player as well.”
“I used to go out onto the pitch and try and express myself and just enjoy the game. I used to play with my mates on the street and then go to training.”
3. Holding the Ball Up: Having controlled the ball with a good first touch, Rooney talks about how important it is to retain possession so that the team can push forward, pass, make runs off the ball and, you guessed it, score.
“You have to make sure you hold on to the ball and you hold it up. Because if you don’t hold on to it, then the other team will just keep attacking you. If you hold on to it, you give your team time to get up the pitch and you can get into their half and then you can keep passing it from there and going forward.”
“If you’re making runs off the ball and there’s a lot of movement, the defenders are getting dragged out of position and when the defenders are dragged out of position, it’s important you take them opportunities.”
4. Finishing: One of the most enjoyable parts of pre-training for kids is when they’ll come out to the ground, put the big fella in goal and pepper him with shots from all over! If what Rooney says is anything to go by, doesn’t change much, does it? 😉 But he did have some tips for shooting when inside and outside the box:
“It’s about knowing what shot to take on at different times. Some shots, if you’re quite far out, then you have to just put your foot through it and you can score if you get it on target and you make the keeper work. That’s the most you can do really. If you’re inside the box, it’s better to pass the ball into the net with your sidefoot most of the time.”
“As a striker, it’s always really enjoyable when you do finishing and shooting. If you do that as part of the training session, then it’s brilliant.”
5. Taking Our Game to the Next Level: Turns out you need to keep improving – even if you’re Wayne Rooney. Some of the areas he works on a lot are his left foot passing and shooting, and his heading. So if Wazza thinks he needs to do better, there’s certainly a lot for us as footballers, coaches and parents to work on.
Most importantly, what he says here is indication of the fact that no matter where we are, what level we’re playing at, we need to nurture that hunger… that desire to get better all the time. There’s no time to rest on laurels.
“Practice doesn’t make perfect, but I think it certainly makes you a better player. And the better you want to be, I think the more you’ve got to practice. Definitely.”
Finally, Rooney leaves us with this bit of inspiration:
“If you want to play professional and if you want to do this as your job for the rest of your life, then you have to work hard and dedicate yourself to totally football. And sacrifice a few things you do outside of football and I’ve done that to the best I could and I think that was a massive help for me.”
So there you are – life’s best kept secret – the only secret to success is hard work.
Here’s the full video for your viewing pleasure. Have a great day!