Women’s soccer, once a difficult sport to navigate in South Africa, is opening up. More and more women are going pro, even heading to clubs overseas to step up their game and earn full salaries. There’s the steady growth of tournaments on our shores, like the Hollywoodbets Super League, thankfully watchable on SABC Sport.
And there’s more than enough reason to get in on the action yourself. It’ll up your endurance; clutch for anyone looking to score a new PB; since soccer involves tons of running (about 10km per game, according to one estimate). Aside from building killer quads, the sport has major brain benefits, too. You’ll sharpen your cognitive function and improve motor control as well as fine-tune your decision-making abilities. To elevate your game, follow these training tips from the pros.
Up your soccer footwork
“Before the ball even comes to you, you need to know exactly where you’re headed,” says Maude Khumalo, Head Coach at the University of Pretoria. To work on quick decision-making, keep your eyes on the players around you, with your back never facing the action.
Stay on your toes
One mistake you might be making? Staying flat on your feet while playing. “Always be on your toes in order to get the rhythm right,” advises Khumalo. Practise by receiving the ball (you can do this by hitting the ball against the wall) and staying on your toes throughout, so you’re light on your feet.
Receive the ball with your back foot and pass with your front foot, says Khumalo. To practise this, get a friend and pass the ball back and forth, making sure to control it. “It’s very important that you use both feet,” says Khumalo.
Enhancing your soccer passing game
Go hard on dribbling
Running with the ball while dodging the opposing team is no easy task. To make sure you’re always in control of the ball, do a simple dribbling drill, recommends Khumalo. Stack five cones in a row and dribble the ball through the cones, weaving in and out. It’s easier said than done.
Master the stepover
“The wall is your best friend,” says Perry Stevens, Methodology Director at the JVW Football Club. “You can play against a wall and it’s always going to be passing back to you.” Practise the stepover, which is an important move for keeping the ball in your control. Step over the ball, and with your other foot, kick it in the direction of the wall.
This childhood game is ace at sharpening your agility and footwork. “These simple passing drills help with your first touch and your passing accuracy,” explains Stevens. Get a few friends together and practise trying to get the ball from them, with you in the middle and them surrounding you (like a game of keep-away). If you win, you swap roles.
Scoring in soccer
Power up your quads
To build power for scoring long shots, try resistance band work, suggests Khumalo. Tie a resistance band to a pole and around your waist, then practise kicking the ball into the goal (use cones) with resistance. You’ll strengthen those legs.
Focus on your placement
“A lot of players think that you need to smash the ball as hard as you possibly can to get it into the back of the net. For me, it’s [about] placement,” says Stevens. Focus on striking the ball with the inside of your foot and make sure your foot makes contact with the centre of the ball – not the outside.
Master the follow-through
When you kick to score, make sure you’re focusing on your movement, from the placement of where you want the ball to go, to where your body is positioned. “The follow-through is when I don’t stop as I kick the ball. I follow my leg through, so I have an even transition of weight and distribution,” says Stevens. To do that, make sure your legs are equally aligned and facing the same direction you want to score in.
Elevate your game with these soccer kit essentials.
Under Armour HEATGEAR bra
Since playing soccer involves a lot of running, this bra delivers support for any high-impact sport that you’re playing. A wide band keeps things comfortably in place and speedwick fabric keeps you cool and dry.
adidas Pride Tiro Jersey
Add colour to your kit with this jersey, part of the adidas x Rich
Mnisi Pride Collection. Moisture-wicking tech keeps you cool and dry, while the jersey is made with 100% recycled materials.
Under Armour Accelerate Socks
An elasticated band around the midfoot gives you stability with less movement in the shoe during gameplay, and ventilated sections
Future Ultimate FG/AG Women’s Football Boots
FUZIONFIT360 upper with PWRTAPE support locks you in for quick cuts and changes of pace. Dynamic Motion System provides more support at the heel, more flexibility at the forefoot, and more traction in every direction.
Nike Mercurial Fade Soccer Ball
Barbie, but make it soccer. This hot pink ball is easy to spot on the pitch, with a smooth surface that’ll fly through the nets.
Cotton On Body Pocket Move Jogger
Made to move – and show off those legs – these joggers are mid-rise for comfort and easy movement.