When you step out onto a football, rugby, or cricket pitch for the first time, or take your first steps onto a tennis or badminton course, maybe an athletics track or you plunge into a swimming pool, we all have that moment we dream of being one of the top stars that we’ve watched on the television or read about in the newspapers.
Every young footballer wants to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, maybe Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney or Sergio Agüero, and it’s only natural – they’re amazing players and if you’re going to aspire to be anyone, you might as well aspire to be the very best.
To get to the very top, you need to start from the very bottom, honing your skills and working on your technique at the earliest opportunity so that you can let your natural talent shine through and cut out any of the bad habits before they become such a natural part of your game that it’s too late to cut them out – we all have them!
Getting to the top all starts on the training field or in the parks. You need to make sure that you’re fully equipped with everything you could possibly need to help you to develop at your own speed, moving on to more complex skills when you’re ready. So what do you need? Surely anything released onto the market is essential, right? Wrong. So many items have been released onto the market marked as ‘essential’ when in fact they’re just new and aimed at taking your money, there are only a few things that are genuinely essential. Such as:
You need to make sure that you’re training in the right clothing so that you can move freely and easily with all of the essential support you need. Football socks, shorts and tops are pretty much all you need to get out onto the training pitch and give it your all. It doesn’t have to be the kit of your favourite club, you can choose any colour you like, it’s all about feeling confident in your equipment so that you can give it everything you’ve got.
Having the appropriate footwear is also key. You don’t need to go out and buy replica versions of Ronaldo’s boots to play like him; he probably started out with a relatively inexpensive pair and didn’t turn out too badly! Again, it’s all about feeling confident in your equipment and if you’re to become a top player, running around a wet football pitch in trainers isn’t going to help you, (you’ll spend more time falling over for one thing!)
Some equipment is essential while others are optional, but one piece for all footballers that must be worn are shin pads. They help to protect your lower legs against tackles from opposing players and can make the difference between skipping through a challenge and firing in a wonder goal, and ending up on a stretcher with serious damage to your leg. Train in your shin pads to get used to it, they’re not just for matches.