How to Be a Team Leader in Soccer

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Landon Donovan – a true leader! – (Photo: Wallstcheatsheet.com)

Every team needs a leader, and having such a person on your team can often make the difference late in a game.  Remember when Landon Donovan helped the United States Men’s National team qualify from their 2010 World Cup group with a late game-winning goal against Algeria?  That was the mark of a leader!  Never giving up, driving the team forward, and ultimately doing the necessary work to become the hero on the day is what separates the average squad player and the heroic leader of the team.  So how can you elevate your game into one of these inspired performers?

It begins with leading by example.  Never boast or talk the big game about what you can do.  Instead, show it on the field with your performances.  Make that defining run late in the game that leads to the big goal.  Be the person that lifts your teammates by encouraging them to keep their heads up and keep fighting.  The leader never shows disappointment or gives up.  Always be willing to take the team to the next level.

The more passion and intensity that you bring to every match will soon be noticed by your teammates who will start looking for you for direction, especially late in close matches.  This is the time when leaders are born and make an impact.  Obviously something that you should work on is your overall fitness and stamina.  While everyone else grows fatigued and tired, you need to be the person still going strong and ready to battle.  If you are simply worn out after a grueling match, you will certainly not be able to lead the squad in this time.

Another thing to keep in mind is to always maintain a positive outlook.  Your team may be losing 2 or 3 nil, but the leader certainly won’t be giving up.  In fact, you will need to step up and lead the great comeback!  Certainly the leader will be irked when a teammate makes a mistake, and confronting them about it is OK, but be careful not to overdo it.  Let your fellow player know what they did wrong and then drop the subject entirely.  If you let one error bother you for an entire match and cannot let it go, that error will probably cost you the game.  Remember, you want to help your teammates perform at their best level.  In fact, you should be there patting that teammate on the back and reassuring them if a mistake is made!

Lastly, to be a true team leader, you must be one of the most skilled and hard working players on the team.  While you may not have the best shot or run the fastest, you will certainly need to be the person that works the hardest in practice and spends the most time training.  It’s not about being the best player on the team or even in the world.  It’s about being the best soccer player that you can possibly be!  So if you really want to be a leader for your soccer team, make sure to practice hard, get fit, start making impact plays, and bring and endless positive energy to your team!  People will start following you once you make these strides forward!


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