I’m considering joining a soccer team (low division) for fun and exercise. The only thing concerning me is that I’ve never actually played soccer in a controlled setting before! Should I expect a steep learning curve? It’s a very casual team, and I’ve wanted to play for a long time.
I used to play low-level pickup soccer with a regular group when I was living in the US. Even though I wasn’t even that great compared to that group, I had lots of fun, even more when I brought my friend with me. In general, while some people can be a bit douchy to newbies or people who aren’t that great, that is all pretty easily avoided if you:
- Hustle and noticeably don’t half ass it
- Don’t act like a jerk yourself, either in your play or in your personality
It can be a very steep curve at the top and bottom. Playing in an established team of amateurs that have a decent level of skill means that anyone of very low ability will stick out like a sore thumb.
If you have a decent level of ability and are smart enough to play to your limits then you can slot in to a wide range of teams and make your self useful. My tip? if you can control the ball and play a quick, simple, short pass under pressure then you are an asset. Even if that is* all *you ever try to do you’ll be an asset.
Of course the main thing to consider is the social aspect. Whatever the level, if the team are welcoming and supportive then I’m sure you’ll have fun.
I played in indoor soccer leagues through most of my 30s and 40s and in outdoor leagues for most of my 20s. You have to be careful with who you’re getting in with. If it’s truly casual, as in, “let’s go out and kick the ball around and have some fun,” then you’re good to go. However, any time the word “league” is thrown into the mix you will find extremely competitive people afoot (no pun intended). So that can turn un-fun real fast if you’re not into the whole, “fuck you … no fuck you!” aspect of the game.
It depends what you’re playing. If you’re looking to play full 11-a-side soccer, the big difference between will be the level of organisation on the pitch. For example the offside rule in my experience is only sparingly used in pick-up games, but in 11-a-side it is important and the defence must be organised so as not to play attackers on side and equally forwards and attacking midfielders must find a way of penetrating defences whilst remaining on side.
Something like 5-a-side is more fun and nearer to pick-up games, but the big difference is the pace. The pace of any decent 5-a-side football in frenetic and you have to be physically fit to even last 5 minutes on the pitch.
I’ll chip in. I last played soccer at age 11 or 12 but did play football into college. I got into indoor soccer 3 years ago and have enjoyed it immensely. I don’t watch much sports on TV but do know soccer (off-side trap, etc.) but don’t really know the intricacies or when/where to pass to keep the momentum of my teammates moving.
Some general observations/recommendations (this is an over 40 league in seattle which is probably 50/50 U.S./grew up elsewhere):
Americans are better athletes in running hustling, etc. but don’t have the ball handling skills or control
Eastern Europeans and Latin Americans are brutal with their hustling to the ball and their body checking
90+% of people are there to have a good time- everyone knows within 5 minutes the jerks on either team and gives them greater leeway.
Most people have a favorite foot especially for shooting- very few good shots (or even dribblers) with both feet
Hustle and try to improve (If you are learning, sub yourself out often.)
People like to help others so ask people that you respect on your team about how to improve your game or where to step up
On defense, slow down the dribbler and keep the ball outside if nothing else.
Talk to others around you- let them know what you are doing. Also yell “I’ve got it.” or “I’ve got him” or “SOmeone pick up the guy on the left”
Get in the walls - let more skillful people defend the potential plays
Go to the ball quickly:
a. passes often go awry- come back to them don’t wait for the ball to get to you
b. on defense coming up to the ball dribbler will cause them to pass 90% of the time (no need to overcommit)
c. Free kicks/ throw ins - get in position or take it quickly. In amateur soccer as in youth soccer, these are huge advantages as the other team doesn’t hustle back
Keep your passes and shots down- practice this. As people get tired, their form goes to crap and they start kicking field goals.
never stop moving: Get open, make a break, hustle back. If you aren’t ever getting the ball, try something new. If your teammate has a break toward the goal, tail him as most goals are made on 2nd shots or off of ricochets or else be there for a quick flick pass as their defense collapses.
Lastly, practice on your own. Get a good ball and dribble it around for 10 minutes a night. Learn how to change course and make a good first move (after a fake).
Go for it. Our team started as a bunch of misfits, but after playing together and honing our skills and getting in shape, we are pretty good and have learned to know where people will be and how far to lead them, etc. It took time, but it’s been a lot of fun. The jerks who would complain about a players’ skills on our team have come and gone- usually trying to find a more competitive and winning team (where they have a tendency to flame out rather quickly).
I’ve played five/six a side football pretty much all my life, and 11 a side (friendly games and organised league games) for a fair chunk of it. Small sided games are the best place to start and they’ll almost definitely be more casual/friendly than full size 11 a side games where you’d probably be expected to have a decent grasp of tactics / positions. You’ll also get more of the ball and your skills will improve quicker.
Football is great fun and a good way to make friends and get fit. The more experienced guys on your team will help you out. Try to watch what the better players do and think about why they’re doing it. Why has he taken up that position? He’s standing off the wee fast guy for a reason, he knows he can’t match him for pace but there’s a fair chance he’ll take a heavy touch which will let him nip in to intercept. If you play with the same group of guys regularly you’ll soon know how they play and where they’re going to go, it’ll get easier every week.
I endorse the tip to keep the ball down when shooting or passing. Too much people think they can blast the ball into the top corner like CR7 - these shots very rarely come off, most goals in five a sides are controlled shots placed into the corner.
I’m convinced that soccer is one of those games that anyone with decent coordination and motivation can play passably well. Obviously, at higher levels, that all changes, but at the heart of the game it’s about running and kicking, neither particularly difficult skills.
Playing a sport with specialized skills like golf or basketball or tennis will have you looking like an idiot for quite a while as you learn the skills, but soccer isn’t that kind of a game.
Again, this only applies at the lower amateur levels. I mean, most people can run, but not like Usain Bolt.
It’s also a very simple sport. You’re trying to get the ball into that goal over there without using your hands. Now try explaining football or baseball that simply.
I really don’t want to get mired in another argument about soccer not being a real sport or whatever, but it is a far cry from just running and kicking and getting the ball in that net over there. It’s like saying in baseball all you have to do is hit a ball with a stick and run in a circle.
It’s only easy at lower levels, for lack of a better term, if every one is at that lower level, but then a match would look like a bunch of spazzes just running around and kicking a ball all over hell and gone.
But isn’t that true of all sports? A baseball game with all first time players would be just as easy for everybody involved, and look just as goofy.
I said that it was simple, not that it was easy. Of course how easy or hard a sport is depends on whom you’re playing against, not on what sport it is. But how simple or complicated a sport is is a property of the sport itself.
And who said anything that could be construed as soccer not being a real sport?
Every other thread with the word “soccer” in it on this board, essentially.
If its like softball I’m guessing its hard.
I don’t think that is true for any sport, let alone football. The “running and kicking” skills required to play the game “passably well” are a large step up from the simple definitions of those words.
It really is, I’d suggest it is no easier to be a competent footballer than it is to be a competent golfer, tennis player or basketball player.
I think people are overthinking this.
The question the OP is asking is whether he’s going to fit in, really, and have fun. Nobody in the thread knows because* we don’t know what the league is like*.
Of course soccer takes awhile to learn, though as has been pointed out if you’re fit, hustle, and learn to make a decent pass you should be okay in a rec league. What matters is the attitude and culture of the league. I have played in sports leagues where the skill level wasn’t impressive but the competitiveness level was at “total asshole” levels, and I’ve played in leagues where the same team had someone who was a tremendous player and someone who could barely walk straight and everyone was supportive and fun.
The OP should just give it a try. Buy a soccer ball, take it out to a field with a friend, and kick it around. Spend a few afternoons practising dribbling, passing, and just kicking the hell out of it. When you start playing, hustle and cover your position and you should be fine unless the league is absolutely rife with dickheads.
Quoted in its entirety because it is spot-on.
Good advice, but I’d also recommend practising your first touch; that is, receiving the ball and with one touch putting the ball in place where you can control what you do with it. It’s one of the most important skills in soccer.
Good luck to the OP, it’s a great game, you’ll probably ache after the first couple of games but after the muscles have got used to it you’ll be addicted.
Very complete sport. You need to train 1 hour every day.