How skillful is soccer?

Some friends of mine really don’t appreciate soccer. They claim there isn’t much skill involved compared to other sports.

-Raphael van der Vaart vs Feyenoord, a little while ago
-Dennis Bergkamp vs Argentina, WC 1998
-Roberto Carlos vs France, 1997
-Zidane’s volley in the champions league vs Bayer Leverkusen

Those are all great goals. How would their difficulty compare to the big three American sports (football, baseball, and basketball)? How about compared to things that aren’t sports related?

Your friends have their brains screwed in backwards. Soccer requires a tremendous amount of skill, grace, coordination and teamwork, not to mention unthinkable endurance, as does basketball. Baseball doesn’t really require endurance, but definately requires a lot of skill and teamwork. Football is just fucking stupid.

Top soccer players in the UK get paid in the region of £50000 a week. If they were unskilled, and anyone could do it, then everyone would. Sounds like the standard BS from the anti-soccer crowd to me.

Not a soccer* fan really but WTF? At the highest level (some top clubs and international) it’s an incredibly skilled game. What (ahem) soccer have these guys seen?

Also you’re not allowed to substitute half the team every time the play changes direction. And play doesn’t stop every fifteen secords.

*No-one calls it that here, in Wales maybe where ‘football’ means rugby.

You might ask your friends this,

If the game is so easy, and has so little skill, then why are they not playing professionally and getting paid upwards of $100k per week.

Afer all it has little or no skill according to them, perhaps they should cash in.

They could join players such as Luis Figo, Ronaldo, Ronaldhino, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham.

Soccer genrally requires a very high level of skill, though aplayer could be a reaonable central defender without a huge amount skill (see Tony Adams who is currently residing in Torquay Donkey sanctuary after a very successful but skilless career).

As a comparison for skill level I’d go with basketball which is also a very skillful sport, though at the risk of bein subjective I’d say that the top (international) level soccer players require more ‘skill’ than top level basketball players by virtue of the fact there is a much larger pool of soccer players than basketball players in the world.

You don’t even need to look at the top players to see how much a little skill can change things in soccer.

I’ve played for long time and now play in a rec. league. In this league we end up with many players from other sports. They do well with the running and general defensive challenges, but it is so easy to take the ball away when they need to show skill. Plus with just a little bit of dribbling skill, I can quickly go around these players.

This is not because they are bad athletes or that I’m great (I’m very average.) It is because they haven’t reached the same skill level. Most of these guys are better athletes than me, but the major difference is skill.

Skill is the usually the defining difference in soccer games at all levels. If skill levels are even, then it comes down to other factors.

It sounds like these friends haven’t watched much soccer. It’s a pity, but they’re the ones missing out.

Just try playing soccer and you’ll have an appreciation for how much skill is required.

Basketball? Why not get really really tall people to play it to make it even easier to reach the basket? Where’s the skill in that?

I know players such as Jordan and O Neal earn a lot of money but I am amazed how disproportionate it seems to be to real talent, effort and skill compared to Soccer.

All you need do is play keep away with someone who’s played before for about 60 seconds to see first-hand how much skill there is. If your friends have never played (and it sounds like they haven’t), tell them to go to the local soccer field and find even a few 15 year-old kids (male OR female) who’ve played for say one or two seasons, and have them play the friends 3 on 3. It’ll be laughable, so maybe bring your camcorder. The friends will see how much skill even a kid will pick up over a short time. Then think about the contrast to professional adult players.

When I was a kid playing soccer, if someone on the other team hadn’t played before, their effectivness was essentially reduced to slow-moving pylons. One guy could litterally dribble circles around 3-4 novices without having them ever be able to touch the ball - this went for kids my own age or adults with much more athletic prowess than myself. It was litterally child’s play to beat anyone without a couple years of consistent practice - and I was barely average. My older brother was on a list of 3-4 alternate players to play on the Canadian Olympic team in 1988, and there was no way I could keep up with him. Average pros are another class above that, before you even get into the best players.

Soccer is a world game. It didn’t get to be that by luck. The skills of the best players are appreciated by fans all over the world. Ask your friends why 33 billion viewers watched the 64 matches in the 1998 World Cup. The final was watched by 1 Billion viewers.
Why do some of the biggest companies in the US sponsor soccer? Not because they’re philanthropists I’m sure. It’s a skillful game that people love to watch.


I knew of only 1 football player that successfully crossed over in High School. By successfully I mean “good”. I would put Soccer above baseball and football in skill (with the exception of the QB)and I’m not sure how I would rank basketball. It takes a lot of skill in basketball but then people start with better eye/hand coordination than eye/foot coordination. I like to watch baseball or even listen to it. .

Golfers impress the hell out of me with their skill level but I can’t give any points for physical difficulty. Can’t imagine a Golfer running 2 miles in 12 minutes as a warm up to wind sprints.

Circle track or grand prix racing is probably the most grueling of the popular sports and it requires a tremendous level of concentration in addition to skill.

I enjoy both basketball and soccer and I think you are selling short the skills of Shaquille O’Neal. Not only is he big, but he is also quite agile. So you have a big guy who can move. That’s quite a combination. The guy also runs quite a bit during the game and usually is matched up against a series of opponents whose primary tactic in stopping him is to hack him once he gets the ball. The play underneath the basket in the NBA is quite brutal.

And Michael Jordan’s basketball skills at his prime were a lot better than anyone else playing the game.

“A big guy that can move. and runs a bit”
Have you seen the size of a soccer pitch ? They can’t use their hands, by the way and they have to cover a much much wider area. You don’t get the high scores as in basketball - getting a goal is harder! O Neal may be considered skilled compared with other basket ball players but that is relative and when comparing the skills and athletic ability of soccer and basket abllity there is no contest in my opinion . You don’t get so many “freaky” seven plus footers in soccer - you can make your mark despite your anatomy.

Patr100, have you ever actually played basketball? It’s pretty incomperable to soccer, and both sports require enourmous skill and endurance. You’re comparing apples to orangutans, and it’s making you look like an ass.

Football (soccer) definitely ranks up there in skill level required. Give each of your friends a football and tell them to do ten kick-ups without letting the ball touch the ground. Coordination and skill are very important in this game. I’m hardly a good football player, something that seems so simple like dribbling a football around cones is extremely difficult and requires a lot of concentration on my part.

I do, however, disagree with this. If it was as easy as getting “really tall people” on the court, why don’t we have a bunch of 30+ point scorers at the moment from all those 7+ footers? Basketball, along with football, both require tremendous amount of skill but in different ways.

Well I know my friends can’t do much with a soccerball, but I can’t throw a curveball either so that argument doesn’t get me much. I suppose you could compare some freekicks to throwing a curveball with your foot so maybe that comparison would work.

I have a simple way to assess this: if a sport can be played at the highest level by players of ordinary build, then the differentiating factor is skill. Hence soccer and baseball (exceptions for McGwire, Canseco and a few other possibly steriod-created behemoths) require great skill. Basketball, and to a large extent football, are less skilled as your average 5’ 10", 170 lb guy has no chance of skill making up for lack of physical size.

Soccer is for pantywaists. Real men play craps. :slight_smile:

  • PW

I can’t agree. Different games favour different builds. Being 6’5" and 315lbs is an advantage for a O Lineman in the NFL, but it’s a disadvantage in most any other sport (and even most positions in football). Being of an “average” build is a disadvantage in basketball or football (for most positions, anyways), but is probably an advantage in soccer, and to a lesser degree in baseball. This is simply because there’s an athletic cost to carrying around extra size and weight. Those costs are well worth it in football and basketball due to the advantages they confer, but aren’t worth it in baseball or soccer where they don’t confer significant advantages.

None of that has anything whatsoever to the degree of skill that’s required to excel in any of these sports.