Physicality; the difference between good and great players

Training with NIKE Football

Words by Jacob Arnott | Images by Aleks Jason


When surveying a group of semi-professional footballers you will generally find a high degree of talented footballers. They display an impressive technical stature, a focused mentality, and a strong tactical understanding of a game. To most, the player appears ripe for the picking by a top-grade club and to take their game to the next level. However, the biggest area that seems to holds good footballers back from becoming great footballers is their physical abilities.

As the game has developed into a fully-professional, globalised commodity; clubs expect their players to be just as good athletes as they are footballers. Speed, strength, fitness, and endurance have become mandatory characteristics of equal importance to skill, technique, control and accuracy.

“I think especially the way football is now, you have to be a very good athlete as well as a footballer,” Socceroo and Nike Most Wanted 2011 winner, Tom Rogic told THE TURF.

“In games you see a lot of teams pressing, working really hard with and without the ball. It’s definitely an important part of football these days.”

Over the past five years, Rogic’s journey with football has been that of a rising star.

A year in the Nike Academy saw him sign with the Central Coast Mariners, before moving to Scottish superclub, Celtic. A hallmark of Rogic’s rise to prominence has been his relentless focus on developing his physical strength and endurance.

Whilst Rogic has “elegant and excellent technique,” as his former Celtic manager, Neil Lennon put it; Rogic’s rigorous focus on developing his fitness and strength has seen him advance into a Celtic and national team regular.

“It is vital that players are at peak physical performance,” Nike Academy Most Wanted Australia coach, Jas Virdee, told THE TURF.

“Professional clubs more than ever are looking for the complete player; players need to be able to dominate in the middle of the park and in set pieces whilst also being able to exploit space with their speed.”

Leading up to the Nike Academy Global Showcase, Virdee stressed the need for Australia and New Zealand representatives, Jacob Sullivan and Jake Mechell, to continue to develop their speed and fitness to ensure they can perform at the highest level throughout the entire showcase. Virdee recommended the ‘Mark Fast’ drill, available on the Nike Football App, to help Jacob and Jake improve their explosive power.

“The Mark Fast Drill is looking to improve player anticipation, lateral movement, marking, and explosiveness from a relatively stationary position.”

“The drill has you and an opponent tethered by an evasion belt. Matching and anticipating your opponent’s lateral movement, once the belt breaks, you both explode off the mark towards the football.”

You too can now unlock a range of drills and training exercises used by elite clubs and professional footballers through the new and improved, Nike Football App. Access a range of drills and tutorials from Nike Academy coaches which are designed to help you become a better footballer.

Download the NIKE Football App on iPhone and Android.

This post is sponsored by Nike.