A local league football match

Another new year lies ahead, and it’s time to get your priorities in place for what lies ahead in your footballing career. Use these seven New Year’s resolutions to improve your game – and your team’s fortunes.

1. I will work on my technique at every opportunity

Ask Cristiano Ronaldo or David Beckham, and they will tell you that constant practice and going the extra mile in training allowed them to continue improving their game throughout their career.

The moment you think that you’ve perfected your technique is the moment you stop improving.

Most training sessions have to include time for tactics, fitness, strength and conditioning – leaving very little time for the development of  your technique.

Set aside around 20 minutes at the end of your official training sessions to work on your touch, control, shooting and passing. You can turn your garden into a makeshift training area, or commit to taking a ball with you on your days out.

Always look for opportunities to work on the technical areas of your game, and you will continue to improve as a footballer well into your 30s.

2. I will maintain a healthy body weight throughout the year

Every footballer knows the sense of relief and excitement when the season ends. After months of watching your weight and staying in shape, you can relax a little – and start enjoying the treats you have been avoiding for so long.

While there is nothing wrong with letting your hair down during the close season, allowing your weight to spiral out of control is not good for either your general health or your level of performance. If you have to spend pre-season training losing the weight you gained during the summer, you won’t be at your best when the season finally kicks off.

During your breaks, continue to monitor your weight on a weekly basis, and address any weight gain with exercise and changes to your diet.

3. I won’t drink alcohol within 72 hours of a match

There are several reasons why alcohol is bad for your performance on the pitch. Firstly, it is a diuretic that can affect your hydration levels for several days. Secondly, excess alcohol consumption puts great strain on your liver, which can affect your energy levels.

However, what most people seem to forget when in it comes to alcohol is its calorific nature. The average glass of red wine contains around the same number of calories as a sugared donut – so drinking regularly could result in you gaining weight over a period of time.

Make a commitment to cutting out alcohol completely during the season. But if you really can’t imagine your life without the odd tipple, make sure you never consume alcohol within three days of a match.

4. I will work on my strength and conditioning throughout the year

A lot of footballers neglect strength and conditioning work in favour of cardiovascular work. However, the increasingly physical nature of the game means developing and maintaining core-body strength is essential.

You don’t need to commit to hitting the weights at the gym every day in order to improve your strength and conditioning; just buy yourself a few simple items of fitness equipment you can use at home. Kettlebells, resistance bands and medicine balls are just a few of the items that can help you to fulfil your New Year’s resolution to improve your strength and conditioning this year.

5. I will watch more football

Your journey towards football enlightenment should never end. Whether you pick up some pointers from a professional on TV or a Sunday League player at your local park, you can improve your football knowledge by watching football – lots of football. Stand on the touchline, support your local non-league team, go to more professional matches and watch as much football on TV as you can.

6. I’ll be a better teammate

Being a good teammate can help to develop the game of others – helping your team to achieve great things over the course of the season. Whether you offer to help your fellow players improve their technique or simply offer a shoulder to cry on through the tough times of a season, being their for teammates is very rewarding, and it can improve the overall performance of your team.

7. I’ll get at least seven hours of sleep every night

Sleep is crucial to every aspect of your game. Try to maintain a regular sleeping pattern, and avoid the temptation to have long lie-ins at the weekend.

If you find that you’re having trouble sleeping, remove anything that can cause distractions from your bedroom, including mobile phones, TVs, radios and gadgets. Try to minimise the amount of light in your bedroom, and find the right combination of room temperature and bedding. Also, consider using a sleep tracker in order to identify when during the night you’re losing sleep.

Making just a few changes to your schedules, lifestyle and rituals could drastically improve your footballing fortunes this year.