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The difference between an Amateur and Professional?

Discussion in 'Player' started by Khengi, May 16, 2011.

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  1. Khengi

    Khengi New Member

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    May 5, 2011
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    Nagano
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    Nagoya Grampus
    Country:
    Japan
    Aside from the fact that one gets paid lavishly and the other doesn't, what skills or mindset to the pro's have that the amateurs don't? I speak Japanese and am in love with the country, so I soon desire to take a tryout (or Selection in Japanese) to play for the JFL team Matsumoto Yamaga in my girlfriend's hometown. When I watch their games, however, I don't see *too* much difference between them and me.

    For those of you not familiar with the Japanese Football Association, the JFL is the second lowest tier, second only to the Regional Leagues which is probably weaker than most high end High School teams. JFL teams have the opportunity to rise to the J League 2nd Division, where they are considered 'professionals' from then on, even though they do receive a somewhat low salary in the JFL. The J League 1st Division is the big leagues, with players making near a million dollars in the high ups. It's clear why those players are where they are when you watch their matches.

    And yet, still, I come back to Matsumoto Yamaga, a team doing decent in the JFL and are favorites to rise to the J2 (J League 2nd Division) at the end of this year. What is the difference between me (the amateur) and them (the pros)?

    Is it the trapping? The ball control and receiving? Accuracy on shot? Ability to handle pressure? Physical fitness? Judgment on the pitch? Something else?

    I came across this not just through Matsumoto Yamaga, but in general. If Landon Donovan and I went 1 v 1 and I got lucky and beat him, does this essentially mean I am now worth as much as he is? What do the professionals have that the amateur's don't? I would assume raw talent (accuracy, power, weak leg ability, balance, heading, receiving, dribbling, control, etc.) are obvious pluses, but what about these professional players I see that may be leagues below some of their teammates in terms of ability?

    And, quite possibly, I'm just nervous about the tryout and am just ranting. Hopefully someone will join in my madness (this thread) and help me sort out my questions or at least offer me the classic 'you're not worried about what you think you're worried about' psychological solution.

    Does anyone even understand what I'm getting at? Hahaha, Mountain Dew in one hand and a Football at my feet makes for an interesting combination.

    Edit: Just in case anyone wants to see my favorite team, here's a link to a small fan made highlight. This guy often puts up multiple videos of the majority of the game a few hours after the game.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJiQcsFTcHo&NR=1"]YouTube - ???? VS V??????????[/ame]

    Opening text just states stuff like what players are in/out and Penalty kicks and the like.
     


  2. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

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    I think the main difference is speed of thought. Many amateurs are easily the equal of professionals as far as technical skills or athleticism, but can't make the jump because they just don't make decisions quickly enough. By the time an amateur sees a teammate making a run, the pro has already released a pass to that teammate. By the time an amateur makes the decision to take on an opponent 1v1, the pro is already making his first step. Learning that takes repetition in game situations, and a lot of it.
     
  3. Becks7

    Becks7 Member

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    I would second Elninho and include other secondary attributes

    -consistency in technical skills
    -professionalism (not always true, but people at a higher level often take it more seriously and take better care of themselves)
    -reinforced tactical skills meaning they know the ins and outs of positioning, communication etc
     
  4. snolly g

    snolly g Member

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    all good points.

    i will make one last point though... these days, the pros who are really paid a lot (as opposed to your regular pro) are marketable.

    that either means they're good-looking (ronaldo, henry, beckham, etc.) or they have very "distinctive" looks (gattuso, ribery, etc.)
     


  5. ranova

    ranova Member

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    The very best amatuers are no different than the lowest level professional player, except that the amatuers are paid more money by their employer. Only the top professional players are paid lavishly. As for the difference between a typical good (competitive) amatuer player and a successful professional player, about 2-4 years of high level training.

    To fit my definition of a typical good competitive amatuer, the player needs to be match fit and have a "winning" mentality, same as successful professionals need. Every once in a while you will see an amatuer team knock off a professional team in the US Open Cup. The difference between pros and top amatuers is not as much as you might think.
     
  6. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    One thing not mentioned is being a better athlete. I think pros would be surprisingly quick and agile if you played against them. Strength. I bet players like Messi and Iniesta would surprise you with their ability to ride out challenges.

    There are many top amateurs that are great athletes but they are missing the soccer qualities.
     
  7. Khengi

    Khengi New Member

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    Aside from repetition in game situations, can this skill be increased by simply watching games with an analytical outlook? If so, what should I be looking for?
     
  8. Khalid_9

    Khalid_9 New Member

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    I was in the same position as you about a year ago, wondering what the main difference is. Now that I'm playing with an MLS reserves team, the main difference I've noticed is Speed of play and Consistency(Assuming that you already have technical ability like you said). In the beginning I had a somewhat hard time adapting to how fast everything was going especially playing forward. As soon as i received the ball and about to lay off or try and turn the defender, there were already 2 defenders on me and the other closing the passing lane. You always have to know what you want to do with the ball before you receive it. In regards to consistency, at this level you cant afford to have a bad day unless you're an already established player and well known, the day you have a bad game/touch/lack of concentration is the day your on the bench or worse out of contract. One more thing worth mentioning is before your tryout, make sure your in the best shape of your life and hustle your ass off on every play. Pro teams love high work rates a.k.a players like tevez. Good luck!
     
  9. Khengi

    Khengi New Member

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    This was a great post! A lot I learned from this, and I definitely can't have a bad day in the higher leagues.
     
  10. laure23

    laure23 Member

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    I read a book by an ex-EPL manager who said a similar thing. According to him that's the main thing that separates EPL players from lower league players.

    What prevents a lower league player from playing in the top league is the consistency level.

    Goalkeeping is a classic example, the most consistent players are the ones playing in the best leagues.
     
  11. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    And that's a problem with the American system. There'd be no room for guys like Fabregas, who are more cerebral. From youth up to the NT, everything is solved with work rate, strength, speed, athleticism.

    If you asked someone what the characteristics of the Spanish, Brazilian teams? Control, movement, creativity, etc. They have the above qualities too, but it doesn't define them the way it does the USA. Those things like work rate, strenght, speed/quickness, athleticism exist IN SERVICE to control, movement, creativity, ideas, discipline, etc.

    In all fairness you did mention the importance of control and touch.

    Guys like Gerrard, Scholes, Messi, came into their youth systems as small, weak, skinny, unathletic kids. Scholes had asthma and couldn't run very well. Point is physical conditioning is a very poor indicator of your upside as a professional.
     
  12. aguimarães

    aguimarães Member

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    Professionals unlike amateurs are espected to be more or less perfect, but the biggest differences lie in the ability to handle pressure (bad tempered matches and hostile crowds,) speed of thought, and consistency. In general, pros are expected to put the majority of their shots on goal, be able to consistently make accurate one touch passes, give accurate long balls, head the ball accurately, be able to control the ball quickly with their chest, thighs, and feet, use their body properly, have a decent dribble (more will be expected of wingers and playmakers,) and make correct off the ball movements.

    Also, amateurs tend to train a couple of days a week (as they work other jobs) while professionals are paid to train every day (often twice) so they can fully concentrated on their game. They may put extra time in away from team practice or play amateur/FUTSAL in the off season to keep themselves sharp.

    Unfortunately results trump everything else at the professional level (ends justify the means mentality.) Coaches usually pay closer attention to tactics and defending, and defenders will try and take the ball off you at all costs.
     
  13. laure23

    laure23 Member

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    Physical conditioning may not be an indicator of being a good player but I think it's a basic component of being a professional.

    Most professionals seem to be athletes. I don't think any coach/club is going to give a salary to a player who isn't an athlete.

    I see professionals as athletes who have soccer abilities. When players get old they lose their athleticism. That's why they're forced to retire.
     
  14. ranova

    ranova Member

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    You are taking his comments out of context. Being match fit is a requirement for senior competitive play, both amatuer and professional.

    What elassar78 is referring to is physical condition in a youth as being a predictor of future performance as an adult. It is not.

    Current physical condition, however, is a predictor of current performance, and unfortuneately some youth coaches select youth for elite programs based on current performance rather than current skills.

    You expect that in a non-development situation, but a development program should look past today's results at the players' future potential as adults.
     
  15. laure23

    laure23 Member

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    The thing is that I disagree with Elassar78's assessment that Gerrard, Messi, Scholes and Giggs weren't physically gifted as kids. I know about Messi's problems but that was when he was a pre-teen.

    Paul Scholes maybe short but at one point in his career he was known for having exceptional endurance. Giggs and Messi were lightning quick as rookies and Gerrard made his debut as an 18 year old kid in one of the most physical leagues in Europe.
     
  16. mak9

    mak9 Member

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    This is very true, and IMO the approach EPL and MLS are taking in terms of football is becoming a primitive approach.

    Football is changing today at a fast rate, it is now more like a chess game then a boot&chase game.

    Sure players should have pre-requisite skills required to play boot&chase, but top teams are now more focused on getting intelligent players that play like barca. Short passing on the ground with both feet, setter goals only, smart dribbling in upper-third only, high-tempo defending ...etc.


    about pro vs amateur:

    -The two worlds are coming closer and closer, it is getting to a point where luck/money and who-you-know will help you get a contract. To be a top-tier player that plays for NT, you have to have perfect skills and high-cardio. Essentially, a NT pro has "infinite" stamina.

    -10 years ago, the difference was, a pro player can last playing 250 days of football and not nag about injuries. Today the conditions are a lot better, so the difference is now who can survive cardio-intense practices 250 days a year. In fact some teams have practices that are much more intense than a competitive league game.

    -Skill wise, proficient with both feet. Can make 30-40 feet passeS accurately and on the ground with the weaker leg. Can dribble smartly to get out of tight situations. Checking both shoulders every 2 seconds is an innate behavior for a pro (you should drive manual car to master this skill).

    -Tactic wise, pros know how to defend as a TEAM. The trend now is that the second you lose the ball in the opponent's half, you have to triple up with your teammates to get the ball before it rolls into your team's half. Essentially the pro has the awareness of all the passing angles and knows how to close them down as the opponent is moving with the ball. If you ever watch barca, they get 6 players to close down an opponent when they lose the ball; like a pack of wolves!

    -Finally, as I mentioned earlier, the professional practices are more intense that games themselves. You may think that you can play along them in a match, but can you practice with them without making any mistakes? Here is an example of a typical drill they have in practice: Play 15-30 min in the penalty box 9v9 (or 10v10), 1-2 touch ground passes only, if you make a mistake, run around the whole field while your team suffers a man-short. In this drill when an opponent has the ball, the 3 closest players have to close him down.
     
  17. Khengi

    Khengi New Member

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    Mak9, that was a great post!

    Here's something else I've had on my mind. As I'm going for a Japanese team, it helps that I speak Japanese. However, as I am not in Japan at the moment, I have no way of speaking with like-minded Japanese about Japanese Football (girlfriend is Japanese but knows only what I teach her, haha).

    I hit up the Japanese google and looked up Football Bulletin Boards as well as some online chats in Japanese. Got acquainted with multiple people until I finally found one Japanese individual with a great attitude and HIGH amount of knowledge of Japanese Football.

    From what he says, it's not just about the ball control, speed, power or all that. It's about a special ability that you have. When he asked what mine was, I responded: Aggressive Stamina.

    Simply put, I'm one of the rare people that sprint the 90 minutes. And when I say sprint, I mean run and pressure any opponent with the ball in a 20 feet radius of me through the entire game. I pressure a lot, and this often ends up in a stolen ball and we're back with possession, which is also how I got the nickname 'Rottweiler" (Edgar?).

    He essentially said that this is a magnificent ability that won't be overlooked. But will it be enough? I've got a good shot, can curve, knuckle, and drive the ball from most distances, accurate passing on the ground and air, good judgment, and never-ending stamina. But is it enough?

    And, allow me to say this as clearly as I can: when I say never-ending stamina, I MEAN never-ending stamina. While everyone is jogging toward the end of the game I'm still bursting full speed, sliding and recovering just to slide again. Is this a useful ability? It works when I play pick-up games, but is it enough in the pro-leagues? I would go as far to say that I have professional-level stamina, and our pick up games usually go until 30 points (when we play world cup or full field), and I actively try to get at least half of those while always pressuring for the ball. I don't have professional level 'anything else', though, haha. Not yet...!
     
  18. mak9

    mak9 Member

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    khengi,

    Having the stamina helps a lot which is great, and if you can combine it with skills you will no doubt be called up for NT practice/game (if you have Japanese citizenship).

    I suggest when you train on your own, after you run at a high intensity, try to work on making firm ground passes. This will help develop muscle memory during intense periods of the game.

    You should watch this clip to see what an average game feels like.. although the passing in this clip is almost perfect, the intensity is similar to what you get in any pro game.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuT4Msm6s5w&feature=related"]YouTube - ‪Zidane - A 21th Century Portrait - best scene‬‏[/ame]
     
  19. Khengi

    Khengi New Member

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    Wow, I almost felt overwhelmed just by watching it... I need to work on my close control. I'm quick, but I'm sure I'm not entirely too fast. I'm agile, so I try to use close ball control before I can pass or shoot. Is this a movie? I'd like to watch it.

    What exactly do you think seperates the pro and, of course, the National Team Player? (taking this thread to another level, haha)
     
  20. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

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    Still the same thing. Speed of thought is the big one, with consistency also important.

    Just like there are many amateurs with great technique and all the physical tools who can't make the step to the professional level because they can't think fast enough, there are many pros who are as technically skilled and athletic as national team players who don't think quickly enough to succeed at the national team level.

    In fact, I'd say speed of thought is even more important than technical ability at some point, because you can't use any of that technical ability if you haven't decided what to do with it.
     
  21. Khengi

    Khengi New Member

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    This speed of thought thing everyone is talking about is getting me really worried. I feel like I don't have that yet. Aside from simply playing the game, what more should I do? I've found that I've watched so much Football that I'll often anticipate what players do before they do it, or grow angry when they don't do what I feel they should have (like when I watched a game the other day and felt "come on, switch the ball to the left side", and the next thing you know, the winger of the other side was raising his hand for a pass!).

    I really, really need to increase this speed of thought. As lame as this sounds, would playing games like FIFA and PES at time where I can't play Football help?
     
  22. aguimarães

    aguimarães Member

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    :confused:
     
  23. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    It comes with playing. The more you play, the faster your reaction to situations will be. It is a matter of hot wiring your brain to your body. Playing video games will make you faster playing video games.
     
  24. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

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    Playing small-sided games in the 4v4 to 7v7 range probably helps the most. Enough players on the field to make decisions reasonably complex, and few enough players to force you to make decisions all the time.
     
  25. Khengi

    Khengi New Member

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    I must have worded it awkwardly, haha. What I mean is I've developed that 'Football sense' where I can tell what should be done whether or not it happens. Essentially, I just got the patterns down pact and can tell when a player is making a run or in a good position for a pass/cross. Everyone gets it after a while, just took me a minute.

    @Rca2: Yeah, I just spent an hour playing Winning Eleven and, man, it's easier playing for real than a game. I just don't have the vision or control on a game that I have in real life.

    @Elninho: We often try playing little pressure games like that like we did today. Good to know that they do indeed help.
     
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