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Get yourself match fit: Top tips for footballers looking to up their game

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HK Dragons’ head coach Greg Ewins shares his top tips for footballers looking to up their game. Katrina Mercado reports.

We all know that to improve in a sport, one must be prepared to put in the hard work, and for footballers that involves doing what they love best – getting on the pitch. HK Dragons’ head coach Greg Ewins advises players to train two to three times a week, for anywhere from one to one-and-a-half hours per session. He also stresses that taking a rest day, every third day, is ideal.

“It’s important to remember that it is a team game and the only way to be successful is to work together,” Greg continues. “While the game encourages individual skills and creativity, without a strong team dynamic and philosophy, it will be close to impossible to win a match.”

Technique is perhaps the most visibly obvious element to success in football, and Greg recommends beginners start with individual ball work, particularly mastery and dribbling, then learn the four types of football touches: lace, inside, outside and sole. Once you get the hang of ball work, you can then start one-versus-one practice, with one attacker and one defender.

Good ball work calls for excellent balance and coordination, but players also need speed, strength and power to see them through an entire one-hour 30-minute game. “The game lasts for a long time and the pace is continually changing,” Greg explains. “There is a mix of sprints when chasing after the ball, and steady running while putting a play in place.”

A lot of players think that football prowess is all about leg work, and that upper-body and core strength are insignificant but this is definitely not the case. “Upper-body strength improves a player’s speed and power,” Greg says. “Not only that, there is also a higher chance of injury prevention because it helps improve balance and coordination. Core strength is essential in the game because this helps players with agility, balance and coordination.”

With regard to tactical knowledge, Greg says it’s important for players to develop quick and correct decision-making processes. “Players need to know when and how to initiate an attack, how to gain possession and how to efficiently pressure the opponents. Football is a mental game as much as it is a physical one.

“It takes years of practice to get a better understanding of the strategies. But that’s why it’s equally important to have good coaches,” Greg concludes.“Be positive, be prepared, be focused, be willing to learn and don’t forget to have fun.”


1. Technique – body and ball control, passing accuracy
2. Game intelligence – spatial awareness, tactical knowledge, risk assessment
3. Physical fitness – endurance, balance and coordination, speed
4. Proper mindset – mental strength, coachability, self-motivation

• HK Dragons, dragons.hk

Photo courtesy of dragons.hk

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