The Many Benefits of Barefoot Soccer Training

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

What are the benefits of barefoot soccer training? Barefoot soccer training is a way of training that has been around for centuries, way before the official game was established.

One of the main reasons soccer is called the beautiful game is because it is so simple to play all you really need is a ball and your bare feet. Believe it or not many of the best players in the history of soccer spent a lot of time training barefoot, which helped them develop a feel for the ball that cannot be replicated with soccer cleats.

In this blog we will go over the many benefits of playing barefoot soccer far beyond what you may be expecting.

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Understanding The Feet

The human foot is one of the most complex designs created by nature and it is made of 26 bones, 56 joints, and over 100 different muscles. There are right and wrong ways to engage the feet and one of the correct ways is by applying fascial tension to the feet; this means you know how to retract the toes, you can properly engage the arch and prevent it from collapsing, and you know how to properly lock your ankle.

How well you can control your feet dictates how well you can control the rest of the body because:

  • your feet are the first thing in contact with the ground
  • your feet are your base of support for balance
  • your feet have a lot of nerve endings connected to all of your organs, muscles, and fascia
  • your feet are sensory organs, just like your eyes and ears

When you are barefoot you no longer rely on the cushion of the shoes to protect you and it forces you to make sure you use your feet correctly.

barefoot soccer

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Benefits of Barefoot Soccer Training

There are many benefits to training barefoot that go far beyond athletic development, but let’s go over all of them.

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All Top Footballers Grew Up Playing Barefoot

Almost all world-class professional soccer players you can think of, such as Messi, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Neymar, Zlatan, and many more, grew up playing soccer barefoot throughout their entire childhood. Think back to the last time you played soccer barefoot.

Have you ever played soccer barefoot? Were you playing on a hard surface like concrete or a softer surface like grass? Did you have pain anywhere when playing barefoot or were you able to play with confidence?

Playing soccer barefoot is a great way to test a player’s natural athletic abilities. For example, all, if not most fans of the game know that Brazilians are some of the best footballers, due to Brazil winning the most World Cups and constantly generating world-class talents. A lot of these talents from Brazil grew up playing barefoot throughout their entire childhood and this is one of the reasons they are so good.

Imagine how much better you’d get if all you did throughout your childhood was play soccer all day, outside in the sun, with all types of players, and barefoot a lot of the time. Playing soccer barefoot on hard surfaces like concrete is not as easy as it seems and it requires different types of focus, strength, and body control, which will directly translate to improving your performance on the field.

barefoot soccer Image by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz

How to Play Barefoot on Hard Surfaces

Playing barefoot soccer on grass may be something you are comfortable doing, but doing it on concrete is a different story. As I mentioned earlier some of the best players grew up playing barefoot soccer even on concrete, rocks, or anything and it did not matter to them because all they wanted to do was play the game and have fun.

Here are some tips to help you build up to being able to play barefoot comfortably on harder surfaces.

  • regain full foot function and learn to apply fascial tension to your feet
  • Spend more time barefoot and less time in shoes
  • start off playing a lot of barefoot soccer on softer surfaces like grass
  • slowly transition to playing on harder surfaces by getting used to juggling barefoot on concrete
  • make the barefoot sessions more and more challenging
  • go on barefoot walks more often
  • start wearing barefoot shoes whenever you have to wear shoes
  • roll out the bottom of your foot with a spiky ball or a acupuncture mat

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, will help you get closer to making your dreams a reality. Football Entangled is also a huge advocate of barefoot training and many of the other topics on this blog post.

What is the difference between barefoot running and running with shoes?

Barefoot running allows you to feel the ground more and allows you to run more with the ball of your feet, or the forefoot. However, running barefoot provides a lot of force to the feet and it is something that you have to work yourself up to to avoid injury.

You can begin your careful transition to barefoot running by getting rid of modern cushioned shoes with a narrow toe box and opting to use minimalist or barefoot shoes.

What are the best barefoot shoes for soccer players?

There are a lot of good barefoot shoe options for soccer players but my personal favorites are the Primus Trail by Vivobarefoot and Xero shoes. I would not recommend using any barefoot soccer cleats, or minimalist cleats, because there are not any on the market that are really high quality. If you want cleats that let your feet breathe, since most soccer cleats have a snug fit, it is best to use wide soccer cleats, ideally made from soft leather. In my opinion the best leather soccer cleats are the Nike Tiempo Legend Elite.

Conclusion

In conclusion, barefoot training is one of the best ways for soccer players, and all athletes in general, to improve their overall athleticism and soccer skills. The foot is a very complex structure and players have to make sure that they have full foot and toe function, otherwise they are missing out on their full athletic potential.

Another reason soccer players should be training barefoot is because if they train on natural land they can get the benefits of grounding therapy, which will not work if you are barefoot on turf or artificial grass.

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