Be the Best: The Six Attributes every Professional Player Needs – Issue 1

In the first of two insights in academy life here at Moorland, we delve deeper in what has made the academy so successful and some of the inside ‘secrets’ on why Moorland continues to create exceptional football talent. 

Mr Jackson, who is the UK President of Matrix Soccer Academy, uses his tried and tested approach of six basic attributes to gain the very best out of our students at Moorland. His wealth of knowledge and experience really allows our young players to flourish and achieve their goals. Whether this is as a professional football player, or as a professional within the football/sport industry. 

Over the next two weeks we will be exploring the ‘Six A’s’ and how these are implemented into academy life. Today we start with the first three: Attitude, Ability and Awareness. 


Attitude is a key characteristic for every successful player, and it helps to enhance the learning process.

There are two essential areas of attitude in sports performance comprising of attitude towards training and competition and the attitude towards winning and losing.

Players need to recognise and establish their attitude towards training and competition. Those that have success within football are those that see training and competition as a chance to grow in the sport, test their personal, physical, mental boundaries and abilities and test their leadership and decision-making skills.

The second attitude develops into a personal and life definition of winning and losing. It is important that an athlete recognises that win or lose, sporting and life lessons can be learned. If an athlete can learn from winning or losing, they can apply the lessons in the next game or competition or even into their everyday life. Athletes naturally want to win, and it is necessary for them use a loss to renew determination, focus on their skill sets and learn from mistakes or errors made in competition.

Our coaches take the responsibility to help establish and foster this attitude in the player. By offering the athlete the support with their attitude towards training and competition the coaches are assisting in the development and progression in the performance as well as personal development.


The best players work long and hard on improving and refining their technical ability and we encourage the same dedication. When developing as a footballer, young people need to understand that there are no shortcuts, and they will need to have a willingness to embrace pushing themselves in every session which will ultimately be paramount in their success.

The football programme is a skills-based academy system for young players and is highly rated by many international coaches and players. It is a paradigm shift in how footballers can and should be developed. The system is based around thousands of carefully designed technical practices using real game scenarios in a high contextual, peer-led environment that is proven to develop footballing skills.

The programme guarantees hundreds more touches of the ball for each player than any other programme. Technical training begins with executing moves and turns that the children are encouraged to practice at home to ensure they are at a proficient level. This in turn will allow them to use them competently when required to in game situations. Our training sessions then move on to dynamic passing practices that make us so unique. Every practice and progression is tailored for each group and stretches and challenges everyone involved. The football philosophy is based on possession, and it is these practices that bring it to life. By repeating technical actions, it leads to habitual patterns of play, to a point where complexities become simple. It is the relentless repetition that allow players to be technically sound with the ability to interchange positions on the pitch.

We use small-sided games to offer numerous benefits, but the principal purpose is to allow players the opportunity to take what they’ve learned and apply them in to game scenarios. By using small-sided games we can ensure individual technical and tactical development, ensure players have more involvement in matches and heighten the positional exposure.


The academy method develops a player’s vision and awareness; teaching each player to read the game and be conscious of teammates.

Developing these areas are vital, especially for young players. Players need to create good habits of scanning before receiving the ball to create pictures of the pitch which helps them to make decisions on what the next move is going to be.

The training of visual skills for athletic performance is becoming more and more important in training individuals. Where the majority of coaches and athletes are in the dark about the benefits of perceptual training but those at the highest level are steamrolling ahead.  Footballers will get 85% of their information through their eyes but normal people only tend to use 40% of their senses.

Footballers can only perform as well as they are able to see and seeing the key elements of the game is a skill that everyone can learn. Our coaches can always be heard saying ‘play what you see’ and although the message is simple, it reminds players that they may be outnumbered going forward and that they need to reassess their options. This can often show how well the footballers have developed their awareness skills and with our practices, they need to be able to recognise what is happening in front of them in order to see windows of opportunity and spaces to move into.


Keen to know more? Keep your eyes peeled for our next blog, which will focus on the final three attributes of Ability, Attack and Achieve.