Become a better footballer

Lallianzuala Changte has been a permanent fixture with two-time champions Chennaiyin FC for the past two Indian Super League seasons.

His blistering pace down the flank, bludgeoning with deft skill and a tireless work rate is what sets him apart from most other players. And Chhangte believes that working on the basics of football during his youth is what has made all the difference in his quality on the pitch today.

“Speed ​​remains one of my strengths. But I worked very hard on my basic skills to get to this level,” he says.

Here, Chhangte selects the fundamental skills that he considers vital for the progression of any footballer.

Lallianzuala Changte

© Chennaiyin FC

These two basic tools are the most essential ingredients for the success of any footballer. Accuracy is key when it comes to passing and receiving. This makes open play smooth and ensures constant progression down the pitch which can translate into the creation of scoring opportunities.

“When you see the top leagues in the world, the ball doesn’t really stop once it’s received. It’s constantly moving in the direction it needs to go to develop the game,” Chhangte said.

According to him, receiving the ball correctly is the first step, which in turn can open up multiple options for making the right pass. A smooth transition can lead to promising attacking situations.

“If the pass is not good, there is a chance of losing the ball and giving the opponent the opportunity to counterattack. So these two skills work together and must be executed correctly,” says- he.

How to develop this skill: Practicing with another player by exchanging passes is the most basic exercise in developing this skill. You can also play 2v2 or 3v3 games in a very small area to further develop your passing ability. With no partner, Chhangte suggests passing the ball against a wall and receiving the ball from the rebound.

Every player needs precise shooting skills, especially attacking players like Chhangte. During the 2021-22 ISL season, Chhangte scored a howl against NorthEast United FC from outside the box which he says is a result of the work he put in during the off-season.

“I have to work on my shooting a lot. I always spend more time working on my shooting skills after regular practice. You need to develop power in your shot, but more importantly, you need precision and confidence when hitting,” he says.

How to develop this skill: A simple drill is to shoot at a goal, targeting a very specific corner of the goal to hit the ball towards with each shot. Chhangte recommends a variation on this drill by adding a defender in a 1v1 situation to further improve your skills for game situations.

When Chhangte had the chance to work with the Liverpool academy in 2016, he saw a marked difference in the way players approached the game.

“When the Europeans recover the ball, they already know where to pass. In India, you receive the ball and then decide which direction to pass. I think it’s important to know where you’re going to go before you even receive the ball,” says Chhangte.

How to develop this skill: To achieve this, Chhangte believes that raising awareness on the ground at all times is essential. To develop this skill, pay attention to the positions of players on the pitch during games, whether you are playing or just watching. Chhangte says the ability to make the right decision can only be mastered through experience.

It’s a regular sight to see Chhangte blazing on the pitch. But the pace can only be productive with the right ball control, balance and dribbling skills to beat the marker.

How to develop this skill: During training, Chhangte creates a grid using cones; then he has the ball at his feet and runs with it around obstacles, keeping the ball close to his body at all times. Change the position of the cones each time you practice this exercise. In addition to this exercise, you can also practice zigzag runs, up and down shuttles, diagonal dribbling, and work on each foot individually. As you improve your dribbling ability, reduce the gap between the cones to make the drill more difficult.

“It is important to work with the left foot and the right foot. I also find it very useful to have a defender who is constantly trying to take the ball from you while practicing dribbling,” says Chhangte.

Lallianzuala Chhangte during training

Lallianzuala Chhangte during training

© Chennaiyin FC

The header can be an essential goal-scoring tool during open play and in dead-ball situations. At the same time, he can be used effectively to clear the ball while defending or simply to pass.

By his own admission, the head is not Chhangte’s strong suit, given his small stature. Still, it’s something he’s constantly working on.

“I spend a lot of time on headers in practice where a partner usually gives me balls,” says Chhangte.

How to develop this skill: The simplest exercise is to ask a partner to throw the ball which you then return to him. A more advanced training drill is that of goalkeepers with just the head practiced with a group of players. For seasoned players, a small-scale game of scoring goals with only headers can be quite effective practice.

A player’s ball control can be critical in building play, especially when receiving the ball. Chhangte says he developed his ball control skills by simply juggling the ball at every opportunity.

“The idea is to feel the ball as often as possible – keep it at your feet or in the air and just move it all the time. The more you can do this, the more confidence you have in control,” says -he.

How to develop this skill: Practice exercises in which you have to control the ball with two touches; for example, passing drills in which you receive the ball from a partner and control it with one touch before returning it with the second touch. Progress to exercise practice with just one touch. Guardians are also useful for developing this skill.

Lallianzuala Chhangte during training

Lallianzuala Chhangte during training

© Chennaiyin FC

Chhangte thinks it’s important to have a few skills in the bag that can help a player beat the defender in 1v1 situations.

“There are many skills you can pick up on YouTube. The key is to master a few of them that you can confidently do well in the game, rather than knowing too much that you probably aren’t. sure,” Chhangte explains.

How to develop this skill: Research certain skills online and practice them over multiple reps until you’ve perfected them for use in game situations. Start with basic skills like the scissors move and progress to complex skills like the Cruyff Turn.

Many things can be done by a player without the ball being present at the feet. For example, a well-timed space race can create multiple attack chances for the team.

“Instead of attacking 1v1 or dribbling multiple players, the right run can help beat defenders in a flash and create good scoring opportunities,” says Chhangte.

How to develop this skill: Since he operates on the wings most of the time, Chhangte usually practices diagonal runs towards the middle, where he attacks the ball that has been passed by another player. This is best practiced in match situations.

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