Tony Owens: How to make it to the professional ranks

Liverpool Academy coach Tony Owens tells you what it takes to make the most out of your talent and make it to the professional ranks

Technical ability

"Work on your technique. There are many different aspects of football which you can improve on, for example in a 1v1 situation, which is big in the Academy. If you can't beat a player in a 1v1, then you can't beating a player when passing or defending in a 1v1 situation. 1v1 domination is massive, so for a player to be practising that on their own time goes a long way. I know a lot of young boys who watch YouTube, and they watch how players move. That's helpful too."

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Analysis

"Obviously as kids get a bit older, analysis can have a big effect on them, because they get to see themselves back, see how they can improve themselves and what they can tinker with a bit. At the Academy, we get young players to look through the matches together and they'll talk to each other and see what went wrong and what they did right. Once they play the videos back in analysis, they know the answers themselves and what they need to do.

"How many passes did they make forward? How much possession did they keep? So they can look at that and improve. Analysis is easy, but when you play it's so much more difficult. So when you look back at it, you start to see the answers and what you can do to make things right."

The Liverpool Way

"The 'Liverpool Way' is key. First and foremost, the ambition. Have the children in the Academy a goal? What they've set – is it achievable? Of course it is. Everyone can set goals, nothing is impossible. Impossible is just a word.

"Turning up early for training and staying late also shows a lot. Whether it's practicing free kicks or just doing those extra bits counts. That's what makes a difference. You see kids all the time here at the Academy when they're finished, they stay behind to practice free kicks and corners or dribbling past mannequins ...  That shows me their commitment.

"Showing dignity in the Academy is opening doors for people, shaking hands and just being an overall sociable nice person. Talk to referees, talk to other players in the dressing room.

"Last but not least is unity. Are they an individual player or are they a team player? Can they help the team or are they just there for themselves? It’s really all about showing them the 'Liverpool Way', which is ambition, commitment, dignity and unity."

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