Over the course of my 20 year career playing the beautiful game, I have experimented with different methods of trying to expedite my development on the pitch. In a world where less than 1% of footballers will make it as professionals, you have to think and act differently in order to reach an elite caliber of play.
I never used to watch much TV growing up, but when I did it was always sports outside of football. To be fair, football was rarely aired on TV in the 90s and early 2000s, but I still made little to no effort to watch the best in the world play.
I remember like it was yesterday, I was playing for the U18 Clearwater Chargers and we had just told been that we would be scrimmaging the U17 U.S. National Team. More importantly though, we were also told the game would be going video recorded. Up until that match, I had never seen myself play on camera before.
The amount of insight and knowledge I gained from studying the film from my subpar performance versus the National Team was monumental. I become obsessed with the minute details of football. What eventually transformed my game from ordinary to somewhat extraordinary was comparing the video highlights of my own performances to those of the professionals who played my position.
We are living in a world where game footage is easily accessible. You are privileged to be able to constantly and consistently see video highlights of yourself playing. Use the power of technology to your advantage and begin studying the game like a professional.
I challenge you to watch 2 professional games a week (180 minutes of football), but instead of watching the ball, watch the players who play your position. Learn how they move, lead and behave on the pitch. What you will eventually realize is that it is not as hard as you once thought to play like a professional. Understand what areas of your game need the most improvement and then implement the exercises you need in order to reach this elite level of play
Don't compare yourself to your teammates. Compare yourself to the professionals.
Watch. Learn. Train.