There always seems to be a common theme when it comes to success.

A player suddenly bursts onto the scene and people wonder where the hell they came from. How did they suddenly get so damn good?

Or perhaps you wonder what separates the ‘good’ from the ‘great’? I mean what really makes the difference between a Messi and a Milner or a Wayne Rooney from a Dave Mooney? What’s separating you from the football pros?

Some may think the difference comes down to natural talent in soccer. In fact this is not really the case. It becomes a secret because pros don’t usually talk about it and the general public often don’t find it of interest to them, but I decided to write it down for you.

So what do ‘great’ players do that separate them from the ‘good‘?

The solution: It’s the concept of extra training (doing more than your teammates). 

Doing extra practice was (and still is) key to these top players success. There’s no secret to becoming the best. You need to have passion, belief in yourself, the ability to constantly persist, and most of all; you need to have the will and attitude to train and work hard everyday. That’s why to improve as effectively as possible, you need an individually tailored football training schedule.

Don’t believe me? Are you doubting it?

Here are three examples of world class football players (plus one extraordinary basketballer) going the extra mile:

1. Wayne Rooney

Instead of going on holiday before training camp for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Wayne Rooney took two of his Manchester United trainers with him to a week of training in Portugal.

At a press conference before England’s training camp took place, the England boss Hodgson said: “Wayne has decided to take a physio with him [on holiday] because he is so determined to come back firing on all cylinders.

“His attitude – spot on, desire – couldn’t be better”

Couldn’t agree more, Hodgson.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

In his younger days, Ronaldo played football every day in the streets of his hometown Madeira, before going back home in the evening to have dinner.

His passion for football led him to one of the worlds biggest clubs: Manchester United. He ‘made it’, but Ronaldo’s biggest desire was to become the worlds best player

Rene Mulensteen, the United coach at the time recognised he wanted to become the best, so he stayed behind with him after training to do work. In an interview, Mulensteen recalled: 

“That season we won the Champions League, at the beginning, Ronaldo was suspended for three games [after being sent off at Portsmouth], so I stayed behind to work with him. I knew what Ronaldo wanted. He wanted to be the best player in the world. I told him: ‘I can help you with that’.

“We worked on positions, which zone he was in..If you look back to the season, he was tremendous. He scored 42 goals. Look back to the 2008 Champions League final: he scored the header”

You can read the remainder of the really interesting Telegraph article here.

3. Owen Hargreaves

Most players would be demoralised if they were dropped from Manchester United and struggled with long periods of injury, but not former England star Owen Hargreaves.

He was determined to prolong his career and keep making an impact in football. He continued to train individually, with small groups and posted the videos online.

Manchester City noticed that and eventually signed him for the season.

4. Kobe Bryant

Whilst he’s not a footballer, everyone knows who the retired legend Kobe Bryant is. Not only is he a basketball legend, he’s renowned for his hunger and drive to put in work.

Before the 2012 Olympics, Kobe linked up with an athletic trainer to do some extra conditioning work. The trainer recounts his experience as follows

” I lay in bed, slowly fading away when I hear my cell ring. It was Kobe. I nervously picked up.

“Hey, uhh Rob, I hope I’m not disturbing anything right?”

“Uhh no, what’s up Kob?”

“Just wondering if you could just help me out with some conditioning work, that’s all.”

I checked my clock. 4:15 AM.

The story gets even better and you can read the rest of it here. If you REALLY like Kobe, then you can read 18 work ethic stories about Kobe from other players and coaches

And if you’re still convinced that extra training is not going to work for you, you can read about Danny Wellback and Mario Balotelli putting in the hours.

3 Ways you can do extra training 

1. Stay after practice

Most common. Take a few balls. Shoot a few free kicks.

2. Hire a personal coach or do small group training sessions

This is a well-structured way to get more individualised training, but can get very costly.

3. Do individual practice sessions.

You’ll get the most touches on the ball, and you’ll be able to fully focus working on yourself and developing both your strengths and weaknesses.

3 Ways to create an effective individual training session

1. Keep it between 15min – 1hr. Short snd sweet.

Longer than this, and you can lose focus and the quality of repetitions.

2. Plan Beforehand

Planning reduces the time you waste coming up with things to do.

3. High intensity and concentration.

This is not now a chance for you to drop your focus. Treat an extra training session the same way you would treat a game or training with your team and take it 100% seriously.

Do you know anyone who did a lot of extra training and became successful? Maybe you even have your own personal story. If you have any tips, share them in the comments below.

Nick Humphries, 25, is a footballer who played in England (Wimbledon), Scotland (Montrose), Holland (Volendam), Hungary (Vasas) as well as with the Australian U20 national team. At 16 years of age, he was just an average amateur player with limited skills. Only one year later he was offered $120k+ in scholarships. Two years later he received a contract to play professionally in Europe. How did he get better? He trained in his own way! Learn more about the training program he’s creating to help players improve on their own terms.