So, you think you want to play at a higher level?
By all means dream, and dream BIG. Just know that all dreams come at a cost. These days, words like sacrifice, commitment and hard work are passed around like a size 4 in an MLS match.
In the current youth sports environment vernacular that includes traditional words like effort and dedication have become cliché. In my estimation they’re a mere starting point. Underpinning the process as to which a young player today can shine the notion of effort should not be forgotten.
That said, and all other things being equal, do you have what it takes to earn the right to play for the club, high school or college team of your choice?
My intent with this article is to enlighten you.
You see, in a cosmos where it’s a constant battle with our young athletes to show up on time and prepared to train, I have a hard time being a believer. I consistently encounter players that desire to play at the ECNL or Academy level who constantly have to be told to lace their shoes and tie them tightly…
…for the sake of my own sanity I’m not going to rant about how many kids show up to train in extremely flimsy, not supportive running shoes.
It’s a different world. Instant access to information. No waiting around for anything. Our young athletes rarely hear the word no.
There’s a spot for everyone…until there’s not!
Here’s the deal!
I’m going to give you concrete, real life examples of what actually happens at the higher levels.
For this short dissertation I’m going to use a trip to see a Men’s’ College Soccer team play an in-season match as they make a run at an NCAA title.
The phrase “read between the lines” is appropriate here as the following is a snapshot into what I see as a coach, and a parent in terms of what it takes to chase greatness.
- Team stretching and tissue quality session at 11:30 for a 5pm match. Want to get playing time? You’d best be firing on all cylinders. This is just the start of the pre-game mentality and process.
- Acknowledging support and connecting with those who do so. Being in this procession, I can tell you every player to a man gave eye contact and a handshake, high five or hug to every fan and supporter. It was a remarkable site and an impressive culture of gratefulness. Are you a grateful player?
- Replacing divots in the field immediately after an Over-time win is a shocking spectacle but that’s exactly what happened here. Taking responsibility for the things you’re afforded as a player is important.
- Post game rolling out muscles, drinking and eating healthy snacks for replenishment. These players are taking care of their bodies.
Just a mere handful of the things that stood out to me like player with two left feet.
I’d be remiss not to mention what takes to have the opportunity be part of an elite soccer program like this.
Natural ability is awesome when you’re 10 years old. Luck has nothing to do with it.
You earn the right by proving yourself over time.
Playing at a higher level takes years of doing the little things that most, to be honest, don’t want to engage in. Many say they do. Some actually give it go for a short while. The attitude and approach these players displayed is the same attitude you can have today.
Attitude is a choice.
Your attitude is what will drive to do the things that will matter now, and when you get to a higher level.
Use this knowledge to springboard your stance on training, preparation and outlook on how to deserve playing at a more advanced level.
To climb the ladder of soccer excellence you need a concise menu of non-negotiables that get you hyped like you’re about to wordsmith new lyrics with Logic.
Consider these the back bone of your success. Your journey will give you ample opportunity to show your true colors with all of these ingredients.
- Strength Training during the season
- A dedicated Off-Season
- Off season Strength and Conditioning
- Prioritizing rest and recovery
- Eating for health and performance
- Striving for Academic Excellence
If you find yourself saying “that’s dumb” or getting a good laugh from any of it, maybe it’s time to re-think your goals.
If this give you a surge of inspiration that leaves you uncontrollably tapping your foot in anticipation or your next training session or practice…congratulations you might just have what it takes.
NOTE: This article was transparently written for players, in the present tense directly to them. I fully understand it may be reaching them through parents, coaches and DOC’s. If you’re an influencer or care giver for a young player please pass this along to them.
The soccer world is full of mediocre players with entitled attitudes and subpar character. It’s time to flip the switch.
To schedule a tryout session to get our client roster at Athletes Acceleration or be coached by me remotely on-line training click here and I’ll be in touch!