As we begin a new year, I know many of the Excel Soccer Skills athletes have been talking about their resolutions. I’d like to propose some resolutions for you to consider:
Resolution 1: Take Safety Seriously
Soccer should and must be fun! On the field and off, athletes should enjoy the benefits of this incredible sport. Please remember that injuries and trauma can happen on and off the field.
My best advice on safety is to always use the buddy system, whether it is during a soccer tournament or soccer practice. When you are going to the restrooms or getting a snack, pair up with a partner. There is always strengths in numbers. This is just as important when meeting with coaches or teachers. Ask the coach to bring the assistant coach or the team captain. This helps to ensure a balanced conversation and protect you from unusual circumstances.
Resolution 2: Move forward - positively
It is good and important to debrief about games or practices. Games can become quite emotional. As an athlete you put everything you have into a game – physically and mentally. However, we cannot change the past and we must move forward. Communication is key to the success of a team. But the communication must be positive and empowering. That doesn’t mean that you can’t provide constructive feedback. It is important to problem solve and find a solution to how you, as a team, can be better together. Fighting – verbal or physical – does not help the team move forward. In fact, it creates unnecessary negative feelings and does not help the team be successful on the field.
The same is true on the field. When you are aggressively attacked by an opponent, your response to the opponent’s behavior is critical. It is important to signal that this behavior won’t be tolerated. But don’t respond in a similar fashion to your opponent. I remind athletes all the time that it is important to be aggressive to win the ball. That does not mean be aggressive to the player by kicking or shoving inappropriately. That is the best way to lose the ball by fouling the other player. Focus on winning the ball and being smarter, faster, and more skilled than your opponent.
Resolution 3: Be Dedicated to Repetition
It is easy to get bored repeating drills frequently. All teams practice the fundamentals such as attacking or defending drills to build fundamental offensive and defensive skills. Just look at professional level soccer teams and their practice routines that focus on these fundamentals. I read recently that it takes an athlete 10,000 times of doing the exact same drill to master a skill. Don’t give up. I know that it is hard to continue to repeat drills. But the difference between a winning team and a losing team will be each team’s ability to execute the fundamental skills. Remain committed to repetition.
Resolution 4: Academics are Top Priority
Academics are most important for your long-term success. So put your academic life as the top priority. I know many high school athletes are thinking about playing college-level sports. My best advice is to choose the college that is most aligned with your academic priorities – and not the other way around. Ask yourself the question – if I didn’t play soccer, would I still want to go to this college or university? Soccer teaches you communication, leadership, team-work and many other skills that can be applied to your academic life and your future career. Use soccer as a tool to go to the college you want to go to. But, just like soccer, to be successful in any career, you must prioritize the fundamental academic skills that will enable your success.
Have a Happy New Years and a Great 2020!
NYE Resolutions are supposed to help us grow as individuals. I want all our Excel Soccer Skills athletes to continue to grow and prosper. You’ve worked hard in 2019. Stretch yourself and continue your growth. This is what will make you the best you can be in life. Thank you for your continued to commitment to the best sport in the world – SOCCER! Is there anything better than this in the world?