One of the hardest things to live by are regrets, the what ifs and wondering how it could have been. When you are younger you never really stop and think how good you have it out on the soccer field, and you take it for granted. You never really think one day this will be over (this is true with any sport). And in the blink of an eye, it happens, your competitive playing days are over, and all that’s left are the memories.
Flashbacks. Regrets. What Ifs…
In soccer, and in life, we go through challenging times. We get cut from teams, we miss wide open nets, we go through goal scoring droughts, and we have embarrassing moments. We go through defeats, injuries, we go through triumphs and victories. It’s a physical and mental roller-coaster.
The Big Drop
My competitive playing career ended abruptly half-way through my senior year in college. I took a challenge on the side-line where I got shoved out-of-bounds and landed on my shoulder, separating my clavicle from my shoulder. I ended up having season/career ending third degree ac joint separation surgery. I remember the pain, but more importantly, I remember the tears of the thought that my competitive playing days were over. I have flashbacks of the moment all the time. I have to live the with regrets and what ifs, the feeling that I never got to say good-bye to the game I have grown to love and play my entire life. And I want to make sure that the players you coach don’t have to go through the same emotional distress.
Growing up I was blessed with parents that were dedicated to bettering their children’s lives and supported whatever they were passionate about. I was fortunate enough to play under great coaches and great clubs, and to really learn the game to the best of my ability. I was blessed with technical ability and height, but held back by speed and physical strength. Yet, I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities to better my weaknesses.
It took me graduating from college and maturing for me to realize what kind of player I could have become had I put in the extra work in the offseason. When I graduated college I began going to the weight room. Visually I was seeing changes and mentally/physically I was a different player. I was stronger on the ball, more confident and I was playing the best soccer I have ever played. But it was a little too late, and this was one of my biggest regrets. Looking back and realizing, the player I could have become had I been willing to work harder.
Coaches, this is where you NEED to step in. I never in my soccer career was educated on the importance of strength training. Instead, I relied on my technically ability and soccer IQ, which will only take you so far in the modern game. You need to educate your players on importance of getting into the weight room and pushing yourself to further your game. Had I known and been educated, my game would have been elevated and I wouldn’t be sitting here with the what ifs and the regrets.
Make sure your players realize that one day this will all be over. Make sure they give everything they have, leave every last drop of energy on the field. Don’t take advantage of the situation, push yourselves, not just for your own gratitude, but for your teammates. Take advantage of every opportunity to better yourself, to educate yourself, to push yourself, to get yourself to the highest level possible. Most importantly play with no regrets.