My soccer career has been a real journey. I’ve learned so much in the past 11 years about what it takes to play at the professional level, but I’ve also made an incredible number of mistakes. Here is a little bit of what I wish I had known!
Being Lucky vs. Being Proactive
I was lucky enough in high school to have the opportunity to be seen by college scouts. After realizing the incredible amount of luck I had to be able to continue playing soccer in college, I wanted to make sure I never had to rely on ‘being lucky’ again.
Once becoming a professional player became an option for me, I wanted to learn everything about what professional play entailed, the full picture. Being proactive has maximized my ability to play at the professional level for a long time; 11 years and counting.
My good friend Ross was the complete opposite. Ross was proactive from the beginning, contacting soccer programs he was interested in and doing all the extras that I certainly hadn’t been doing.
Of course, Ross went on to play in college and then professionally!
Ross and I both have different stories when it comes to our professional careers. However, the lessons we have learned certainly can help you as you play in college and work toward going pro.
Between the two of us, we learned a few crucial things:
- You can be lucky once, and you can be grateful, but you must make sure you don’t need to rely on luck again.
- Be proactive and be ready when your opportunity comes.
- Don’t get complacent because you think you’ve made it. Do NOT stop doing the extras!
Don’t Touch the Stove… Yet
Time is the most valuable asset we have. Mistakes have the tendency of using up our precious time, wasting it, and preventing us from moving forward quickly. If we learn from the experiences of people that we trust, rather than making the same mistakes ourselves, we save time!
Especially at the beginning of our careers, it’s better to spend our time on things that no one has experience with. We can choose to learn from others who have the experience of being ‘burned’ by the hot stove and move on to other things that no one else has ‘burned’ themselves on.
Now, I’m not telling you to never ‘touch the stove’ and learn for yourself. In fact, you should do this to get the reference for yourself. But, be strategic and wait until the point where the ‘burn’ won’t be as severe or prevent you from moving forward toward your goals. Then you can share with others from personal experience that they should not ‘touch the stove’.
You need to make mistakes and make them often, but leverage your time!
The Reality of Frustration, Anger, and Time Management
Frustration and anger happen when you or others don’t understand what is happening in the moment. Most people think ‘something’ makes them angry, but in reality, YOU make yourself angry. When something that happens doesn’t align with what you believe you want to fight against it.
Rather than losing control over your emotions, assess what you can do in the current moment to overcome the lack of understanding. Remember, you cannot accomplish anything meaningful without establishing emotional control. Irrational decisions will keep you where you are or push you lower.
Usually, the problems you are facing on the field are reflective of the challenges you are facing off the field. Poor time management and preparation can manifest as frustration and anger. When you see something that you are unhappy with, it is often a reflection of the way you have used your time before now. Don’t get stuck in the cycle. Learn to invest your time wisely!
It's taken me a long time to learn these lessons, and I'm still learning! I hope you can leverage my past experiences to avoid making the mistakes I have, at least until you are ready!