Welcome! Episode 34 of the Ask A Soccer Pro Show was an exceptional one. If you missed the live (or even if you were there) make sure to catch the replay. A few of the things talked about were:
- How to handle the haters.
- Building relationships with teammates.
- The experiences and advice of a young pro, my D.C. United teammate, Chris Durkin!
- Recovery, how to maintain physical form, and more.
How to Handle the Haters
I’m often asked, “Quincy, how do you handle the haters?!” It can be tough to turn off the negative noise people send our way, both in real life and on social media.
First of all, I’d like to tell you that I embrace my haters. I’m grateful for them. They are spending their valuable time and energy on me; time and energy they will never get back. Remember how we mentioned that time is our most valuable asset? Yeah, my haters are investing theirs, in me. That’s a pretty big compliment.
I think of it this way, if someone is dedicating their time to hating on me, I’m in their head, I’m occupying space; I’m living rent-free. My hater is dedicating their valuable time and energy – to me! Seriously, if you hate what I’m doing and you are still showing up, thank you for giving me your time and attention. I hope you are getting something valuable out of this.
Personally, when I hate something, or don’t like someone, I want to invest as little of my precious time as possible.
Now, if we’re the hater… there is something we can do about it! We can move past our ‘hate’ by starting with Self-Awareness. When we hate something, we have to look at the reason why. Do we see something of ourselves reflected in that person or thing that we don’t like? Are we insecure about where we are in life? By taking this step, we can move through the situation and forward!
Building Relationships with Teammates
Learning to communicate with your teammates and building relationships with them off the field is critical to on-field performance. The reality is, most people are inherently self-centered. In soccer, selfish behavior and tendencies are frequently rewarded, especially at the higher levels of the game. And there just aren’t many examples of being rewarded for being a team player.
But soccer is a TEAM sport. For this reason, building strong relationships and communication becomes even more critical.
I often hear from players that their teammates are not listening to them on the field. Here’s the secret, for your teammates to listen to you on the field, they need to believe that you have their best interests in mind. If they don’t think you have their best interests in mind, it doesn’t matter if you give them the best information, resources, and tools in the world, they aren’t going to actually hear what you are saying and put it into action.
So, how do we show our teammates that we have their best interests in mind? Talk to them, get to know them, and what their goals are in and out of the game! Ask them what they want to achieve, what are their dreams, goals, aspirations?
By showing genuine interest in your teammates, sharing your goals, connecting over shared interests, and sharing resources that have helped you improve (like Perfect Soccer!), you are showing your teammates that you have their best interests in mind. Then, when you are in a difficult spot on the field, your teammates will want to communicate with you and help you!
Remember, little things compound over time. Depending on our actions, they can either turn into big problems or amazing results!
Chris Durkin: What it’s REALLY Like Being a Young Pro
My friend and D.C. United teammate, Chris Durkin, joined us and shared his experience as a pro. Chris signed his first professional contract in 2016, at the age of 16! For those of you thinking of going pro, Chris definitely has valuable advice to share.
Currently on loan to Sint-Truiden, Chris recounted that the mental process of becoming a pro is an “eye-opening experience.” He said, “when you sign a pro contract young, you become a man really quick.” Chris feels that you can go over any technical drill, or spend hours in the gym, but developing the right mentality is the most important.
I asked Chris a little about the process of being forced to grow up quickly, and how he has been pushed to change his mentality. Chris still struggles with the haters, he said, “when you’re a kid, you want to listen to what everyone is saying… it’s hard to block that out.” He suggested focusing on your craft and the game, rather than what people are saying about you; allowing your passion for the sport to help you grow and develop.
Chris said that speaking with veteran players and learning from them and their experiences has been key to adapting quickly as a young pro. By learning from his D.C. United teammates, Chris has been able to save valuable time and learn critical lessons about the game and life without making the mistakes for himself. Building a robust support system has been key to Chris’s success. He relies not only on his teammates, but his family too.
Both Chris and I agree, 95% of the work that goes into being a pro is difficult, and people never see it. They think it’s just showing up on gameday and scoring a bicycle and making money. Getting through that arduous 95% requires an incredible amount of mental strength and focus.
Keeping a positive mindset is part of Chris’s strategy to overcome the difficult times. He shared with me that when he’s going through a tough moment, one thing he likes to do is turn to his support system and ask for advice; chances are they’ve already dealt with a similar situation. Chris feels that keeping your goal in mind and seeing progress is essential. He said, “I like to put my head down and to work and focus on things I’m lacking.”
“What I’m continuing to learn myself is, you know, as much as it’s an important time at this current moment, all these little things are going to add up 2, 3, 4 years down the line. So whatever moment you are in right now isn’t going to define where you’re at 5 years or even a month later. Things can happen quickly; things can change so fast. You always have to have a positive outlook, always thinking, my situation right now isn’t the situation I’m going to be in the rest of my life, if it’s a negative or even a positive, you always have to remain on your toes.” Chris Durkin
Chris knows that being a pro may seem glamorous, but it’s not easy. Even before he signed his contract, Chris was putting in the extra work outside of his team practices and games to build his skills and confidence. Chris is an excellent example for young players looking to go pro, you can learn a lot from his grit and the sacrifices he’s made.
(Make sure you watch the replay above to hear Chris’s story about a time he was unprepared! Also, make sure you follow Chris on IG @chris__durkin !)
Wow, that was a lot. I didn’t even scratch the surface of the episode. Make. Sure. You. Watch. The. Replay.
Remember, soccer is a mental game. Whether you are dealing with haters, overcoming negative situations, or struggling to build good relationships with your teammates, your mentality is the most important thing. So, come join us in the MSL and make sure you’re playing the game, not getting played!