In Life, you should always try to have a growth mindset. A growth mindset will allow you to be open-minded to numerous ideas. As a soccer player, I feel that those who have become great in the game have become students of the game. Because they’ve immersed themselves in every facet of the game, they have put themselves in a fantastic position. Soccer requires immense mental strength that can only happen if you are training yourself day in and day out. Here are the three tips for becoming a better student of the game.
1. Watch Soccer for more than just entertainment.
I love watching soccer, MLS, La Liga, EPL, Champions league, you name it, and I watch it. A lot of times when we are watching, we are only watching to be entertained. We like a fancy move, and we love goals, and this isn’t a bad thing, but you need to watch for more than that. You need to watch the build-up to the goal. You have to watch when we see an outside back make an overlapping run; we have to watch for a good first touch that gets a player out of trouble, we have to virtually watch for the things that don’t end up on the stat sheet, but are critical in Soccer. Depending on what position you play, focus mainly on that when you watch your next soccer game. Say you’re an outside back, pay attention to how well they pass, how well they defended one v 1, or how often they got involved in the attack. So next time you watch a game, try and pay attention to these things, that way when you’re on the field, you have more context to situations during the match.
2. Be honest with where you’re at as a player
Be honest with yourself is vital if you want to improve. Those who live in a fantasy world will struggle because they’re not being honest with themselves and not working to improve. Quincy and I are always about confidence, but not confidence without growth. You can only grow from overcoming difficult circumstances, working hard, and not taking no for an answer. So ask yourself, “ Am I a player that coaches and scouts would want on their team?” “ Am I scoring as many goals as I should as a forward?” “ Am I making excuses as to why I’m not improving?” Only you know the truth, but I hope the honesty does scare you but motivate you in becoming the player you want to be!
3. Listen and ask questions.
Listen, Listen, Listen! You don’t have all the answers, and there is an abundance of information that can be obtained if you listen and ask questions. I had two teammates that Quincy would attest to this, who were great teammates to watch lead by example, and also pick their brains. Brian Mullan and Pablo Mastreoni were veterans in league with tons of experience. Every day they showed me what I had to do if I wanted to have a fighting chance, so I put my 21-year-old ego aside, and listened and asked questions. They gave terrific insight that has helped me in life just as much as it did in Soccer. So go out there and find the person you know personally that you feel knows a lot about soccer and can help you transcend. Once you do, never hesitate to ask questions and to be yourself.