I’ve been around the game for as long as I could remember and it has been an exciting ride. Whether I was watching or playing, I loved the game of Soccer to my core. Recently, I’ve started to coach a team of my own, and what I’m beginning to notice is that kids just aren’t hustling and playing hard and for me, that is a huge problem! If you haven’t read last weeks post titled, “3 Tips To Your Soccer Success & How To Achieve Your Soccer Goals”, this post walks you through how to develop your focus so you can achieve your soccer goals.
My biggest problem with why players aren’t hustling and playing towards their potential is because they haven’t changed their mindset, and they can’t ever be fully committed to improving their game if they don’t first learn how to develop their focus.
After talking to coaches and some of my other pro soccer friends, we discussed what we thought was a substantial contributing factor in players getting seen and getting opportunities to break into a team at any level. And the consensus was, if you’re serious about your soccer success and you want to stand a fighting chance, you have to hustle, no questions asked.
So, here are the four reasons why soccer players need to play hard and hustle!
1. It will help you get in shape.
Fitness is imperative, especially in a game that is played over the course of 90 minutes. You might not have realized this, but the average soccer player runs on average, 6 miles per game! If you can’t run and aren’t fit, no coach will be interested in you. If you watch the Pros, you will see that they are very fit and at times can seem like they never stop running. That’s because they know that those who aren’t fit will get exposed. So if you don’t want to show poorly and you want to get into shape, you have to play hard in practice, like its a game! I want you all to watch Quincy’s highlights so you can see what hustle looks like. Hustle is one of the biggest reasons (as well as his mindset) as to why he’s in his 10th year professionally. Quincy never stops putting pressure on defenders and is giving it his all at all times.
2. Coaches notice when a player is hustling and giving it their all, and even more, the ones who don’t.
Many of you email and leave YouTube comments saying you want coaches to notice you. So here is something all coaches are looking for, a player that hustles. Hustling is the workhorse part of the game that doesn’t typically get much praise, but is an asset that every team and coach is always in need of and looking for. People think Barcelona and the top teams have it easy, but if you look close, they’re working extremely hard on the pitch. Whether that is trying to get the ball back when it turns over, or always moving to be an option for a teammate, that expends energy.
If you decide to become the type of player that digs deep, and works hard when it might not even be expected of you. When you’re tired but you still track back, you refuse to get lazy when one v 1 defending, or make the full field run back in the 89th minute to help recover for your teammate. These are the things coaches are looking for. If you pair this mentality with technical and tactical ability, the sky's the limit!
3. Hustling can help you with your confidence.
Confidence can be a roller coaster. Sometimes you’re flying high and everything's going your way, other times you’re doubting your abilities and second-guessing yourself. Trust me when I say that I have had bad games and my confidence was low. Those games are easy to remember because you feel like nothing you did work. You missed on numerous passes, your defending was average, and your crossing was poor. But the one thing you can always control, no matter how good or bad things are going, is your hustle. When all else fails, hustle and work hard! Make things difficult for the other team and never give up. Hustling will help get you out of the lull and have you feeling better about your contribution to the game. Confidence can be a tricky thing, but hustle will get you back into a rhythm and keep your confidence high.
4. Your teammates and coach will respect you more
Respect is big in soccer, and sports in general. You always see opponents showing respect after the match because both teams know how difficult it is to get out there to play and perform. Gaining people’s respect is valuable, and one way to earn it is through your hustle. Hustling shows your teammates and coaches that you’re giving it your all, and that you care. As a coach or teammate that's all, you can ever ask from a player. Sometimes it’s not going to be your day, and things are going south, but that’s not going to stop you from giving your all and trying to get something out of the game. Every time you step on the field you can dissect and learn something, so always be open to this mindset.
Ok, there it is, hustling and its importance to your soccer career. Do not take the little things for granted as they are the foundation for all the big things you want to achieve. The reality of the situation is you’re not always going to be on, but the one thing still in your control is your hustle, so remember that.