5 Things I Wish I Could Have Told My 7-Year-Old Self...
February 3rd, 2020. Written by Brandon Rua
Soccer in the United States has taken huge strides when it comes to focusing on the development of youth talent. Coaches around the world are striving to keep these young girls and boys focused and on the right track to succeed. But it doesn’t stop there. The United States Soccer Federation and the coaches can only do so much to have a pathway for these players to succeed but it ultimately comes down to the player.
From playing Bridgeport AYSO at the age of 7 to playing high school varsity soccer locally in Trumbull at St. Joseph, I wish I knew when I was a little kid running around the field what I know now on how to become a better soccer player. The experiences that I have went through from winning the State Cup as a 12-year-old to losing in the State Semi-Finals my junior year of high school made me understand what it truly means to put in the work and learn from these experiences. So I’ve decided that I want to give youth soccer players five tips that I wish I was able to tell my 7 year old self:
Be Confident. If there is one thing that I can understand now as a coach more than ever is that the players who have the belief in themselves are the ones who strive in youth soccer. Stop questioning yourself. Everyone is going to make mistakes but it is how you react to those mistakes that determine how good of a player you become. Understand that everyone in the game has their flaws and things they should work on but the day you start doubting your ability will be the day that you are taking a decline in your progress as a soccer player.
Focus on Technique. One of the biggest things I’ve seen in my short career as a coach is players forget all about technique. The little details of your game that will make all the difference in the way you perform in practices and games. The little things such as using the correct part of your foot to trap or pass a ball, to understanding how to use your body to perform a skill move. When you overlook technique in everything you do, you are hurting your development in a massive way. Focus on getting the little things right and executed with fluidity before trying to be a player that you aren’t.
Trust the Process. Soccer is going to be in your life for a long time. You will go through thousands of practices, hundreds of games and coaches that will you love and some that you will hate. Your development as a player can be sky rocketing one year and take a huge downfall the next but the key to all of it is trust in it. Every experience that you have as a player will build and build to ultimately what you end up becoming in the future. The player you are now might not be the player you are in 3-5 years so keep putting your nose down and work.
Learn from your experiences. The game of soccer is like a rollercoaster. In your soccer career, you will feel the highest of highs and the lowest of low’s, but take a second in each moment. Take a second and live in the moment. When you’re in your highest of high moments, treasure it and don’t let it slip away. When you’re in your lowest of low’s, truly grasp the feeling and remember it, so that you know how much you should work to never feel it again.
Live in the Moment. It is such a cliché type of thing to say but it is something I wish I did. I wish I didn’t run to the car once coach said were all set. I wish I said yes to my friends who wanted to go to the field and play. I wish I took a step back every practice of my senior year and appreciated what the sport has done for me and my life. This sport has given me experiences and relationships that will last a lifetime and people in my life who I consider family. So, before you say you don’t want to be at practice or at a game or working out even harder, remember all the good times the sport of soccer has given you and know that when your career is over, you’ll wish it just started.