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Growing As A Player

May 2, 2014

Becoming a successful collegiate athlete requires a significant commitment over many years. In his excellent book “Outliers“, Malcolm Gladwell estimates that it takes 10,000 hours to master a particular sport at the very highest level.  However, it’s not just the amount of hours put in, but also doing the “right things” if an athlete is to excel.

Below are a few areas we believe are important and often overlooked in player development — and we’ve included resources we think you will find helpful.

1- Nutrition and Hydration: Your body is your most important tool. A balanced, healthy diet routine and a consistent hydration plan will go a long way to keep you on the field longer. Below is an excellent nutrition article that provides helpful infortmation.  http://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2014/03/17/12/34/10-nutrition-rules

2- Master Technique: In order to perform at a high level, you must be excellent technically, passing, receiving, turning, heading and shooting. A helpful and rarely utilized method is to have someone video you training and then thoroughly evaluate your technique. It’s easy to do – just use your smartphone or tablet!  Coach’s Eye makes an inexpensive and simple app that will allow you to watch yourself in slow motion. We highly recommend it and have included the link for Coach’s Eye here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/coachs-eye/id472006138?mt=8

3- Mental Strength: The best players are very strong mentally, so work on improving your mental game — it will help immeasurably — especially on match day.  However, like any skill, it must be practiced! The following resource provides excellent techniques to strengthen yourself mentally: http://www.mascsa.psu.edu/dave/Mental-Toughness.pdf

4- Study the Game: Watch professional games, observe your favourite players, try and figure our what system they are playing?  Read books or articles about coaches, managers, players and clubs. A great place to start is with Sir Alex Ferguson’s recent autobiography. It provides a great example of what a world class coach looks for in his players.

5- Rest and Recovery: Give your body time to rest and recover after training sessions and games. When you are tired, give yourself ample time to recover. Research shows that proper recovery is as important as training. Rest, stretching, nutrition replacement and hydration all contribute to effective recovery. Elite Soccer Conditioning wrote an excellent article that illustrates the importance of a consistent recovery routine.

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