Just like Cristiano Ronaldo faking the world’s greatest flop, let’s dive right in.
Today’s post is all about soccer.
I’ve said it once before and I’ll say it again: the beautiful game isn’t all about winning. And while this has been taught as the point of organized sports, there’s so much more we can ooze out of the game than winning.
Without further ado, here are 10 other reasons why soccer is awesome:
1.) You make lasting friendships.
One of the most valuable things players can take away from the game are amazing connections.
Whether you’re a coach, parent, or player, you’re meeting people who share a common ground: passion for the game.
Some of my best friends and relationships began on the field, even against my competitors. There’s something magical about being around people who help you become better both physically and mentally.
And to this day, I’ve stayed in touch with a lot of people I met through the game – coaches, trainers, mentors, and teammates.
2.) You learn how to overcome adversity.
There were days when we ran 18 minute fitness tests in 100 degree weather. There will days when we did 20 hill sprints. There were days when we were down 2-0 and came back 3-2. And there were days when played in monsoons that seemed like the end of the world.
Adversity, you may call it.
However, as shitty as these times can be, these are the moments that build character and show how hardcore you are as a human being.
With a little grit and focus, you can do anything. And soccer absolutely teaches this valuable life lesson.
3.) You learn how to work hard.
The game teaches players what they’re made of. Developing as a player takes an insatiable desire to get better physically, technically, tactically, and mentally.
And the only way to excel in these areas is good old-fashioned hard work.
4.) You become creative.
Soccer is a game of decision making in an unpredictable environment. Because of this, players are forced to use every corner of their brains to know when to make a pass, take on a defender, strike a shot on goal, or whirl around a defender with a Maradona move.
Enter: creative expression.
Less left brain, more right brain.
And I’d argue that human beings don’t get enough of this. Perhaps you’re a kid who doesn’t get enough physical activity in school gym class. Or who doesn’t have recess to play. Or who isn’t involved in the arts.
Or perhaps you’re an adult who works a desk job and is stagnated in the routine of real life.
To that end, soccer, whether it’s competitive, recreational, or adult co-ed, is an escape from our robotic world.
5.) You have fun.
Soccer is a ball. No pun intended.
And the best part? You can bring your ball anywhere, tune into the present moment, and have fun. Fuck the rest.
6.) You learn how to deal with different personalities.
Put 20-30 players on a squad together and you have a myriad of personalities. It’s certainly not easy coming together and executing cohesiveness on the pitch.
Some of your teammates will piss you off and fail you. And other times, they will inspire you, challenge you to do better, and lift you up.
Learning to work with a variety of people translates into real life when you start to grow into your profession and have to work with your colleagues.
Personally, I’ve learned to forgive people more and to accept them for their mistakes. But I’ve also learned when to light a fire under someone’s butt.
Thank you, soccer.
7.) You gain independence.
That first moment when I got my driver’s license and could drive to practice myself was similar to King Kong being unleashed out into the world.
I felt free. Autonomous. And like an absolute savage. ;-O
And there are a lot of other components about soccer that teach us to foster independence: practicing on our own, breaking our old juggling record, asking our coach for feedback (not our parents), reaching out to college coaches, writing down our goals.
There are endless ways to hone our autonomy through the game. And if you’re a parent reading this, please keep this pointer in mind when it comes to your OCD involvement with your child’s soccer life. The last thing you want is to raise a kid who is dependent on you and lives in your basement.
8.) You travel.
Whether you’re involved in youth travel, college, or professional soccer, you’re seeing a plethora of places in your country and abroad. From Disney to Las Vegas to North Carolina to Barcelona to Milan to Rio de Janeiro, there are some amazing opportunities to see the world and experience the game through new cultures and perspectives.
I remember when I was 12 years old on my first elite team, and traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina was a BIG deal. I was introduced to a higher level of soccer at the Raleigh Showcase, which was the impetus for me taking my game to the next level. But. I also realized there was SO MUCH OUT THERE. And as a kid, this is magical.
Then in college, I played in Brazil for the first time, and the experiences I gained were invaluable. Moreover, I was able to give back and connect with some awesome people.
To this day, I still chat with my Brazilian friends and I find solace in it being “home” if I decide to visit again.
So yeah. Traveling is awesome. It opens our minds, connects us, and gets us out of our comfort zones. And I have soccer to thank for these opportunities.
9.) You get stronger physically.
I’m a strength coach, so I’m not biased on this one or anything. ;-O
Done correctly, training for the physical side of the game takes us to new heights from a physiological standpoint. A great book to check out is Strength Training for Soccer. <— I don’t want to go into a scientific dissertation right now.
To keep it simple, here’s what you need to know about strength for soccer: we are less likely to get injured, we become more confident in our bodies, we can run faster, we can jump higher, we can accelerate and change direction quickly, we improve our posture, and we can drop kick someone during a bank robbery.
Better yet, the mental piece gained from strength training is tremendous. I’ve seen girls get their first pull up. I’ve seen girls deadlift 1.5-2x there body weight. I’ve see girls Turkish Get Up 24kg.
^She’s impressive, no doubt.
What’s funny is, my high school female athletes often tell me they don’t know what they would do without the gym. And they even say once their soccer careers end, they’re inspired to stay in shape and strong for life.
And want to hear a major mind fuck? Life is the longest sport you’ll ever play.
10.) You learn how to support people through community.
The power of community is the strongest component of the game.
This could mean your entire travel club, your college programs, or fellow coaches from across the world. It’s ALL community oriented.
Some of my most memorable and rewarding moments were when the men’s team would come out to support our games.
I felt like I was truly a part of something special, and better yet, they brought a light-hearted spirit to our tougher games. Oftentimes, I would laugh as they yelled, “ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” or “break ankles!” as one of our girls beat a defender with a nutmeg.
Community = soccer. And it’s what brings people together to support each other.
Before I wrap this article up, none of this is to say we shouldn’t strive to win. After all, soccer is a competitive sport and we shouldn’t get complacent.
But I wanted to bring light to other valuable pieces we can take away from the game. And these are things that last a life time.