Female Athletes, Adopt Responsibility and Discipline

Female Athletes, Adopt Responsibility and Discipline

Grow up and take responsibility for your life.

I remember saying, “I don’t want to grow up” as a kid. Having responsibilities was terrifying to me, and I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that one day I eventually had to grow up. What do you mean I have to pay bills, do my taxes, clean my house, and get my oil changed? The drudgery that was to come in my older years made me uncomfortable. I enjoyed being a kid, when all I had to do was run around at soccer practice, play with Barbies, and chase the neighborhood ice cream truck.

Fast forward to high school, and I started to worry about the responsibilities of a college soccer student-athlete. “I don’t want to study for exams.”

Then fast forward to college, and I had the same sentiments. “I don’t want to adult in the real world.” Getting a real person job was next up in my life. The inevitable was growing up and taking on more responsibility.

Responsibility as Meaning

People dread responsibility, yet the moment they’re left to their own vices and do what they want, is the moment they become bored, anxious, and depressed.

The antidote to high performance is lack of responsibility. To be a high performer means to shoulder responsibility.

To be a high performer means to shoulder responsibility. Click To Tweet

It means to willingly accept sacrifice. It means to deny yourself and put others first. Our female athletes need to be encouraged to take on responsibility because that is their duty as long as they’re on a sports team. It will also be their duty, one day, as either wives, mothers, employees, managers, or even, CEOs. The highest performers are selfless, and they lean into responsibility with gratitude. It’s their calling.

Tragically, young female athletes are blasted by the cult of Self. Even female athlete role models are spreading the message to “do what you want” and “live your truth.” I couldn’t help but cringe when I listened to a major women’s sports platform, and the podcast guest, a former professional women’s soccer player, was broadcasting how happy she was with no responsibilities.

The interview was about her retirement from soccer, and the podcast host kicked it off with the question, “so do you miss playing at all?” Before the host could finish this sentence, the guest interrupted with a loud, “NOPE.” She continued, “I don’t miss it for one f*cking second.”

My stomach dropped for the thousands of young soccer girls who tuned into this episode. Her comments got worse, “I get to do what I want now like salsa dancing and going to the bar.” I cringed so hard. This was painful to listen to and I couldn’t help but think about all of the young girls who turn to her as a “role model.”

Even in the coaching world, I’ve heard female athletes and coaches shout “female empowerment!” yet complain about responsibility. What an uninspiring message for our girls. I’ve seen female athletes and coaches publicly complain about  how they are burdened with too much pressure. Wait, I thought pressure is needed for self-improvement? I thought pressure was needed to humble yourself and get to work? I thought pressure was needed to continue to master your craft and serve your athletes?

High performers love feeling the pressure because they see it as motivation. It lights a competitive fire within them, and I’m tired of young girls being told that women need less pressure, and less responsibility. Under the same breath, they want empowerment. Make it make sense!

High performers love feeling the pressure because they see it as motivation Click To Tweet

Looking back, responsibility gave me meaning. Pressure propelled me to new heights, and the hardest moments provided me with the most enriching and rewarding times of my life.

Responsibility to go to team workouts at 6am, responsibility to eat healthy and fuel my performance, responsibility to show up for my teammates, responsibility now to serve the young girls I coach, even when I’m not 100% myself. Even if I work long hours and make sacrifices, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s a blessing to be a female role model, be thrown into the wolves, and face immense pressure on a daily basis. I’m grateful.

Discipline as Meaning

There’s a reason why people who win the lottery and get rich quick are notoriously known for depression later. There’s a reason why ancient wisdom from thousands of years ago warned, “an inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end,” as the old Proverb goes.

There’s a reason why your parents warned you to be disciplined and forgo your instant pleasures and temptations. A large percentage of people who win the lottery not only suffer from depression, but they also suffer from bankruptcy, too. Over 70% end up broke after a few years. What is up with this? How can one possibly lose such a large sum of money so fast? Acquiring millions of dollars may seem liberating at first. Spend on what you want. Take vacations. Buy that Ferrari. Go to Tiffany’s and get that diamond necklace. Live your best life. It won’t run out. Right?

Lottery winners may seem free, but they’re not. They’re slaves to money. They become overwhelmed with temptation. They don’t know how to manage themselves. They lack discipline. They’re imprisoned by their lack of responsibility. They’re not free. They can’t control their impulses and they eventually reach their demise.

But who wants to be disciplined anyway? It sounds like a lot of work. Resisting temptation and pleasure doesn’t sound fun, either. Discipline can have a negative connotation. It means more rules, more boundaries, more no-no’s…how can this possibly be liberating? Why can’t you just do what I want, when you want, and how you want? Look at any female athlete sport, from basketball, to soccer, to lacrosse, to tennis, and so many more, there are rules for a reason. Each team must operate within the regulations, otherwise there would be not birthplace for strategy, tactics, and creativity to navigate those rules. Sports are discipline. And so is high performance.

I want you to change your perspective on discipline. It can set you free. It can lead to fulfillment. People can’t get away with winging it, nor can they get away with following their heart, their desires and their emotions. People can only pursue their pleasures for so long until it leads to destruction. People can only pursue what is expedient and convenient until it comes crashing down. Emotions are deceiving and just because something feels good, doesn’t mean it’s right.

I’ll give an example: it may feel good to put off your workouts to get online and watch silly videos, wasting away mindlessly. Not to mention, this is easier, too. But in the long run, it slowly eats away at you – you become lazy, you wither away, you lack structure and purpose, and you are distracted from your goals. Nothing gets done. You stop aiming for the target.

Discipline provides a firm ground to stand on, and it helps you to aim at something that is good and noble.

Discipline provides a firm ground to stand on, and it helps you to aim at something that is good and noble Click To Tweet

It’s your rock, and it’s your peace. Humans thrive off routine and need to be disciplined. In my experience as a performance coach, program compliance is hard for a lot of young athletes. Some will stick with a program for some time, but eventually, they say, “to hell with this!” because they don’t see an immediate result. So, they believe they can find happiness in the expedient, when it only makes everything worse, and a deeper regression takes place.

Discipline Isn’t Boasting

The most disciplined and responsible humans don’t need to boast about it. They don’t need others to cheer them on and say how hard working, how competent, and how amazing they are. True discipline is what you do behind closed doors. You celebrate on your own in silence, no need of approval from others.

Who are you when no one is watching? Are you your most nourished, healthy, strongest, kind, humble, loving, giving, compassionate self? Are you making that nutrient packed breakfast? Are you picking up the trash you left at the park? Are you consuming the right social media content as you lie in bed in your pajamas? Are you taking extra time to clean your room and put things in order and be considerate of your parents? Are you learning more about your craft from books and podcasts? Are you acting like someone is watching your every move, and every decision you make is based on integrity and truthfulness?

After answering these questions, start small. Instead of paying attention to what everyone else is doing, discipline yourself first. Can you pack a healthy meal to take to school? Can you clean up the pile of laundry in your room? Can you go play one-on-ones against a teammate and elevate each other? This is all compounded interest. Imagine if you did these habits for one year, two years, and even three? Imagine how amazing life could be.

What you do when no one is watching is what matters, and it’s who you truly are.

What you do when no one is watching is what matters, and it’s who you truly are. Click To Tweet

You’re not chasing the Like, you’re not trying to reel in more followers, and you’re not seeking clout. You’re just alone with your integrity. The best performance program is not just doing the best movements. The best program is not just having the most advanced technology. The best program is not just doing the exact sets and reps that are outlined. While a well-rounded performance program with proper progression is crucial for youth female athletes, it is just one sliver of the pie. The best results do not come from the plan alone, but the daily decisions female athletes make in their training, nutrition, sleep, load management, recovery, stress management, and lifestyle. High performers raise their standards when no one is watching.

The best program is not the sets and reps of the exercises, but also, the sets and reps done when the coach is not in a female athlete’s presence. How many reps per day is she active? How many reps per day is she walking? How many reps per day is she putting nourishment in her body? How many reps per day is she standing upright and not slouched? How many reps per day is she off her phone? How many reps per day is she having productive thoughts? How many reps per day is she serving others? How many reps per day is she meditating on her purpose? How many reps per day is she hydrating? How many reps per day is she consuming protein? The high performing female athlete does more than the program. She does more than what is expected and takes inventory of all these other components of her life. A program is as good as the athlete’s daily decisions when the coach is not watching. A program is as good as an athlete’s self-discipline. Monotonous discipline today provides a brighter future tomorrow.

Monotonous discipline today provides a brighter future tomorrow. Click To Tweet

What You Need to Do Next

Don’t get complacent. Stop doing the things you know hold you back. And stop doing the things you know are wrong. Bear the load. And do so with dignity. Stop complaining that you have too much pressure. Stop complaining when things get hard. Stop doing what is expedient. Take on the burden of responsibility and discipline with joy and gratitude. I mean, what the heck else are you going to do?

When you take responsibility and lean into discipline, not only will you be free, but your life and sports career will have more meaning. Responsibility gives you meaning. Discipline gives you freedom. And imagine how great life could be if you adopt both. God only knows what would happen, and how powerful this would be, if everyone did these. God only knows how great you can become.

Grow up and take responsibility for your life.


Get Erica’s book The Strong Female Athlete

Follow Erica on Twitter: @fitsoccerqueen

Check out her podcast: The Soccer Queens Podcast


  • Jason Gonzales
    Posted at 19:03h, 15 September Reply

    Great read 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽
    Just shared with my U17 girls ⚽️

    • erica
      Posted at 21:13h, 15 September Reply

      Thanks for reading!

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