Youth Athletes: Good Old-Fashioned Hard Work Matters

Youth Athletes: Good Old-Fashioned Hard Work Matters

Somewhere out there, there’s a young girl who justifies the world is backwards. So incredibly backwards, it makes my stomach knot.

Her name: Olivia Moultrie.

Agree with her journey or not, she’s just a young girl who has an illuminating passion for soccer, an insatiable desire to train, and an unmatched drive to live her dreams.

Yet, she still receives an immense amount of backlash, questioning, and crap from everyone following along.

The world is backwards, yo.

We commend hard work, but eager to poop on it.

We tell people to follow their dreams, but quick to criticize those who do.

So before I blow your mind further on the state of humanity, allow me to clarify one thing: this will not be an article discussing the case of Olivia Moultrie. That is the scope for a separate dissertation, as well as me spending several hours locked in a dark room, staring at my laptop and tapping away my keyboard with a box of Oreos in-hand.

Yeah. Not happening.

Admittedly, I opened with the Olivia Moultrie analogy to grab your attention about this whole hard-work-thing-a-ma-gig.

If you’re still reading, it worked.

Darn. I’m GOOD.

Tantalizing diction aside, where the heck was I? Oh yeah! Good old-fashioned hard work.

It matters.

Again, have your opinions about Olivia Moultrie, but don’t fight me on this truth: she’s one hell of a hard worker.

And if you do want to fight me, meet me in Baltimore, Maryland. I’m ready. ;-O

Moreover, meet me here and please say to me with a straight face that in order to reach a level of mastery and genius, you DON’T have to put in the work.

LOLOLOL. That is adorable!

Tenacious and consistent hard work is what separates the high performers from the mediocre. And I absolutely laud Olivia for this. Again, this is not a discussion on her journey. It’s a discussion on hard work, so please spare me the comments and emails asking me about my thoughts on her. I won’t respond.


Even if you don’t want to go professional at age 13, in order to become the best athlete, hard work pays off, namely in the form of consistent habits for the long run.

Practicing at home.

Training the gym.

Asking coaches for feedback.

Taking action on that feedback.

Being open to criticism.

Getting lit up from criticism.

Practicing more in your front yard.

Reading books on sport psychology.

Dialing in your nutrition.

Saying no to partying with friends.

Practicing at home some more.

Taking the conversation back to how backwards the world is, whenever someone works for something they love with grit and fervor, people call them “crazy” or “too much” or “weird.”

What’s even worse is, people are rapid to fire out criticism and say things like “don’t work too hard” or “are you sure your mental health is okay?”

Freaking backwards, I say. 

People are hating on good old-fashioned hard work, as if we should live mediocre lives, not follow our dreams, repress creativity, ignore our true passions, get complacent, plop on a couch, eat Fritos all day, and worse yet, mold to the status quo.

For some reason, passion has its way of taking on a negative connotation.

But I’d argue in order to evolve to the next level as a player, you need to ooze that “crazy” passion. As author Mark Manson says, “you can’t be an important life-changing presence to some people without also being a joke and embarrassment to others.”

Certainly, Olivia Moultrie is an inspiration to thousands of youth athletes who struggle to get in their front yards and practice on their own.

But, she’s also a joke to coaches and parents in the youth soccer system who just await her demise like haters.


I’m not going to digress here.

I’m on a roll.

Youth sports are getting competitive. Academy play is getting competitive. College recruiting is getting competitive.

And the chances to making the national team are as slim as you flying into the sunset on a unicorn with Taylor Swift.


But with a little good old-fashioned hard work and relentless consistency, you can make the national team.

You can make varsity as a freshman.

You can earn a starting spot.

You can go from rec to travel.

You can get off Instagram and juggle for an hour.

However, performance goals like these, no matter how big or small, are going to come with emotional costs.

It’s hard work physically, but also, mentally. Haters. Jealousy. Skeptics. Naysayers. As long as you accept trolls will exist, it’s okay to reach high for your dreams and endure the duress that comes on the side. And it’s okay to get off social media, and replace your phone with a ball.

At times, it will be tough on the journey to becoming a true master.

Do you think I’m stress free as I spew out hundreds of blog articles, coach several hours a day, write programs, and draft two upcoming books?

Do you think Alex Morgan is chilled out as she prepares for the World Cup and is expected to score every game by her fans?

Do you think Messi is relaxed when the Argentinian national team puts pressure on him to win games?

All of this goes for sports ,career, creative projects, and so much more. Hard work matters, and it will come with costs. It’s up to you to decide if they’re worth it, and if you’re ready for the imperfect, oscillating ride.

You can’t refute that in order to be adept in anything, you have to do it with intensity.

And be a little bit of a “maniac.”

And be able to deal with friction.

Of course, there will be times when you take time off and recover, but overall, you’re practicing consistent, daily habits over a lifetime to better your craft. You’re leaning into the subtle art of good old-fashioned hard work – a practice so forgotten in today’s quick-fix, magic pill culture.

So if you disagree with everything I just said, or you think hard work doesn’t matter, then maybe you’ve never spent time in the trenches.





For soccer strength and conditioning programs and more hard work, Work With Me Online.

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