THE UNSEEN HOURS THAT MAKE PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES
People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures. – F.M Alexander
These are testing times for the world. As you can see there is no soccer in most places in the world – from top level to grassroots. There is so much fear and worry and death that is our daily headlines on the news (I don’t watch the news by the way – too negative)
Who you choose to be during this time is what you will get out of the game at a later period. Right now, there is no training, no games, maybe you’re in quarantine or maybe you are stuck at home with no soccer field in sight and no back yard or space to kick a ball.
The question remains; how bad to do you want it? How much do you believe in your dreams? What will you do to get there? The key element is here is that right now literally no one is watching you. No scouts, no coaches, no ID Camps, no games to impress and none for the foreseeable future. But hold on to your dream and continually do the right things. As when you get into the habit of doing the right things when no one is watching you, the moment when you need to produce you are ready. Your habits shape your futures.
What would you do when a professional coach is watching you?
When the coach that decides if you get the opportunity or not is in the stands how will you behave?
Would you give more effort if you know scouts are watching you?
If the answer to any of those questions are that you would try a little harder or take it more seriously or give more than you thought you could give – then you have it backwards. One of the main things you will hear from coaches is that they want to see that intensity in training as you cannot then just produce when you want to when it matters. Train like you are playing a game. Breaking that down even further is that you live the game when you are at home or in the gym or in the off-season
. Don’t do things half-halfheartedly. Give 100% in every aspect that you can towards the dream that you what to achieve. Hold the idea of that if you give 100% even to the smaller things then when it comes to the big things it would become so much easier.
Now in an environment where you cannot train and that you cannot play games, the key to still reaching for your dreams is to create habits that will enhance your performance when you eventually get back in. Looking at your nutrition, working and strengthening at home, researching and understanding the game, understanding your position, getting touches of the ball (if you are able), keeping your fitness up and ticking over. If you want to reach your dream at many points you have to adapt to the situation you are facing, or you can give up?
Yes, COVID-19 is dangerous and yes, it is killing people left, right and center but do not let it kill your dreams too. Take this as an opportunity and put it the unseen hours that will keep you ahead of the competition. Do what others are not willing to do to get you to where you want to go.
As a professional athlete you may be contracted to a club, but I have always maintained that you are self-employed. As it is what you put it that you will get out. It is what you are willing to do that will transfer to the decisions of coaches and scouts that see and watch you play. But it is not in that moment, it is way, way before that really counts.
As an example, during my career there were times in my career when I wasn’t the flavor of the month with the manager – I know hard to believe right? So, I wasn’t in match day squads and sometimes on the weekend when they traveled away, I was at home. I was granted days off midweek and instead of staying home and going shopping with the wifey or playing PlayStation and just lounging. I came in to work to graft and train with the development squad. No manager, no assistant manager, no first team coach, definitely no fans/supporters. But I trained with a younger age group to keep myself ticking over and getting in those unseen hours that kept me a professional for as long as it did and as long as I decided to stay a professional.
Use your time wisely as it is something that you will never get back, and more importantly if you hold that dream in mind then use your time to work towards it. This wouldn’t be the road to take ideally, but the situation is what it is and individually you cannot change it. We adapt and we go again. Never lose sight when everyone around is blinded by panic.
You only have this present moment. But this moment leads to whatever future you can envision for yourself. Create more of these unseen hours that professional soccer players put in to get them to the level that they are. The constant repetition of things that worked for them.
Come out of this stronger, leaner, fitter, and even more determined to reach that goal.