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To be exceptional at anything, hard work and concentration are required. Soccer is an interesting sport, while it is fun to play, all players at some point will face the decision of whether they want to be a serious soccer player or one that just plays for fun. While this may be a no-brainer decision for some youth players, others may not understand the sacrifices that come with being a serious soccer player. The sacrifices include training instead of playing video games, living a healthy lifestyle, taking less family vacations, concentrating and focusing while at practice, and many more. Although, before I talk you out of being a serious soccer player, the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices. A college scholarship, being healthy and full of energy, making good friends, learning to be a leader, developing meaningful communication skills, and being confident are some examples of the lasting benefits that will impact you for your entire life.

When I was a youth soccer player, I played for a very competitive club team in Southern California. We had training 3 times a week and my mom needed to drive me about an hour each time just so that I could go to the sessions. Though I was a good player, I wasn’t a starter on the team. I was merely a substitute playing a little less than half of each game. The fact that I wasn’t playing made me upset and it made my father even more upset. I remember one game in particular; I had played only about 10 minutes in the entire game. On the verge of tears, I went over to my dad following the conclusion of the game and I could see the fire in his eyes. He was extremely unhappy about the fact that I had played so little in the game. He stormed over to my coach after the game and talked to him in private for what seemed like close to an hour. As I waited in the car, disappointed and eager to hear what had happened, my dad returned and explained to me that the reason I wasn’t playing was because of my concentration level in training. My coach had told him that during practice I was fooling around and joking with my friends instead of working hard and concentrating on becoming a better soccer player. I lacked the killer instinct and seriousness for the game that was required for me to become an exceptional player. 

Since that day, focus and intensity when I play has become a key aspect of my development as a player. While I still joke around and have fun with my teammates outside of practice, the moment it’s time to play, all of that is put aside and my top priority is becoming better. Eventually I did become a key starter for that same youth soccer team I played for, but it didn’t come without hard work and a higher level of seriousness. Soccer is a game, and it should be fun. Although, as for anything we do that we want to be exceptional in, concentration and focus is a requisite for growth and development. 

Have fun but work even harder.