What does it mean to be committed?

“The Vision of a Champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, and the point of exhaustion, when no one else is watching.”Anson Dorrance

To become a success you need to work hard in practice and training sessions. You have to be totally committed to soccer. That doesn’t mean neglecting your other responsibilities, such as school or chores, just being 100% mentally focused on soccer when you are in training or a game. When you tie-up your cleats and step onto the field, nothing else matters. You are completely attentive to soccer and only soccer. Any problems at school or with friends, parents, or significant others are gone. For the length of your training, soccer is all that matters.

Obviously, exceptions to the rule exist, but in your everyday life this needs to become the norm. Everything you do off the field needs to show a commitment to soccer as well. Doing well in school, choosing the right friends to hang out with, and other life decisions have to revolve around your personal level of commitment. Commitment is not something that others can increase for you; you have to have it inside. Ask yourself why you play the game and what you want out of it. Find how committed you are to soccer and base other decisions around that. This is a decision that you and you alone have to make.

The Use of Metaphors and Song Lyrics

Though the use of metaphors has been shown to be useful in many domains, recent research has looked into the benefits of using song lyrics as a method for athletes to examine and describe their feelings prior to, during, and after a competition.  There are two types of metaphors:  client-generated and practitioner-generated.  While both of these can be effective, the important thing to remember is that they have to resonate with the athlete and be personally meaningful to them.  These lyrics can be used to describe various situations including transitional demands such as increased training commitments or making a new team, the athlete’s motivation for playing, or a general attitude regarding an upcoming competition.

In an article by Triggs, Lafferty, Brown & Tolley (2011), they used the song “The Masterplan” by Oasis to describe a transitional period experienced by players in an English Premier League Youth Academy who are going through a time where they may be signed or released by their current club.

Some of the lyrics are as follows:

Say it loud and sing it proud today
I’m not saying right is wrong,
It’s up to us to make
The best of all the things that come our way
‘Cause everything that’s been has past

While each athlete may perceive these lyrics to mean something different, the general trend that can be taken from this is that you should focus on what you can control right now, rather than dwelling on what has happened in the past.  This is the idea that you have to make the best of what you have, and this is something that all athletes can relate to and focus on.

Another example of lyrics comes from the song “You’re the best” by Joe Esposito from The Karate Kid:

Try to believe
Though the going gets rough
You gotta hang tough to make it

These lyrics focus on the amount of effort that an athlete puts in, even with the situation is not going the way he/she wants it to.  The one thing you can always control is how hard you work.  If you continue to work hard and give it your all, you will be more likely to persevere in the face of adversity and be successful regardless of the outcome.

Why would we use these lyrics?  For some athletes, using lyrics to express their feelings can be much easier than coming up with words on their own.  For many people, there is a particular song that resonates with them for whatever reason, and allows them to relate in a way they may not have been able to do otherwise.  In addition, the use of metaphors, both in sport and out, and with lyrics and without, has been shown to decrease anxiety, decrease impulsivity, and elicit positive mood changes (Triggs, Lafferty, Brown, & Tolley, 2011).

How can we use these?  While the idea of using lyrics as metaphors can stand on its own, it can also be incorporated into other aspects of your mental training.  You can use them similar to refocusing cues and self-talk, in which you use them as a means of reminding yourself of what you want to accomplish and bring yourself back to the situation at hand.  They can also be used along with catch phrases, in that you pick a short section of the lyrics that is easily referenced in a time of a need.  Finally, and perhaps the method that encompasses all others, is to incorporate these lyrics into a training and/or pre-competition routine.  Many athletes have particular songs or types of music that they like to listen to when working out, training, and/or preparing for competition.   Incorporating these lyrics into your routine can allow you to focus your energy at a given time on how you want to feel by having lyrics that are meaningful to you to support this idea.

Triggs, C., Lafferty, M. E., Brown, H. E., & Tolley, H. L. (2011). Metaphorical Use of Song Lyrics within Sport Psychology Practice: Targeting the Transition within a Premier League Football Youth Academy. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 2(3), 183-195.

Respect and Discipline

Over the past week, the soccer world has been buzzing about the recent Liverpool vs. Manchester United match. Not the 90 minutes of gameplay, but the pre-match Premier League ritual. Liverpool forward Luis Suarez refused to shake left back Patrice Evra’s hand, which immediately sprung a negative widespread reaction. These two players have previous history as well: Suarez was banned for eight games because he racially abused Evra in October. Even though he had apologized the following day, he had already shown through his actions that he lacked the proper respect and discipline.

Discipline and respect inside and outside soccer are very important. Players need to have the ability to keep themselves calm and composed, whether they are in a youth league or the Premier League. In YSC’s Player Development Program (PDP), we teach the players about different mental aspects such as discipline and respect so they learn how to behave themselves. They learn that a respectful player is:

•      Polite and courteous to everyone on the soccer field, whether it’s their own team, the opposing team, the refs, or the fans
•      A listener that accepts positive feedback and advice
•      Appreciative of everyone who has given them the opportunity to play soccer

They learn that a disciplined player is:

•      Calm and composed and understands that everyone makes mistakes
•      One who puts forth 100% effort both physically and mentally
•      A leader who tells players that are distracted to pay attention

These two qualities are instilled in the players in the PDP program by both the coaches and the sport psychology staff. This allows them to learn how to act inside and outside the soccer field. Suarez gave young players a good lesson of how not to perform and with the help of YSC’s PDP program, we can teach these players how to be more respectful and better disciplined wherever they are.

Information of the Liverpool/Manchester United game found on:

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2012/02/12/sports/soccer/12reuters-soccer-england-suarez.html?ref=soccer

Whether that was a penalty or not…

“Whether that was a penalty or not, the referee thought otherwise.” — John Motson

In soccer, as in life, not everything is going to go your way. That’s just how it works. Learning how to respond correctly to adversity helps to make you a stronger player and person. When the referee calls a foul they have made their decision and nothing can change it. Does this mean give up? Of course not. The best players are the ones that realize that some things are out of their control and continue to play their game.

Focus on what you can control and not the intangibles to perform optimally. If you are worried about the condition of the field, you are not fully focused on what you need to do to succeed. Focus on the little things you do well to play your best game. Plan ahead for adversity so you know how you are going to respond. Come up with a list of things out of your control that could happen and establish strategies to effectively work through it.

Welcome home Chris!

The Philadelphia Union and YSC Sports are proud to welcome Philadelphia native, Chris Albright to the team. Signed this past Monday, Chris was raised in Philadelphia and played soccer for Penn Charter High School before entering a lengthy MLS career. For the past 13 years he has played for D.C. United, LA Galaxy, New England Revolution, and New York Red Bulls before finally returning to his “home turf.” With 3 MLS Cup titles under his belt, he has the experience and determination that is embraced here in Philadelphia and will be a vital addition to our defense. According to philadelphiaunion.com, manager Peter Nowak says “Chris will bring championship-caliber experience and help us throughout the season.”

With the recent losses of Sebastian Le Toux and Faryd Mondragón, the Union was down to only two true MLS veterans – Brian Carroll and Danny Califf. Albright should bring that additional leadership as well as a positive attitude to succeed. Not only does he bring an experienced mentality, but he also brings depth on the defensive line. Nowak also stated that “The mentality through the training and also pushing the guys as well the youngsters in training, is very vital… he trains very hard and tries to give it everything he has in training and directs those guys in front of him as well…” Here, Chris is leading by example, communication, and positive feedback, which are three very important characteristics of being a good leader. Even within a week of being signed, he has found his role in the group and looks to continue helping himself and his teammates get ready for the upcoming season. We are proud to have him back in his hometown of Philadelphia!

All facts and quotes were derived from these philadelphiaunion.com articles:

http://www.philadelphiaunion.com/news/2012/02/nowak-albright-brings-defensive-depth-cup-pedigree-philadelphia

http://www.philadelphiaunion.com/news/2012/02/local-hero-albright-embraces-return-philadelphia

Lin-sanity: The Drive to Succeed

The latest trend to hit New York is not Gucci or Armani, but Lin-sanity. Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks second year point guard, has burst onto the NBA scene and thrust himself into the national spotlight. However, it is not the talent that he possesses on the floor, but his mental abilities that set him apart from others. Lin is driven to succeed, proving doubters wrong every step of the way. He was a state champion player in high school with no Division-1 scholarship offers. He went on to Harvard to become the first player in league history with more than 1450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists, and 200 steals and still went undrafted. Yet, he is not deterred to get to the NBA, biding his time and eventually signing with the Golden State Warriors, appearing in just 29 games. Lin was then cut at the end of the season before signing with the Knicks where he rode the bench again before injuries forced him into the lineup. Since that day, Lin has averaged almost 27 points and 8 assists per game while leading the Knicks on a 5 game winning streak. Few would have endured such obstacles to succeed, giving up at various steps along the way. Yet, Lin overcame adversity numerous times to achieve his dream. Without the drive and determination to succeed, it is hard to say where Jeremy Lin would be now.

He is a wonderful example of what hard work and determination can do for an athlete and why giving up should not be an option. Keep pushing hard to achieve your goals and be driven to accomplish them. Want to succeed, not for others, but for yourself. Find what motivates you to run that extra lap or push just that little bit harder and when times are tough remind yourself why you are doing it. Make it personal to you and not anyone else. The next Jeremy Lin could be reading this right now, but without the drive and determination to be successful we may never know.

Want to see a typical day in the life of Jeremy Lin?
Jeremy Lin – Episode 1: A Day in the Life

UNC vs. Duke: College Basketball Rivalry

UNC vs. Duke:  One of the biggest college basketball rivalries in the nation.  Both teams met again yesterday, February 8th, for what both sides hoped would be a game to go down in the record books.  Both teams, clearly talented, faced scrutiny from the opposing sides, pressure from fans and coaches, and an extreme desire to succeed.  Due to the teams’ proximity, both sides had a high fan presence, adding to the atmosphere of last night’s game.  So what does a game like this come down to when both teams are clearly very talented?

Perseverance.  Both teams played very well, while at the same time making mistakes of their own.  Carolina held the lead by approximately ten points throughout much of the second half, until the last few minutes.  While Carolina seemed to become somewhat “comfortable” with their position in the lead, Duke continued to push through and persevere in the face of adversity when the game was not going in their favor.  Duke was determined to play as well as possible, and for them that meant a great three point shot in the last second of the game by Austin Rivers.  Throughout the last few minutes of the game Duke exhibited their true Grittiness and did whatever was necessary for them to win.  Coach Krzyzewski of Duke stated that:

“They’re really good and they can knock you out…And we didn’t get knocked out.  And as a result, we hung in there and we won the last round.  I’m not sure we won the whole fight, but the last round, we did, and we won the game.  But we fought the entire time.  We fought a really good fight.”

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/recap?gameId=320390153