By Yael Averbuch, Midfielder for F.C. Kansas City
Get more from Yael at www.yaelaverbuch.com.
Are you getting the results you were hoping for with your training? If not, follow these ten tips to success!
1. No excuses. If you genuinely want to improve your game, there should never be an excuse. As a player, the main thing that allowed me to become elite was the fact that I took personal responsibility for my development. And I still do. You should pride yourself on improving every single day. If you have team training, get there 10 minutes early or stay 10 minutes after to do something a bit extra. If you have the day off, find some time and space to work with the ball, or on another aspect of the game you want to improve. Even if you are injured or resting physically, you can watch soccer during that time or work on other mental skills. I have trained in parking garages, my living room and hotel basements. If you want to do it, you can find a way.
2. Make it fun. It’s really hard to force yourself to do something miserable for the long haul. To develop a consistent training regimen, I recommend finding ways to train that are enjoyable to you. I often bring my iPod shuffle out to the field or into the racquetball court. I develop routines to follow, so my training doesn’t take too much mental energy. Often, I find going through a routine is almost meditative. Some parts of training—like grueling fitness—will never be super fun. But if you can reframe how you view your training and see it as the platform that will allow you to express yourself on the field to the best of your ability, that process will be enjoyable.
3. The resources are out there. If you have the motivation to train, there is always tons of help to find the best ways to accomplish what you want. Between YouTube, training apps, social media and experts in your area, if you look you will find plenty of ideas. I recommend following a few sources on social media that put out training content you like. Whether it is motivation, tutorials on how to perform certain skills, or actual training sessions you need, there is no excuse not to do the bit of research necessary to find it.
4. Find a training partner. Training is always easier when you have company. Whether it’s a teammate with the same ambition as you, a sibling to help throw you balls or time you, or a parent to just come hang out at the field on a nice day, training is always better with an accomplice. It’s great to find that go-to person you can count on and who will hold you accountable, but don’t rely on anyone besides yourself when it comes time to get it done.
5. Be creative! Part of navigating your own journey as a player is finding creative solutions to get it done. A coach once told me, “If you do the same thing as everybody else, you will be just like everybody else.” It seems obvious, but it’s very true. Your unique ways of doing drills, or the special spots you find to train are what make you special. Take what you’ve seen out there and make up your own versions, develop your own style, and run with it!
6. Listen to your body. Part of training at a high level is taking care of your body. Allowing yourself enough recovery time and not playing through injuries are vital to continued improvement. Your body is the tool you need to play the game you love. Treat it with respect and listen when it’s telling you to slow down or stop. No one day, or week, of training is worth exacerbating an illness or injury that could keep you out for months. Soreness and fatigue are ok, but everyone knows the type of pain or worn down feeling that is not safe to push through. Trust your instincts on this. If you train consistently throughout the year, taking some days, or even weeks, off is not a big deal.
7. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to consult the experts. One area of my game that I have wanted to improve is the athletic side. I wasn’t sure what was best to do and couldn’t push myself as much as I needed without help. So I found Performance Coach Chris Gorres to help me. You don’t have to know it all. You just have to be able to ask for assistance. I take a lot of pride in navigating and owning my journey as a player. Part of doing that has been being aware of what I don’t know and asking for help in those areas. That may mean a coach sitting down with you to watch video footage of your game to offer tactical help, a trainer to show you proper striking technique with the laces, a fitness program, or even some extra motivation when you feel your own lagging. Whatever it is you need to support your journey, it is up to you to ask.
8. Keep score. One great way to keep yourself motivated and track your progress is to choose training drills in which you can keep score. This is one reason I am a huge advocate of juggling. Not only is juggling ideal for improving many aspects of touch and coordination, it is very easy to track your improvement as a player. Whether it is a juggling record, different type of challenge, or something you do that is timed, having measurable results is very valuable, mentally and improvement-wise.
9. Record your work. Something I have done over the years that I’ve found fun and helpful is to keep a training calendar. Not only do I plan out my weeks of training in advance, but I also write down a bit about what I did each day. At times I’ve included my scores from the day, where I trained, and the specifics of what I did. It’s amazing to look back over a month, and then eventually a year, to see the work you’ve put in. It’s a wonderful visual of how each little bit adds up. Plus, it’s fun to look back at some of the memorable days when you had to train in funny places and still make it work!
10. No coach can decide how good you will be. You may be considered the star player on your team, or maybe you are a reserve player or have even been cut from teams. Coaches are entitled to opinions. Committing to your training is empowering because it allows you to be in control—not of the player you are in this very moment—but of the player you will be. Decide on your vision of your ultimate self on the field. What skill sets will that require, mentally, physically, tactically, and technically? Once you have an understanding of what it will take, you can start chipping away and building yourself into that player. It will be a long, and at times difficult, journey, but you can own that journey.
"Pursue your dreams with every ounce of your being, but above all, LOVE the JOURNEY."