Mind Your Own Business

Mind Your Own Business

It's EASY...SO EASY to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, feeling as though you're lagging behind or frustrated with your current level of play. But here's the truth: Today's success doesn't necessarily predict tomorrow's success.

Reflecting on my own journey, I've witnessed firsthand the unpredictability of athletic development. I’ve seen players who at 14 years old were destined for stardom. They were far and away the best players on the national team. Untouchable. And no more than a year later, they were nowhere to be found. And I’ve seen players who were nowhere near the level at that age and even older, who developed later and went on to have excellent college or professional careers. The path to success is rarely linear, and focusing too much on others can drain your energy and enthusiasm.

So, what's the solution?

1. Take stock (objectively)

Begin by assessing your current position as a player. What are your strengths? Where do you struggle? Are you effectively contributing to your team's success? If not, why? Be as objective as possible in identifying areas for improvement. If you need help figuring this out you can go to your coach and ask for specific feedback. But make sure it is specific! Alternatively you can seek out one of our performance coaches at X&O Pro to watch your film and give you their assessment.

2. Set out to improve

Once you've identified areas for growth, devise a plan to address them. This might involve focusing on one to three specific aspects of your game and committing to improving them. Consider dedicating extra time after practice, seeking guidance from experienced mentors, or attending specialized training sessions focused on your goals.

3. Stay committed

Warning! This is where many aspiring athletes falter! Progress may not come as quickly or as dramatically as you'd hoped, and it's easy to become discouraged. But remember, improvement takes time, practice, and perseverance. Celebrate even the smallest victories, as they signal forward momentum in your development.

Short Story: When I played for Orlando City, I was determined to improve my left foot. Every day, I spent just 10 minutes after practice with our equipment manager working on different types of passes with my left. I was starting to wonder if it was worth it until one day in practice I was under pressure and wrapped a ball into the midfield with my left, the specific technique I had been focused on. Our team got out of pressure. It was insignificant to others but an enormous win for me, seeing that my training was starting to show up naturally in my game. These are the things you must celebrate!

4. Check in and adjust

Periodically reassess your plan to ensure it's still serving your needs. If you're not seeing the desired results, don't be afraid to make minor adjustments. And, if you're making progress, consider raising the bar and challenging yourself even further.

5. Don't forget to play!

Amidst the focus on improvement and growth, don't lose sight of the joy of playing the game. Dedicate at least one session per week to simply enjoying the sport without the pressure of performance or progress. Allowing yourself the freedom to play uninhibited can lead to some of the most significant breakthroughs in your development.

By embracing this mindset—focusing on your own journey, rather than comparing yourself to others—you reclaim control over your development as an athlete. It's a mindset that's not only empowering but essential for long-term success.

Author: Dillon Powers

Photo Cred: Mark Thor

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