“You can get anything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
As usual, it has been a busy couple of weeks in our program. With Conference games coming thick and fast, and crucial regional games thrown into the mix also, it is easy to get carried away by focusing solely on results. We are very careful not to get sucked into this approach. Focusing on results usually leads to players looking at the scoreboard and not at the ball. “Control the controllables” is a mantra that has been with our team throughout the season. It allows us to focus on the task at hand, step by step, and refocus when setbacks occur. Our eight game winning streak has been a by-product of this approach and our team has done a great job of taking care of the little things in these games.
At this stage of the season, the mental side of the game plays a huge part. Both our schedule and intensity of the games means that fatigue can become a factor in performance. This is where mentally strong players can take their game to another level. The mind always drives the body. “Focus” is a word that we have stressed to our team since day one of pre-season and throughout practices and games. However, at this stage of the season, “refocus” and our ability to do this as quickly as possible becomes our next goal. The quicker we can move from emotional thinking to rational thinking in games, the greater our chance of success. Effective thinking leads to good decisions, better awareness, and allows you to anticipate both opponents and teammates. We are getting better mentally but, as with all aspects of this side of the game, we still have room to improve and grow. With the Conference Tournament right around the corner, there will be plenty of setbacks for us to deal with during games. If our thinking and mindset is one of our greatest strengths, then our performances will always be consistent. Every game provides a different challenge. Yesterday we found ourselves two goals down after only five minutes. It would have been easy for unhelpful thinking to creep into our mindset, but our team showed resilience which allowed them to refocus, stay in the game, and find a way to win it. This is progress, but only if we keep building upon it can we use it as our number one strength.
It has also been a busy week off the field. Last Wednesday our team “kindly” came out in numbers to dunk me what felt like several hundred times in the SAAC Dunk Tank in support for Make-A-Wish. I think Chelsey Horan (below) had been training with the softball team as she went 3/3 and, although I was a little alarmed at how much she and the rest of the girls enjoyed it, it was great fun for a great cause. Yesterday was also our second annual “Kick Pink Day”. The team fully embraces this day and organizes pink uniforms, team warm-up jerseys, and raises money by selling t-shirts during the game. It has become a big occasion in our schedule and one that has been driven by the team, started by Casey King last year. We also have a “Kickin’ It For Our Heroes” Day on Saturday October 20th when we will host a coaching clinic and a fundraiser for the children of military parents. Our team does a lot of good work off the soccer field and I am convinced that there is a connection with our performances on the field. Strength of character is a lot more important than talent in soccer. It helps us to improve, do the right things every day, and deal with whatever challenges are thrown our way. Let’s hope we can continue to focus on the process!