By Todd Beane TOVO Academy Barcelona
Do you know what all the best players have in common? It’s not just their skill sets, but how they develop them. There are ways of thinking and behaving that are in your control in your life and on the field that will help you stand out from the pack.
I have had the opportunity to work with amazing people at pro clubs like Ajax Amsterdam and FC Barcelona and at top universities like Dartmouth College and Stanford University. All of the most successful players I’ve encountered have something in common: they understand where to focus their time, energy, and attention.
Here are 3 tips on where you should focus to be your best:
Tip #1 Manage yourself. Take control of your choices.
The first step to any journey is to realize that you are the protagonist. Nobody else is you. Nobody else has exactly the same skill, knowledge or character as you. You are unique. You are you.
The moment you take control of your learning is the moment you progress.
No coach can stop you. No friend can derail you from your purpose. You are not to be distracted. You can become more intelligent, more skilled and more resilient when you choose to do so.
What does it mean to manage yourself?
It means making healthy choices. Do you choose to eat nutritious foods or junk food? Do you choose to stay on TikTok or go to sleep? Do you train extra on your own? Do you respect your family, friends, and teachers in your life?
All of the above you control today.
You either make healthy choices or you do not. One at a time. Which will it be? A choice that helps you become a better student athlete or a choice that does not? You control your choices. Thus, you control you.
Managing yourself is a mindset: a powerful and positive mindset. It requires three commitments.
- Do your best
- Have fun
If you do these three things, you will become the best version of yourself.
It’s all up to you.
Tip #2 Manage Space. Scan your environment to find space.
This tip sounds a bit odd, I know.
Both on and off the field, the most aware student athletes tend to succeed. The best scan their environment to read the most important variables. In school, that means understanding what the teacher expects of you and what you will need to learn the material.
On the field, it is similar. You learn to scan. Specifically, you can learn to scan for 4 variables. (“BOTS”)
- The Ball
Here you do not completely control the actions of others. In fact, the opponents are working against you. But you can always find and exploit space based upon what you see. Therefore, you will want to train yourself to look around constantly as the variables change continually. The best players collect the data and then find solutions in the space.
As you train today, try one thing.
Scan constantly. Train yourself to pass and peek. Collect data. Then collect more. Train yourself to look 360 degrees around you to see the space before you touch the ball. In this way, you will be a player of great vision. You will be a player who manages yourself and the space.
Tip #3 Manage the Ball. Make the ball your friend by spending time with it.
Johan Cruyff once said, “Make the ball your friend.”
In school, if you cannot manage numbers, you will not be able to provide a math solution.
On the field, if you cannot control the ball, you will not be able to provide a solution.
Soccer requires you to execute your choices. The best of you will build your skill set so that you have many more solutions. More skill, more options, more solutions, more success.
So what can you do?
Follow Cruyff’s advice and make the ball your friend. Have fun on your own. Kick the ball against a wall. Play soccer tennis with a friend. Play pick up in the park or in the gym. Train to dominate the ball.
Since you are in control of you, you can also be in control of your free time. Choose to be with the ball and the ball will reward your friendship in a match.
You control you, so manage yourself well.
You can read the environment, so manage space.
And if the ball is your friend, you can make magic happen.
Take these tips to heart and you can take your game wherever you want it to go. Enjoy!
Todd graduated from Dartmouth College in 1986 with a B.A. in English Literature. Upon graduation, he was awarded a Rotary Scholarship to attend the University of Sussex in England. Todd concluded his formal studies at Stanford University where he earned a M.A. in Education and a Secondary Teaching Credential. As an athlete, Todd played NCAA Division I soccer at Dartmouth College before playing professional soccer in the USISL. As a coach, he was awarded a US Soccer Federation “A” License, coaching both collegiately and professionally. He has served on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University as Director of the Native Vision Program and later as Director of the Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica.
TOVO at its core is a driving ambition to transform lives for the better. Our goal is to maximize the full potential of student-athletes worldwide. This program is ideal for teenagers who have ambitions within football and beyond. To learn more about TOVO and their programs please go to: https://www.tovoacademy.com/train-abroad/