Do You Want to Standout? Be a 10…At Something!
I routinely get asked what qualities I look for in a player. Whether recruiting for my college team, deciding who will make the travel squad , picking a starting lineup, or making a substitution, it usually comes down to one glaring component…the player must possess an ELITE quality. In other words, you have to be really good at something!
A few years ago I lived in a small town that was not filled with tons of glamorous dining experiences. After complaining to a friend about the town’s limited restaurants, he recommended a Mexican establishment on the outskirts of the campus. At first glance this suggestion was hard to believe, as I had driven by it several times and it made me think more of condemnation than a culinary dream. But since this friend knows his food, I thought I would give it a go.
On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best), the restaurant’s aesthetics were a 3; the two types of salsa offered were a 5, and the enchiladas were consistently a 6. However, this place had THE BEST brisket tacos known to man. Easily a 10 every time ordered! As a result, I picked to eat here every time my wife recommended we have a meal out as I knew I could get this great dish.
My point and the connection to soccer? I have worked with so many players who focus on what they cannot do. It totally consumes them. I watch them get frustrated, lose confidence, and only get slightly better at that task. Instead, pick a quality you can excel at in your game and elevate it. If you have pace, say a 7 on the scale above, train to make it a 9. If you are an 8 in front of goal, perfect your finishing to become a 10. Take a look at your game and craft a skill to hang your hat on day in and day out. Something your coaches, teammates, and yourself know you are bringing to the table that is just different from your competitors.
A player I recently coached epitomizes this. She isn’t the fastest player on the field, probably a 5. She is above average technically, a 6 overall. Don’t get me wrong, she is athletic and she can kick a ball. She is good enough at the fundamentals of the game. But she is THE BEST player I have ever coached in the air. She can attack, elevate, and head a ball at an elite level. Easily a 10 every time she steps on the field at this task! The result? A college scholarship, a starting role, and an important member of a DI team.
The players I see struggle to standout are the ones that are a 5 or 6 at every skill needed to play soccer; pretty good players overall, but not great at any one component. If this is you, change your mindset and approach. I’m not saying you shouldn’t improve your weaknesses. No doubt you should chip away at them and make them good enough. But when it comes to making an impact, think more about the brisket tacos at the dive Mexican joint than the salsa or enchiladas. If you do, you will see your confidence rise, your game improve, and opportunities will come your way.