Today I am posting about something that came into my head as I was speaking to a parent of one of the athletes who trains in my facility last night. In my business, I have worked with thousands of young athletes. Among these, the great majority are participating in my training programs to help them get in the best shape possible, so that they can obtain a university or college scholarship and play soccer for their school team.
This particular athlete, whose parent I was speaking with, is presently in her last year of high school and is considering attending (and playing soccer at) a few different universities here in Canada. She and her father were speaking to me about the amount of time she has put into her school work this year (taking some more difficult courses) and also some other extra-curricular activities outside of soccer (martial arts, volunteer work). Her father mentioned that he and his daughter had realized that she could have spent a bit less time on soccer and other extra-curricular activities, and also possibly taken some easier courses in high school that may have helped her achieve a higher grade point average, but that she decided not to take that course of action because she felt it would be like “taking the easy way out”. Both she and her father seemed to agree that by taking on some of these more difficult and time consuming responsibilities, she was building skills and competencies that would be of greater value to her in the long term than any of the possible short-term benefits associated with having more free time or a higher GPA.
I could not help but agree with everything they were saying. I have been involved in one way or another with university soccer for the past 15 years of my life (first as a player for 5 years, and then as an assistant coach and fitness coach for the next 8-10 years). During this time I have seen and learned exactly what kinds of athletes – and people – are able to be successful in that environment. In my opinion, the most important skill necessary for success in university soccer actually has nothing to do with the sport itself. It’s time management – specifically, the ability to balance the time commitments associated with school work, training/competition, and social life without burning out – that stands out as the most important skill young student-athletes must have. Student-athletes who enter into a varsity soccer program with good time management skills will be much better able to cope with the increased demands of training (at least 1 session per day); and school work (generally more demanding than anything seen in high school) without letting either one of those commitments suffer. Those not in possession of good time management skills will likely see either their grades, or their performance in the sport (or possibly both) suffer in one way or another.
The take home message for parents of high-school aged athletes aspiring to be college/university soccer players is that they should try to fill their schedules with several different challenging, demanding, and time-consuming activities, both relating to soccer as well as to other areas of interest. In my opinion, the more experience any young person can get balancing academic, athletic, and other commitments prior to post-secondary education, the more success they will have in that environment, as well as in their future adult lives.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.