Chapter 30: TELL, DON’T ASK – ROOKIE: Surviving Your Freshman Year of College Soccer
At some point during training you’ll be playing small-sided games, and because the numbers didn’t work out quite right, your team will have a sub and the coach will leave it up to your team to take care of its own substitutions. He’ll expect that every minute or two the sub will be rotated onto the field.
When you are the sub and it’s time to get back on the field, you’re going to be too scared to call a returning player off the field, so you’ll opt to sub a fellow rookie out of the game. This might work once. It might work twice. But it won’t go on like this forever. Eventually the rotation will dictate that you’re going to have to cowboy up and pull a returning player off the field. If you’re not a naturally assertive personality, this is going to be an uncomfortable moment and a tremendous test of your courage.
The players on the field don’t want to come out of the game. The returners know that because you’re a rookie, you’re going to be pretty intimidated, and they are going to use that against you. You’ll notice them mysteriously avoiding eye contact with you. This isn’t by accident. If you’re going to get them off the field, they’re going to make you earn it by stepping up and showing some courage.
If you softly call out to the player you’re trying to sub, she’s going to pretend that she doesn’t hear you. If you politely ask her if she wants to come off the field, she will politely decline. If you ask if she needs a rest, she will tell you no.
Now, you can spend a season learning what I’m about to tell you, or you can just trust me right from the start. In these situations, Tell! Don’t ask! Muster up a half-second’s worth of courage and forcefully shout out that returner’s name! When she looks in your direction, just wave her off as you start jogging onto the field.
Will she love it? No. Will she get over it? Yes. In about four seconds. Why? Because she knows this is how the system works and she knows the system is fair. A minute later she’ll be shouting at someone else to get off the field and it won’t bother her one bit. It’s all part of the evolution.
You won’t win a spot by standing on the sidelines. Sometimes getting on the field means fighting your way onto it. If you don’t want to spend your whole rookie season watching other people play, you’ve got to be courageous enough to sub yourself onto the field.