Chapter 38: THE TRUTH ABOUT PLAYING TIME – ROOKIE: Surviving Your Freshman Year of College Soccer
Playing time is the currency of athletics. Your identity and your celebrity are inextricably linked to the number of minutes you spend on the field. Your coach knows that. And he knows the same applies to every one of your teammates.
College soccer is a cannibalistic frenzy for playing time. Everyone wants to graduate to the tier above, but no one is lowering a rope to lift up the teammates on the tier below. There’s a lot of emotion tied into the prospect of playing time, but none of that matters when it comes time for your coach to choose a line-up.
Before we go any further, you need to understand that regardless of how good you think you are, you are not entitled to playing time. You’re not playing club soccer any more. There are no more league rules that say you have to play at least half the game. Your parents aren’t paying league dues. As a matter of fact, if you’re on an athletic scholarship, the soccer team is paying you; that makes you an employee. You’ve reached a level where soccer is no longer about participation; now it’s about results.
Only 11 players get to be on the field at any given time. Someone has to decide who the best 11 players are, and that job falls to the coach. It is his job to evaluate talent. Why? Because somebody must.
Remember, your coach has a job he wants to keep and that all hinges on winning soccer games. That means his decisions about playing time are going to be based on winning. He gives playing time to the players who he feels give his team the best chance to win games. If he believes you’ll help his team win, you’ll get on the field. Period.
If you’re not getting the playing time you want from college soccer, the rest of this section will help you understand how to deal with your predicament and give yourself the best chance of earning more time.
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