Chapter 39: YOU DON’T CONTROL PLAYING TIME – ROOKIE: Surviving Your Freshman Year of College Soccer
Before you bury yourself under the stress of not playing, accept that you aren’t the one who controls your playing time; your coach does. I know this is much easier said than done, but you’ve got to stay focused on the things you can control, and you can start with your effort.
Here’s my advice: Focus on doing your very best and competing your hardest and outworking everyone each and every day. Don’t focus on the end (playing time); focus on the process of becoming the best player you can possibly be. As you become a better player, your chances of playing more will improve.
When you focus on your playing time, you’re burdening yourself with a lot of unnecessary stress. I’ve seen players so consumed with why they weren’t playing that they completely ruined their college soccer experience and even took some teammates down in the process. Don’t get tangled up in the things you can’t control. It’s a battle you’ll never win and it will sap the life right out of you.
I don’t know why you started playing soccer, but I know why you stuck with it; you kept coming back to soccer because it was fun. You enjoyed it so you kept playing it. Don’t let playing time suck the fun out of this sport you love. You’ll only hurt your own cause.
Playing time is first won on the practice field. You’ll play better when you focus on giving your best effort and keeping the game enjoyable. Anything else you do will be counter-productive to your cause. Control what you can control and then hope for the best.
Sitting on the bench can be the most emotionally traumatizing part of a player’s college soccer experience. You went to college to play college soccer, not watch it. You’ve never been told you’re not good enough. You’ve probably started every game for every team you’ve ever been a part of, and now you’re relegated to the role of spectator. It can be frustrating and maddening and all of that negative emotion can burn a hole through your stomach. I totally get it. But no matter the level of your anguish, you’ve got to find a way to manage it that will be in the best interest of both you and your team.
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