Chapter 48: FEEDBACK – ROOKIE: Surviving Your Freshman Year of College Soccer
If you’re not playing as much as you like, I assure you it’s not because the coach doesn’t want his best players on the field. So the question that you need to ask isn’t: Why am I not playing? The question you need to ask is: What can I do to become a better player? And the person you want to answer that question is your coach.
Periodically asking for feedback is a good idea, even if you’re a fixture in the starting line-up. None of us are beyond improvement. And if you’re not reaching your playing-time goals, then you have an even clearer reason for soliciting your coach’s opinions. Your coach will be happy to offer you suggestions because your personal improvement is in his best interest.
When it comes to soliciting feedback, there are some things to keep in mind. First of all, you probably get feedback every day when you’re on the practice field. Make sure you’re improving on the things that have already been asked of you.
Secondly, there’s a fine line between asking for feedback and campaigning for playing time. When you ask a coach why you aren’t starting or why you aren’t playing more, it doesn’t matter what words actually come out of his mouth, the answer can be translated to: Right now there are some players who are better than you.
Instead of asking why you’re not playing, try phrasing your query like this: Coach, I’d like to try to earn more playing time. What areas do you think I should be focusing on to improve?
Now, when your coach takes the time to answer that question, he isn’t talking just to hear himself speak. Some players constantly ask for feedback as a way to feign interest in actually improving. If you’re going to ask your coach for feedback, follow through by putting in the time and effort to improve, and that probably means coming out to practice early or staying late.
Let me clear up another wonderful misconception about putting in the extra time. Some players feel that if they set up an extra training session or two with the coaches that they’ll automatically receive more playing time as a reward for putting in a few extra hours of work. That’s not how it works. This isn’t like turning in an extra-credit assignment to bring up your grade in history class. You don’t train more to get more playing time. You train more to become a better player. When you become a better player, then your chances of playing more will naturally improve. Ultimately your playing time isn’t determined by the amount of hours you log; it’s determined by your ability to help the team win.
When your coach gives you feedback, he’s done you a tremendous favor because again, he has fed you the answers. You have to be smart enough to capitalize on his generosity by putting in the right kind of work to become a better player.
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