Essential Commitments for Footballers: Balancing Skill Growth with Life's Demands
"You must put in the hours on the practice pitch if you are serious about being the best you can be on the football field."
The wisdom of those words echoes through the journey of every aspiring footballer. The path to excellence is paved with dedication, passion, and the pursuit of improvement. The top players, the ones who stand out on the pitch, share a common trait – an unrelenting commitment to honing their skills.
The Heart of Achievement
For many, the journey begins with ambition, with envisioning the glory of the game. Some find themselves in the right place at the right time, surrounded by the right people. Matthew Syed's book "Bounce" tells the tales of these serendipitous journeys. But no matter the starting point, once ambition is ignited, the hours invested become a labor of love. Hours turn into minutes when one enjoys the process – the very heart of achievement.
Growing up, we gravitate towards role models. These figures of inspiration cultivate traits like work ethic, diligence, practice, manners, and respect. We read biographies and follow favorite players on social media, catching glimpses of their success stories. Phrases like "trial and error," "discipline," and "long nights pre-season" resonate through these tales of triumph.
Striking the Balance
However, the key lies in balance. We are not professionals solely committed to the sport. We juggle school, careers, friends, and family – all relying on us. This reality demands smart work. We educate ourselves on nutrition, age-appropriate exercise programs, and ways to optimize our fitness for the sport we love.
Niall Moyna's Insights
Niall Moyna, as quoted in the Irish Times, sheds light on skills development in his reference to the prolonged intensity of physical training pre season: "Is it worth all the effort for that because in the last 15 years I’ve yet to walk away from a championship game saying, ‘that team lost because they weren’t fit enough’?" He emphasizes a shift in focus from relentless physical training to comprehensive skill development. He advocates that teams could significantly improve their game by a mere 10% enhancement in conversion rates.
"The only way to recruit those muscles in a specific way is to go out and in an average week kick 300 balls over the bar."
The Kick Co. was born out of a clear realization: kids in rural areas were losing touch with basic physical skills. Remember when kicking a ball 300 times a day was a cherished pastime? Times have changed. Now, screens hold more allure for kids aged 5 to 18, and this is affecting how they grow in sports. In fact, 65% drop out of sports by age 16. This situation reminds us of something important: we need to make sports inclusive for all. Especially in places like Ireland, where some talents might be hidden due to barriers. The pull of screens and early burnout are disconnecting young people from active lives. This is our call to action – let's widen our approach, and make playing sports more accessible, and make sure every young person experiences the joy of play.