I recently encountered an intense feeling of déjà vu.
In 2009, during preseason with FC Gold Pride I pulled my quad. I was out for three weeks of preseason.
Editors Note: For the record, the only two preseasons I have gotten injured in are the only two preseasons where we haven’t done any straight up running for fitness. My body is so stupid.
Two weeks ago I sprained my knee during one of our preseason training sessions. Though glad it was only a sprain, I was frustrated as hell that I was experiencing a setback during a time when I felt good.
Similar to five years ago, recovery involved rehab and working out on my own. While I was icing my knee the other day, I had a flashback to 2009 and that feeling of missing out on preseason. A time where building yourself up was necessary for the next five months.
Unlike five years ago, I not only missed out on some of preseason, but I also missed the first game of the 2014 season. This was a hard pill to swallow. The one for the inflammation in my knee. It’s kind of big. The pill. Not my knee.
Anyway. That season with FC Gold Pride did not go as planned. I fell behind during preseason because I didn’t keep up with the workouts. I had a few good games, then a few bad games, and I let down pretty easily. I never fully recovered from the bad games mentally, and I never caught up on the time I missed in preseason physically.
It’s amazing how déjà vu can be a good thing. It was my reminder. I have come such a long way since then. I was really young. And thought I was invincible. I learned a lot about myself that year, most importantly how to be a professional.
When I realized my knee was a little banged up, (cue the Tiffaknee jokes) I knew this time would be much different from last time. I knew what I had to do to maintain all the work I put in in the offseason.
I looked back at that time with FC Gold Pride and am always thankful for it. I needed to mess up otherwise I would be in this situation with no prior experience for dealing with an injury, mentally or physically.
I may have used this quote before, but it is ever so pertinent in every freakin thing I write about here:
“Do not assume that he who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, he would never have been able to find these words.” -RMR
In other words “I’ve seen some shit.”
Otherwise I wouldn’t share my experiences.
This time, I didn’t dwell on the fact that I couldn’t play. I didn’t constantly talk about it. In fact, I didn’t want to talk about it at all. I got in for treatment and rehab and did what I had to do. I did the extra work on the anti gravity treadmill and strengthened the parts that needed to be strengthened. I watched soccer more because I couldn’t be involved in training.
I’m not perfect by any means. Just the other day I had a gummy worm on the bench during our game. (IT WAS BEGGING TO BE EATEN) But I have learned a lot from my past. And I know that perfection is unrealistic. So I do the best I can.
That’s for everything in life, not just sports. When something is new, you don’t always know the best way to do it. Only through trial and error can we figure out what works best for ourselves.
Now I can’t ignore the fact that the better I treat my body, my mind and the people around me, the better I will perform at whatever it is I do. It took me a while to figure out exactly what all that means, but once I did, the choices became easier to make.
Lessons learned. Do what you need to do, to be who you want to be.
Top Ten Lessons Learned as a Professional Soccer Player
1. Don’t think about yourself so much – it’s no fun being in your own head all the time and others need you more than you need you
2. Eat well, sleep well, drink water… well
3. Watch soccer on TV – that’s a way to improve without having to physically exert yourself
4. Evaluate yourself after training and games and then leave it alone. Don’t dwell on every single performance. You’ll drive yourself crazy.
5. Find things/people outside of soccer to escape from time to time
6. Do extra. Fifteen minutes before or after training a few times a week adds up quickly.
7. Watch your own games a few times and take notes
8. Ask what you need to work on and enjoy the process of getting better
9. Accept the fact that you’ll have different roles, depending on the day
10. Most important – and the simplest – don’t forget why you play the game. Keep reminders on your wall or on your wrist, or at the bottom of your cereal bowl – you play because you love the beautiful game and at the end of the day, you always have to bring yourself back to that reality.