What Soccer Taught Me About Life

I’ve been playing soccer for over 10 years. I’m only 15.

Consequently, soccer has become a major part of my life. I’ve played in toddlers’ leagues, recreational leagues, travel leagues, academy leagues, and for my high school.

Over the years, my passion for it has grown, and I’ve become aware of so many aspects of soccer that relate to life. So, what have I learned?

This may not come as a surprise; after all, soccer is a team sport. You have to work together if you want to get anywhere. To little me, however, this was really weird. Yes, I knew that “sharing is caring,” but it had never been completely necessary to work together.

However, soccer hasn’t just taught me that I need to work with other people, it’s taught me how.

Teamwork is give and take. If one person doesn’t do their job, then the other people have to pick up the slack or everything will fall apart. I need to do my job in group work, and everyone else needs to do theirs. If someone doesn’t, I either need to pick up the slack or get them to move and do the work.

Perspective is super important in soccer. A midfielder taking a corner kick sees the field differently than a forward calling for the ball or a defender watching out for a counterattack.

With everyone in a different position and looking at something from a different angle, other people can see problems and obstacles that I don’t. I could pick out a spot to put the ball from the corner, but if I was a forward I might not see the path.

Furthermore, each player was trained differently depending on their position. A defender could see the all the obstacles because they were trained to notice all the players. A midfielder, on the other hand, could see the gaps between the players because they were trained to see the possibilities.

People have different experiences, and that shapes the way they see the world. My experiences predispose me to look for one thing, but someone else sees something else.

The different perspectives have to be shared in order to make them count. A goalie has to tell a defender if there is another opposing player so they know to look for them. A defender has to tell the midfielder of a player going to double team them so they can pass the ball before they’re trapped.

It’s not enough to know that people see it differently, I need to listen to them and share my own experience so that we can all come to the best conclusion. As an introvert, it has always been hard to speak up, but I came to learn that the difference between a goal and a lost ball could be me warning someone about a player coming up behind them.

It isn’t always easy to communicate on the soccer field, though. There are so many noises on the field, and it can be hard to hear when someone’s trying to tell me something. It’s really important to project, otherwise my voice will be lost.

This applies in society and, in my experience, school. Whether or not you have the best idea, it’s usually the ideas of the people who shout that get picked to expand on.

It doesn’t matter if I’m winning or losing, I have to go at 100% the entire game. When playing a high-level team, they will take advantage of it if I am playing anything less than my best. I’ve played in games where we had a 3–0 lead at the half, but the game ended in a tie or a loss.

This works both ways, and our effort can help us come back after we are losing. Until the final whistle blows, nothing is certain, and the game could go to either side.

Life works in exactly the same way. Projects for school or work can be improved right up to when you have to hand them in. Relationships can be fixed as long as you’re willing to put in the work.

I’ve played on really good teams, and I’ve played against really good teams. The winner is usually the team that puts in the work, during games and practices, on and off the field.

The end result is not the full story, and if someone aced a test, it’s usually because they studied and payed attention in class. If someone presents a good solution to a problem at work, they’ve probably been thinking about it a lot.

Be the person who puts in the work behind the scenes. So many people just think that they can perform once the pressure’s on, but that only works when they’ve spent hours upon hours practicing.

In January of 2019, I refused to go to practice. I was fed up with traveling 45 minutes just to sit on the side for the whole practice because I was injured. Soccer, for me, was an embodiment of the phrase ‘too much of a good thing is bad.’ I had been feeling it for months, and instead of taking a small break when it started, I let it fester until I snapped.

Even doing something that I love needed to be done in moderation. I had a higher tolerance for it than other work, but it still became too much. For work that I like less, I take breaks more often to keep my mind as interested in it as I can.

Key Takeaways

  • Teamwork is give and take
  • Other people see the world differently
  • Communication can make or break a play
  • It’s not over until it’s over
  • If you want glory, put in the work
  • It’s okay to take breaks

Hi! Thanks for reading my article, and I hope you enjoyed it! If you want to connect with me, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn or subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

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Sydney Lie Merrill

Hi! I'm a 15 year old with an interest in psychology, biomimicry, and neuroscience.