The Difference Between Become A Pro Or Not Can Be The Difference Between Motivation And Commitment
GoalNation’s columnist Dan Abrahams shares his insights and advice for success on the soccer field for players of all ages. A global sport psychologist and author specializing in soccer, Abrahams is based in England and works with professional soccer players in the English Premier League (EPL). Abrahams has helped hundreds of soccer players – many of them who play in the English Premier League (EPL) and others who play across Europe. A recent example of his work includes helping Yannick Bolasie make an enormous impact on the EPL for Crystal Palace. Abrahams has held contracts with QPR, Fulham, and West Ham among other clubs and works quietly, behind the scenes with many coaches from top clubs across Europe.
Here is some great advice on becoming a professional soccer player and the difference between commitment and motivation.
What does it take to become a professional soccer player in America or England?
I’ve worked with hundreds of young players over the past decade who have the ambition to become a professional soccer player.
Here in Europe, the best young players gain scholarships from the age of 16 and win professional contracts from the age of 18. It’s two years of hard work, dedication, passion and desire to win that all important first year pro contract … and then the hard part starts!
Then the best young soccer players start at the bottom of the ladder again.
They are the least experienced players… and unless they have enormous skill in their feet then they are going to have to work their butts off to get any chance – even just starting on the subs bench.
For those going through the drafts and turning ‘pro’ it’s a vital time to get mindset and mentality right. Here are three tips that they can carry with them everyday in training:
Difference between motivation and commitment.
There is a massive difference between motivation and commitment.
You know I can’t think of a professional footballer I’ve ever worked with who isn’t motivated to do well. All players will get themselves out of bed for training – even on the days they don’t really feel like it.
To me, all young pros are motivated. But not all young pros are committed.
Commitment is different to motivation.
Commitment crosses the t’s and dots the i’s.
Commitment is doing everything to the very best of your ability, every day, every week, every month.
Commitment sees things through. Commitment doesn’t stop short a set in the gym, it doesn’t slow down in the last lung busting few minutes of a game or training session, and it pays attention to the details. It analyses matches and considers every area for success: physical, technical, tactical, psychological.
It’s easy to be motivated. It’s tough to be committed. But commitment earns and keeps the longed-for career that is emblazoned on the mind of young players. Don’t let ‘good’ get in the way of ‘great’.
I work with many players who feel they are good enough. They feel they do just enough. They feel good is acceptable. “Yeah my focus was good…I didn’t get distracted much”. “Yeah I worked quite hard in that game”, “Yeah I trained good enough this week”
To become a real professional player, or to play at the top of your game, good isn’t good enough.
Good isn’t great. Do you want to be great or just good?
Good isn’t world class. Good is just average. Good warms the bench. Good eventually dissipates to ok…to average.
World class players like Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Iniesta, and Gareth Bale are constantly analysing their game for things to improve. This isn’t negative … this is practical.
Great professionals are students of their game and of THE game. Elite players of all ages love getting better and strive to be the best they can – comparing their performance yesterday to their goals for today.
Elite players love coming out of their comfort zone and striving to execute skills they find difficult.
The best players on the field keep working towards great. They work to become and stay World Class.
Young pros shouldn’t be thinking good. They should be thinking great. They should be restless and fidgety when it comes to their ability. Train AND Practice — Deliberately.
Becoming a professional soccer player is not about getting signed.
Professional soccer players shouldn’t just train. It’s not just a physical endeavor. They should practice. They should practice their skills. They should practice their technique. They should practice their mindset and mentality. They should work with intensity AND focus.
The new professional soccer players should focus on one or two areas per week to improve upon. Don’t just go blindly into training and announce that you intend to train with intensity. Train with an eye on your skills. Pick specific skills related to the technical and tactical sides of the game you can improve.
Good players train with intensity, great players train with intensity and focus.
They OWN their game. They know that their soccer brain is wired and re-wired through the goals they hold for themselves everyday in practice. They are intentional and deliberate with their practice. If they feel their first touch needs improving they hold this as a goal for a few weeks. They intentionally focus on their first touch before, during and after practice. It is this kind of focus that makes a champion. It is this kind of focus that finds success in the MLS.
Pictures of Messi are from November, 2016: Pablo Zabaleta and Lionel Messi picturedduring of the UEFA Champions League Group C game between Manchester City and FC Barcelona on Etihad Stadium. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Dan Abrahams is a global sport psychologist specializing in soccer. He is based in England and has some of the leading turn-around stories and case studies in English Premier League history.
Abrahams is sought after by players, coaches and managers across Europe and his 2 soccer psychology books are international bestsellers. He is formerly a professional golfer, is Lead Psychologist for England Golf and he holds a degree in psychology and masters degree in sport psychology.