By: Katie Ponce I Aug. 13, 2105
For the first time in a long time, I am not in preseason getting ready to start another fall season. As athletes, we prepare all year for season. The games are the moments we work so hard for, to show how much we have improved. As the games get closer, we kick it into high gear, making preseason one of the most intensely draining times of the year. Physically and mentally, you’re pushed, hoping it will help individuals and the team climax at all the right times during the season. It might be because I am feeling a little more nostalgic than usual (being that I’m a recent college graduate), but this week I am going give my veteran advice on how to best prepare for preseason.
The concept of training twice a day, plus team meetings, plus team bonding, every day, for a least two weeks is actually kind of insane when you think about it – especially for girls. Asking a group a girls to spend that much time together is just asking for trouble. Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and seeing my old teammates training for their upcoming season, makes me really miss the freezing ice baths, cafeteria food and practices that end with “Get on the line!”. There is just something about being a part of the experience that drives the competitor in me. It’s more than all the soccer… there are so many factors that go into making a preseason the best it can be. Creating team chemistry is something that every team needs in order to meet their definition of success. I’ve learned every team is different, and even during my four years of college, each year, with new and altering squads, we found new and different solutions for our offense and defense. Despite the changes from year to year and team to team, there are several factors that we, as individuals, control.
It may already be too late, but getting into shape has always been my main priority going into every season, including my season with the Breakers. Being in shape has always been what I have used to make a first impression and it makes the rest of the game much easier. Some of you may be luckier than others with how easy it is to stand out in a fitness test. However, it’s important to remember that coming into preseason prepared and ready to work is a choice we make.
Something I think I still struggle with is limited outside distractions during preseason. Missing home or fighting with an outside relationship is hard to put on hold when it’s time to focus on playing soccer. However, I’ve seen it can really make a difference. Fixating on emotions brings stress, affects our sleeping habits, and in time, hurts our recovery. I’m not suggesting turning off all communication with the outside world; it’s 2015 and that’s almost impossible to ask. However, surrounding yourself with positive thoughts and eliminating the thoughts of what fun the non-athletes are having during preseason is a good place start.
Finally, my biggest tactic for success and my best advice for preseason is setting goals. I know goal setting may seem corny, but it is absolutely part of my routine before every season. Effective goal setting includes thinking about measurable, realistic goals. Wanting to win the conference, or score the most goals may be totally attainable to you as an individual and both are great accomplishments, but there’s no way to measure if every day you are getting closer to that goal.
I still have the notecard of goals that I signed and kept in my locker for my senior season of college. It reads: I will not accept my peers not giving me their best each and every day. I promise to give everything I have on and off the field in order to set an example for my team and commit myself to driving them to achieve their full potential. The only way I knew I could meet my goal was if I could honestly answer ‘yes’ when I asked myself each day, “Did I do everything I could today?”
Being that there is always so much pressure on the season, oftentimes players fall short of what is expected from them. I believe the promises I made at the beginning of each of my many seasons, allowed me to constantly affirm I was doing what I set out to do. Here’s my biggest piece of advice for all the athletes about to start their fall season - don’t let this season be one you regret. Don’t be the player that looks back at the end of season and wishes they did more. Season only comes once a year so make the most of it.
And then it stops coming and you’re graduated spending your time writing about how you miss preseason…
(2015 preseason at Soliders Field Soccer Stadium)
The Boston Breakers are still finishing this season, before they can have preseason on their minds. But as fans it is definitely time to get excited because 2016 season tickets are already on sale! The first 200 to order will receive a NWSL/USWNT poster signed by Alyssa Naeher! Also any fan that orders before Oct. 1 will receive 20 percent back in Breakers Bucks. Log on now to learn more so you don’t your chance to part of all the action next year at Soliders Field Soccer Stadium. Continue to see great deals like these by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Also check out the Breakers YouTube channel because although the Breakers don’t return home this season you can watch their final three games on the road.