Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Rookie No More

Last summer I decided to play and make soccer my game of choice. I wanted a new challenge. Soccer is a game where you are constantly moving and running on an average of 4-6 miles a game. I hate running long distance, so soccer is a team sport that allows me to get my running in without running in circles. Most of all soccer is a game I can play long into my life, and is not entirely a male dominated sport. I can play with all of my friends, both male and female, no matter their level of experience.

I'm not entirely new to the game. I played when I was little for AYSO (America Youth Soccer Organization), I played in middle school, I played a little in college as a fun recreational sport, and I played an entire summer in Boston, where I was doing an internship. So I'm not entirely new to the game. I have an understanding of it and how it is to be played, or so I thought.

I've been playing in a league for a year now. I will be ending my 4th season (we play a Fall, Spring, and Summer season ) next week. This is my first time play competitive soccer since I was in middle school. I have learned a lot and my game has had many improvements. I am just now starting to put into practice the lessons I am learning, and briefly I will show flashes of brilliance. I will say soccer is much harder game to play than I remember both physically and mentally. It has taken its toll on me.

I wanted to play forward, the position with the task of scoring goals. As long as I can remember I have played defensive positions. In American football I played defensive back in high school, in middle school I played goalie for soccer, in baseball I played catcher. I was pretty good at these positions and subscribed to the "Defense wins Championships" mentality. Sometimes though I wanted to be in the spotlight, so I told myself this was my chance. I set out watching videos of the offensive greats, and learning their moves so that I perform them as my own. I wanted to become the dominant scorer in the league. My first game with my team I scored. I was the first goal they had scored that year. Although it was a "right place at the right time" goal, I thought I had a bright future. I ended up scoring one more goal in the last game. That season I played 5 games and scored 2 goals. Not bad for someone who hasn't played since middle school, playing with men who played in high school and college.

I was moved to midfield in the spring season. I am fast, so the move helped to close the gap between our forwards and our midfield. I am also young which means, I can take much of the running that is required of the position. Wrong! Playing midfield has shown me how out of shape I am. Even now, I struggle to make it through the half not winded. I hate running so it doesn't help that I don't run during the week to help build up my wind.

Playing in the midfield has helped to improve my confidence with the ball. I get many more touches and have more control over the flow of the game. My touch, trapping and overall ball handling skills have improved quite a bit, but I still have much to learn. I am moving better, and when I'm not winded I am able to make overlapping runs while playing touch-in-go.

Overall I am playing at a much higher level than I was a year ago. I still need to work on getting in shape though. I am hoping to get into an indoor league this winter so I can continue playing and improving. Playing is the only way to get better. I am also going to try to start the Nike's Bootcamp as well as using Nike+ to get running and stay running. I have one more game which I look forward to giving it all I can, but when next year comes I will be ready...