Monday, February 11, 2008

For the Love of Soccer...

A recent stop over at The Life of a Skinny Runner got me thinking about my soccer "career" and what it could have been. Let me paint you a little picture...

I loved soccer. I mean it. I loved it like you love your first dog or your first "real" girlfriend. I LOVED it. I played all year round from the time I was 5 years old all the way through high school (and a couple years in college until the drinking got in the way). I would go on "runs" where I ran for like 40-50 minutes straight on roads with a ball at my feet. I would juggle a ball for hours on end. I would do everything in my power to be the best darn soccer player out there. Actually, scratch that, it wasn't even about being good. I just loved to do it and it naturally made me better.

But, all that said, I never grasped the amount of fitness it took to become a better soccer player. To make matters worse... I tried on several occasions to get into "good shape" in the offseason and failed miserably. Why you might ask? Well, I thought I was just not a good runner. I thought it wasn't in the cards for me. So... I focused on the skill part of the game and got whatever fitness you get from being an active person. That was not enough.

In the end, I became a very skillful soccer player who couldn't run for very long (wah wah). That really sucks. I pin it on my coaches and my own inability to seek the right knowledge. I think that my coach in high school thought I was lazy (quite the contrary). I know it sounds stupid. But, I really didn't know what it took to get into shape.

Fast forward to today... I still love soccer. I have played outdoor over the summer once in the last 5 years and indoor a couple sessions over the winter. I'm really considering playing outdoor this summer. I'm kinda afraid though. Now that I've spent so much time getting into better shape, it's almost like the pieces are all coming together. Now, I don't think I'm going to be the best player on the field or anything. But, I do think it will be kinda bitter sweet. Over 10 years after I graduated from high school, I've finally figured out the running part. Now, I haven't had a ball at my feet enough to do anything with it.

In the end... there is only one way to find out what it will be like. I can't wait until summer league. Definitely something to look forward to. I'm gonna have to find some pickup games somewhere in the mean time though. I'm sure my touch is terribly rusty.

4 comments:

runningtwig said...

Nice post...I can relate to the love part of the game bigtime - I was always outside with the ball at my feet. But I was fortunate to play for a club that had a fitness coach...I don't miss playing as much as I used to. I coach and it allows me to give back to the sport that gave me a lot.

Drew said...

Eric,

Great post. I'm runningtwig's husband, Drew. I didn't have a fitness coach and tell my players all the time that club soccer has come a long way since when you and I played. It's at the older ages of club when the fitness and mental aspect of the game becomes so vital. Some of my '92 girls are buying into that and doing extra fitness on their own. Good luck!

cymrusteve said...

Great post! I love soccer too, but not as much as you obviously did/do.

Haven't played for years, but still get itchy feet now and again.

--Steve

Eric Gervase said...

Drew... That's awesome. I wish I had a coach that made me aware of the fitness part of things (as you can tell). I finally got to a point in my career in college where it didn't matter how skillful I was... I need to improve my fitness. And, at that point, I didn't have the motivation or understanding too. Good luck with the '92 girls. That's a good age.

Steve... You're catching me on a day where I was really "laying it on". I definitely loved soccer more than I do today. I forget sometimes though. Then, I get the opportunity to play and realize how much I used to love it. This time, runningtwig's profile got me going. Usually I play a pickup game that winds me up. I am definitely gonna start playing again.