In my time playing soccer I have had a lot of coaches. I have had coaches who believed in every single step I took, and I've had coached coaches who didn't think I was good enough to see the pitch. Sometimes, these coaches were one in the same. Crazy huh? A coach has the ability to make or break a player. I know so many people will argue that the player has to be mentally tough enough to deal with anything a coach does or says, but let's face it, it's never that easy. Think about it in the sense of school work. If you study your ass off and get an F, it doesn't really matter what you think personally, because you failed on paper. Just like in practice if you're doing everything in your power and don't start over the weekend, it really doesn't matter what you think, you're on the bench.
It's during these times that players are tested the most in my opinion.
I can't tell you how many of my friends have come to me asking for advice about soccer. Rarely do they come to me when they are playing and things are going well though, which is natural. But one of the most common issues is that a player starts questioning their ability based on the decisions a coach is making. And don't get me wrong, I've been here a lot in my career. I know this feeling all too well and it's pretty amazing how difficult it is to take my own advice, but I try, no matter what, to always remember that I'm a good player and that I am deserving of a spot on the field regardless of what any coach thinks.
So, even now it's easy for me to type this because I have been playing for my current team. Ask me this question last year, and I might have had a different answer for you. Soccer is like that. There are ups and downs. I have been up and down a lot. The key for any player to succeed is to remember that a coach is just one person. That person might have an agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with you or maybe you don't fit the style the team plays, or simply put, they just don't like how you play. That doesn't mean every coach will think that and that doesn't mean you're a bad player - all it means is that ONE coach doesn't dig you. Trust me when I say it's not the end of the road, especially if you have the right attitude.
One thing I have always been really good at is believing in myself. I know my style of play doesn't fit the usual mold. I'm not the strongest or the fastest or even the hardest worker, but I like to play soccer like I think it should be played. I know I'm good at what I do, but at the same time I'm realistic with my expectations... I kind of always have been too. Of course there are times I have to remind myself or I have to call my mom to hear that I'm good at soccer, but those self-doubt periods don't usually last long. They can't or I would never have any confidence.
One of the many reasons I decided to leave Boston last season was because I started to doubt myself as a player. As soon as I felt that inch into my life, I knew I needed a change. I knew I was good and going to Sweden for three months reassured that.
I will never forget listening to a radio station that was lecturing the world of parents on three things you should never ever tell your children, and one of them was: "Don't ever tell them that they're the best." I was absolutely appalled. They said something about kids growing up feeling entitled because of this. My thoughts are different: I feel as though so many people will try to shut you down... so many people won't want you to succeed. Take every ounce of all the good people in your life and soak it up like wine on a carpet and don't ever let it go.
Don't let one person's opinion dictate who you want to be or where you want to go. Don't let two people's opinion do that. Honestly, the depths of a person are incredible and even the most "insecure" people are stronger beyond anything they could ever imagine.
All in all, be you. They will either love you or hate you... but either way, they will never make you.