SoccerLifeBalance

Hard Work Pushing Young Bull Forward – Brian White (New York Red Bulls)

bwhiteBrian White was the first draft pick taken by the New York Red Bulls in the 2018 MLS Draft.  In this conversation we talk about some of the things that set him apart as an athlete and the transition to life as a professional athlete.

SoccerLifeBalance

Sweet Feet to Educated Coaches – Brad Nein (Coach, Blogger, Doctor?)

bradneinphotoThis episode I got the chance to talk to Brad Nein, Coach and Blogger who works with kids and coaches in order to make a better experience of soccer.  We discuss his beginnings, his dissertation and many other topics.  To find out more about Brad and what he does, go to http://www.educatedcoaches.com or http://www.sweetfeetsoccer.org.

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Torn Apart by Your Cellphone

drawn and quarteredAs recently as 1781, the practice of dismemberment was used.  In the particular case I am referring, Tupac Amaru II (Incan King) was tied to four horses who were faced away from the victim and urged to run toward the four corners of the square.  It was a brutal and painful way to die.  Usually it was used as a way to “send a message” to other’s that would oppose the powers of the day.  In the end, these forms of execution were abandoned by civilized society.  I can’t even begin to imagine the immense pain felt by the victim and the horror of those who were watching.

Although the comparison may seem extreme, I believe that there is a correlation between this form of execution and the epidemic of cellphone addiction.  The execution is not a physical one but a mental/emotional one.  The death of the individual as well is not physical but experiential.  This is not a sermon on how cellphones are evil and should not be used.  These devices can be used as tools to accentuate life in meaningful ways.  However this is meant as a call for recognition if you are being “torn apart” by your device.  Know thy self is still as relevant today as it was when the Greeks etched it into stone.

Recognizing that your phone has taken your hand might be the easiest to identify.  Is your phone in your hand more than any other object?  It might be tearing you apart.  Does your phone have your legs?  Do you only move when reminded by a buzz, ding or bell?  It might be tearing you apart.    Then look to more important parts of the body.  Does your phone have your lungs?  Are the only times that you have your breath taken away produced through your phone?  It might be tearing you apart.  Does your phone have your mind?  Is your mind on the things that are contained in your phone more than the things that are in front of you?  It might be tearing you apart.  Does your phone have your heart?  Are the only times where you feel a rush positive or negative feeling happening through your phone?  It might be tearing you apart.  Do you have a life without your phone?  Could you exist, survive and thrive without it?  For a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a year?  It might be tearing you apart.

If you’ve become unsettled by the number of times that you felt uncomfortable with the questions above, don’t worry!  The first step to recovery is usually admitting that you have a problem.  Perhaps it’s a small problem or you want to look at it that way.  The key is to take control and let go from time to time.  You’ll see that you actually don’t miss that much that is happening on your phone when you detach from it.  You just catch a little more of the life that’s going on around you!

 

Have a great day people!

Pete

 

SoccerLifeBalance

It’s Chess, Not Kickball!

US26_LogoIt’s far off in the future but it will be here in a developmental instant.  Although the World Cup of 2026 is almost a decade away, the present is the only place where we can impact the future.  Recognizing that Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams may be the “veterans” of that team gives the extremely realistic picture that while our future could be bright, it is in our best interest to make it brighter.  The loftier heights of the sport world are not reached by the individual but rather by a cultural movement that serves as a base to raise the many.  So the US soccer needs to realize that it’s chess, not kick ball.

The reason is that our soccer culture has gotten extremely effective at creating only pawns.  Christian Pulisic is an anomaly as an American player because of his versatility and vision.  Generally speaking the youth systems of the country are extremely effective at creating players who can make the next pass and not much else.  A slightly dumbed down version of the beautiful game where creativity is superseded by practicality.  Although pawns are necessary in the game of chess, they are unable to win the game on their own.  The major pieces, like rooks and queens, give the best possibility for victory because they are dynamic and possibly game changing.  Opponents must fear them because they are unpredictable.  They are in the right spots because they think five moves ahead from where the play is right now.  And that’s what we all need to do with the game.

The recognition that right now is not the goal.  The goal looms in front of us in the distance but we can’t reach it playing kick ball.  We need to be playing chess, developing rooks, queens, bishops and even knights.  Seeing a path that leads to eventual checkmate will only come if we are developing enough quality pieces, not pawns for our small game.

Check yourself.

Pete

SoccerLifeBalance

Soccer Vision in a Football Town – Evan Weller (Head Coach Phillipsburg High School)

Evan WellerHead Coach, Evan Weller, has been building the soccer program at Phillipsburg High School for the past 16 years.  This conversation highlights some of the components to their success and thoughts beyond the lines of the field.

 

SoccerLifeBalance

SLB Podcast: Why Are We Doing This?

In this brief solo talk, I discuss some of the things that I believe are being missed in our current soccer culture.  Even they may be the most pressing and most apparent, they seem to be the most overlooked.  Send in your thoughts and questions to pete@hurykunlimited.com today.

SoccerLifeBalance

What I Do…. Is NOT Care

emily 60608 010Often  the most important things are hiding in plain sight.  We cannot see them because we’re so busy looking at things that we’ve been told are important or think that we value.  A deeper inspection usually reveals that we’ve overlooked the most crucial things in the name of the most frivolous.  It’s not particularly our fault as our brains were hardwired to concentrate on the urgent and short term because the long term was not guaranteed.  Also there are some things that we look past completely because of the fact that they are so pervasive.  One of my favorite questions to ask during presentations is “what is the most important thing that you’re going to do today?”  I get a  variety of answers depending on the crowd but the answer should be the same for everyone: breathe!  The answer is so obvious and yet almost everyone misses it because it’s overlooked.  My work at the moment is at a tenuous place where I am trying to balance that which I know is most important and what people actually see.  So for now I am going to continue to do what I believe is right… NOT CARE!

I’ve decided to intertwine two of my greatest passions into one because in my eyes they fit so perfectly together.  The most popular sport in the world (soccer) and the most important skill for doing anything in life (self-belief) are the twin targets that I’ve set my sights on.  The reason being that it is important to leverage people’s behavior and soccer has motivated millions of people to shell out big money to have someone teach their child how to kick a ball more effectively.  The reverse of that situation is that self-belief is extremely low in our younger generation because they have largely been robbed of the experience of self-discovery.  Their activities have been planned for them since birth.  Failure has been removed from their lives in order to protect them.  And they have largely been taught that they are not as good as the people that they see on the screen of the super computer in their pocket.  So what am I going to do about it… NOT CARE!

  • I’m not going to care about how many goals you score this season but rather the number of times that you keep working in a tough session.
  • I’m not going to care about the number of followers you have on Instagram but rather your ability to lead one person (you).
  • I’m not going to care that you didn’t get a starting position on the team but rather the ways that you control those types of outcomes in your life through your choices.
  • I’m not going to care about your desire to get recruited by the college of your choice but rather recruit the resources within you to make you an irresistible candidate.

At this point, you probably get the picture.  I’m more concerned with the root than the fruit because I know that they’re so completely dependent upon one another.  Focusing on the process at the most basic level may not produce the exact result that you’re looking for.  It will however produce a person that is worth believing in and that’s what I care about!

Pete

SoccerLifeBalance

Creating Culture and Taking Responsibility – Anson Smith (Head Coach Hunterdon Central)

AnsonThis episode I got the chance to talk to Anson Smith, Head Coach of Hunterdon Central High School.  We delve into a variety of topics including team culture, Development Academies, personal responsibility, and a host of other topics.  You can find his company and contact him directly at http://www.soccersmith.org.

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Don’t Lose Your Virginity

LetstalkaboutsexLanguages are amazing to me on so many levels. Words and phrases can evoke emotions of all kinds and intensities. They can be both the weapons to hurt and the bandages to heal. Certain languages carry with them differing perspectives that color the way that we go through life. Despite this fact, we seem to be less inclined to use the magic that resides within language. The flourish of Shakespeare has been replaced by the convenience of the text message. While I don’t believe that we need to embellish the daily and mundane with flowery language, it may be helpful to say something more meaningful. Or say the things that have a meaning that will propel us toward a better future rather than maintain our status quo.
Along those lines, I’d like to suggest that no one “lose” their virginity. Depending on your particular background the phrase probably means one of a variety of things.  If you’ve been raised in some religious background, there may be twinges of guilt or sin involved with this idea.  If that is not an issue, the word “lose” can even create a feeling.  Loss is generally seen as a negative and therefore it evokes feelings of that kind.  Either because it was something that was supposed to be held onto until it was lost.  Or because it was something that was undesired in the first place.  In that case the losing is not the negative but rather the having has the negative connotation.  With all of this convoluted word talk, it should be evident that the phrase does not actually serve the action well.

Rather than “losing their virginity”, people should be “earning their sexuality”.  In the long past, the idea of losing virginity probably worked because of the pervasive religious beliefs about marriage and sin.  In a modern context the phrase no longer serves.  In fact it probably harms, more than it helps.  So rather than an instantaneous change from virgin to not, why not embrace the idea that this is a process.  Sex has been sold, contorted and embellished in so many ways that it’s perception barely resembles what it is.  Perpetuating this will only lead to disaster for young people.  So why not, “earn sexuality”?

The reason for “earn” is that it should not be viewed as a right.  Also the process of earning something does not usually happen in an instant.  Therefore it requires a more involved set of steps.  In my opinion, the initial steps should be small, subtle and unrushed.  At all times, it should be the individual and not the force of society that decides on the most comfortable pace to progress.  Again the reason for the use of the word “earn” is extremely deliberate because it suggests a transaction of other actions to eventually received the privilege of the next step.  Perhaps these actions will come from self-reflection or partner discussion.  Regardless it puts the idea of process to the forefront rather than bravado or shame.  So whether you’ve lost it already or not, perhaps consider the idea of changing the language around first sexual encounters.  Maybe the shift in wording will change the way that we think and that might be enough.

SoccerLifeBalance

Keeping Up With the Soccer Joneses

Family family tiesTies was one of my favorite sitcoms from the 1980’s.  It wasn’t the funniest show in the world but I related with it.  Parents who cared but were a little weird and eccentric.  The kids had some problems but nothing overly earth-shattering.  Despite any issues that arose, there was a general sense that the family cared for one another and wanted the best for each other.  The morals to the episodes were pretty straight forward and dealt with things that I was about to go through as a kid.  Although there were major differences between myself and the character, I always identified with Alex P.  Keaton.

His character was focused intently on money, success and economics.  Those topics never really hit my radar.  However intertwined within his “young republican” ideals was a character that had struggles and found a balance for his aspirations and human relations.  His desire for success got pushed to the side at times when more pressing matters were at hand.  Now I recognize that the show is fake and the character does not really exist but it paints a picture.  Alex P. Keaton was a “keep up with Joneses” kind of guy.  Success was written into his character but so was a human element.  I’ve not asked Michael J. Fox for an interpretation on the following but I feel confident in my assertion.

Most of us need to focus more on the soccer Keatons and let the soccer Joneses go!  Believe me!  I want the USMNT to win a World Cup.  It’s a dream that I would love to see come to fruition.  BUT my desire for that success cannot override my desire for a fruitful sports culture for a majority of our young players.  Academies SHOULD exist.  Trainers SHOULD be training young soccer players.  However the idea that all players and parents should be aspiring to that level is lunacy.  The soccer culture over the past few years has tilted heavily toward the professionalism of the youth game.  As I said above, these things are important for the improvement the sport at a certain level.  The pervasiveness of the shift is the concern.  There seems to be a cultural ratchet that should exist for some but not others.  The top level players need that cultural ratchet to improve the national team player pool.  The general youth player does not.

  • They need their parents to cheer for them embarrassingly no matter how mediocre they are.
  • They need to have economic burden of youth sports taken off of their parents, thus inflated expectations taken off of them.
  • They need their instruction in the sport to come from a caring adult who is invested in them as a person rather than an outsourced “expert”.
  • They need to be a kid first.

Perhaps this is nothing more than a bit of nostalgia for a simpler soccer time.  Or maybe we should truly be worried.  Worried that a sport whose name in this country is even derived from its community roots but seems to be more focused on individualism and exceptionalism.  If our hearts and minds are truly for sale, we should look to get more than a few years with the label of “Elite”.  Those years are not coming back.  When they are gone, will you revel in how close you were to the top level?  Or how close you are with the people who matter to you in your family/community?  Perhaps you can have the former without sacrificing the latter but is that a gamble that so many should be making?

What would we do (baby) without us?

Pete