What Makes a Good Leader in Soccer?
The pressure athletes feel to win games is burdensome but the pressure to lead can be overwhelming.
The pressure to lead is the reason why being the captain of a team is very difficult for some players.
Some captains feel they need to continually earn their title causing them to be very vocal, demanding or desire to take over a game instead of trusting teammates.
This type of leadership can very divisive.
You don’t have to be a captain to be a leader. “Captain” is a title; leading is an action.
Leadership is something that the US Men’s National Soccer Team is in dire need of as the squad is seeking to rebuild.
Christian Pulisic is only 20 years old but has had some valuable experience on the international stage.
Pulisic is seen as a player who can lead the team back to the World Cup, a role Pulisic relishes.
PULISIC: “All I can do is give my best, be a part of this team, be there for the young guys. I mean I’m young too, but just be there for them and help this team to grow and help these guys out.”
You can hear the conflict in Pulisic’s tone.
On one hand, Pulisic wants to help the younger players on team perform at a high level… But on the other hand, Pulisic recognizes he is also young and needs to develop his game further and focus on his job on the field.
Is it possible to lead and play at the same time?
Actually, leading and playing simultaneously is easier than you think. You lead best by example.
Leading by example encompasses the manner in which you train and practice, your preparation for games, your focus on your play and your response and reaction to different challenges on the field.
You cannot change your teammates’ behavior but you can positively influence them by your actions.
Being an effective leader also means not listening to outside noise.
PULISIC: “I am focused on what I need to do most of the year; that means being focused on [playing overseas] so when I come to [USMNT] camp I do the same things, focus myself here so it is not difficult for me to not really worry about the outside noise… [It’s a matter of] knowing what your job is and who you should be listening to and how you can get better.”
The truth is that every player, captain or not, can be an effective leader on their team.
The key is to lead through your actions, focus and dedication to your game!
How to Be an Effective Leader on Your Soccer Team
The first question of an effective leader should not be, “How can I make my teammates better?”
Instead, ask, “How can I be a better example to my teammates?”
Find two ways you can set an example for preparation, to improve your skills, or be focused during practice.
By showing your teammates how to be dedicated and improve your game, you’ll set the example for others.
Your actions on the field will ALWAYS be louder than the words you speak!
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