The Mental Journey in 2019

by Panchito Ojeda

The 2019 Season is here and I wanted to share a few things with you as you embark on the journey.  These nuggets are intended to help you guide yourself mentally through the challenges of the 2019 season.

Winning Is Hard
You ever realize how hard it is to win once?  Consistently?  Winning is incredible hard.  To sustain winning is even more difficult.  What I don't think a lot of young players see if what it takes to win.  Let me take a quick step back.

Winning isn't everything, but it is absolutely critical that you COMPETE TO WIN at EVERYTHING.  As you enter this season you ought to care about winning.  You ought to care about your teammates caring about winning.  Not everyone loses the same way, but all players must be set on the same course of working to win, even if ultimately you compete your butts off and don't.

So, yeah winning is hard.  When we watch TV we see Coach Tierney screaming at his players or these amazing goals.  We hear analysts talk about athleticism or culture.  These are all true things, but what we don't see is Justin Guterding up at 6am everyday to get 100 shots in before class and then 100 after practice.  We don't see Coach Tierney consoling his players in his office or all the things his does to make his players love him because the yelling isn't why.  We don't see what makes those men winners.  

As you enter this season know that the 2 hours you spend at practice isn't going to win you many games.  It will give you massive knowledge, it will create great chemistry with your teammates, and it is vital to winning.  However, in it of itself it is NOT enough.  You must put time in on your own.  Winners thirst for competition and they know they must always be improving to be the best when those opportunities arise.

Attitude Is Everything
I speak to High School players often and when they call me I cringe everytime I hear "My HS Coach was an idiot" or "I didn't get much coaching in HS."  It isn't that there isn't truth to their statements, there can be.  Every coach and every player don't connect and every coach isn't a good coach.  We all have our moments.  What I cringe about is my question (which I don't ask) "When did you check out and stop listening?"

Your coach is your coach and your teammates are your teammates.  This is set.  There is no changing that in this 2019 season.  You can choose to work with what you have with a positive attitude and a all-in mentality of you can start the process of losing with complaining.  When we complain we are merely setting ourselves up for an excuse when we lose.  No complaining.  You don't like something your coach is doing, pick up the phone, call him and set up a meeting to speak.  Don't like what a teammate is doing, approach him outside of practice and work to get on the same page.  Involve the coach if you must but try to work it out on your own.

YOU AND ONLY YOU control how you respond to situations.  If everyone on the team gets on the bus together you may not win every game but you will end the season having COMPETED like champions and a heck of a lot better than you were when it started.  Be the change you want to see in yourself and your team.

Gosh, I can't say this enough.  Compete at everything.  Make everything about winning and losing.  If the drill is about shooting accuracy compete with a teammate for who can hit the most pipes.  Losers do a single (1 push-up).  If it is GB's same thing.  Just compete.  As a young man or woman you will never get the chance to compete like this when you are an adult.  It stinks.  I long for the days where my friends and I were yelling at each other over a goal on some random Tuesday in July.  We were fierce competitors and sometimes it didn't end well, but some of my best memories are from those days and I wouldn't trade them for the world. 

Take advantage of these opportunities and COMPETE with full effort every single time you step in the rectangle.

Trust The Process
Lastly, trust the process. You will fail many times throughout the season.  Those failures will equate to success later if you trust the process.  If you don't they will begin to create the chinks in the armor which will be the downfall of your season. 

Have Fun!
When we first started playing it was because this game was fun.  It is still fun, but the grind of a season can be daunting.  Don't forget to fall in love with a wall, with playing catch, with the field, your teammates.  Keep it fun.  There are times for focus, but in those moments, having fun, playing with passion are definitely what separates the good from the great.  Smile, you love this game.

Good luck in 2019!