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Psychological Qualities

Up to this point we have talked about qualities from the Technical, Tactical, and Physical components of soccer, now it is time to address the Psychological component. For me there is only one quality essential for the player to becoming a successful US Youth Soccer ODP player, and that quality is attitude.

Attitude - There is much written material covering the phrase "Attitude is everything." Trevor Moawad, the Director of the International Performance Institute at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida used to emphasize this on a consistent basis when speaking to all of the athletes enrolled in the IMG Academies and the US Soccer U17 Residency Program. As a soccer player, almost every decision that you encounter during a match, other than pure technical execution, involve the player's attitude.

Evaluating the Player's Attitude:

  • - Does the player understand the importance of following the game plan for the match?
  • - Can the player make choices that are good for the wellbeing of the team-tracking players, runs without the ball, etc.?
  • - Can the player the exhibit the proper sportsmanship regardless of the final outcome of the match?
  • - Does the player have the proper attitude regarding training sessions; does the player have the proper attitude regarding training habits - regeneration after matches, nutrition, care and prevention of injuries, etc.?
  • - Can the player take criticism and praise from coaches, teammates, and spectators?
  • - Does the player understand the importance of self-analysis and possess the desire to improve one's performance?
  • - Can they turn a weakness in their game into a strength?
  • - Can the player enjoy the sport of soccer, both as a participant and spectator?
  • - Does the player possess the attitude to accept leadership responsibilities when needed and to follow another teammates leadership when necessary?

You can talk about mental toughness, drive, passion, motivation, desire, dedication, etc., but each trait is determined ultimately by one's attitude. ODP covers a wide variety of age groups, so you can imagine the wide range of player attitudes that are exhibited at the State Association and Regional levels of play. Most USYS ODP staff coaches will agree that players exhibiting proper attitudes are already half way there in becoming successful US Youth Soccer ODP players.