All great athletes are determined. There’s simply no other way for them to reach that level of accomplishment. But in the world of 7 to 17 year old athletes, determination on the field (and in life) varies considerably, with a wide mix of innate drive and learned behavior. Kids first arrive on Breakers teams with various shades of determination for sure!
Some players are extremely determined, so long as the game is going their way. Should they suffer a few setbacks during a game they may start leaning back. Others are generally determined but then sort of relax once another player progresses past them – thinking it’s now the “next guy’s job” to try and stop the opponent. Others are, frankly, a bit timid in head-to-head, high pressure situations.
The point is, throughout the first few years of Breakers training, we believe it’s our responsibility to teach the players to be tenacious. That doesn’t mean throwing elbows, or necessarily playing “physical” soccer. It’s a mindset where Breakers players deliver a sustained, gritty effort every game. Yes, they may simply get outplayed by a better team. But I have yet to see a game where they give up. This becomes very apparent when they play highly-experienced and highly-skilled teams. It can be very disconcerting for them to play the Breakers. Breakers swarm, circle back after getting beaten, and never seem to tire. I’m sure it feels like they are 14 Breakers on the field at times.
After playing together for even just a few games, the kids’ start playing with a very different mindset. And as their soccer skills, and creative play are layered on top of that tenacity, they are able to accomplish much more than perhaps their natural athletic abilities would normally allow. As the players move on to high school and beyond, you can be sure the “Tenacious” box always gets checked at tryouts.
This is perhaps one of the best life lessons that carries over from soccer to school, their other sports and life in general.