Water Seeks It's Own Level

It's March and here in west central Ohio that means the start of the club soccer season. For me personally, it means fielding many a question about the process of playing club soccer.  Answers to many of these questions can be found on our FAQ about Tryouts page.

One phenomenon addressed on that page is selecting the correct club. It's not always about playing for the most prestigious club.  In some cases there are simply too few geographically reasonable choices and the player / family play wherever they can or for whomever will have them.

When choices are available I have found more often than not that water seeks its own level.  Just as water is want to find the lowest point it can go it is also true people enjoy being comfortable and can be reluctant to change or step outside an established comfort zone.

The truly great players in any sport are those who embrace failure and seek out change to overcome . said failure. They are never satisfied and are continually looking to expand and grow both their knowledge of the game and the skills required to play the game at an ever evolving peak level. Whereas most players revert to a previous comfort zone when adversity is encountered, the above average players recognize opportunity in challenges to their established comfort zone.

The middling players are content to be the big frog in their own little pond. The great players seek to thrive in the largest of oceans.  I see this more often than one might wish to believe. Young players afraid of challenge and change because they have been successful thus far.  Afraid to relinquish good for the possibility of great.  And so, they "dominate" lower level play, but falter when challenged to up their game against better competition.

In short, they play well against weaker competition, win some and lose some against equal competition and have their heads handed to them by better competition.   In their eyes, this is acceptable.  Their water has found a level of mediocrity that the are content with.  The idea that a single drop of water might, just might, evaporate and come down again as rain in a new place is foreign to them.  The heat of higher standards and the winds of change are resisted so that a current, or heaven's forbid, a past comfort zone can be maintained or revisited.

Water seeks its own level can also be interpreted to mean individuals seek those of similar comfort zones to be associated with.  As a coach, this is one of the most important lessons I have learned  - to surround myself with the very best people I can find. I want assistant coaches who see things differently than I do and who bring different strengths to the program than I do.  I am not fearful of being challenged by someone with different ideas, by someone who knows more about something than I do. These are the exact people I want to surround myself with.

Too often in my coaching career I have seen players "settle" or revert back to a past comfort zone.  I would like to believe I can help them learn to play the game at the end of their comfort zones, but that is not always the case. Family, peers, recreational or high school coaches can all have agendas that hold players down to the low settling point that water seeks out. It takes a strong player to allow himself to "evaporate" from the comfort of being a big fish in a little pond for the opportunity of playing with the bigger and better boys found in the lake, the seas or the oceans.

Anyone can play soccer.  There are recreational leagues for all ages. There are club teams of all sorts ranging from barely recreational to levels sponsored by state USSF organizations to MRL and US Club or Academy leagues. On the high school side a player can often choose to attend a school that plays in a low lever small school conference to a mid-range medium sized school all the way to playing at a big school against the very best competition around.  The path after club and high school soccer is just as varied. Almost anyone can play soccer in college as long as you don't mind paying for the privilege of doing so. College soccer can be a gateway to a developmental league contract and eventually the MLS or other professional league. The top tier for many aspiring players is to represent their national team in a World Cup and there are those who have followed both the club path and the collegiate path in successful pursuit of this level.

Once again, water seeks its own level and so too do players. Those players not content with their current status and unafraid to test themselves against better competition seek out their own personal canal system by which they can raise the water level to move on from where they are towards larger failures and larger successes in bigger pools of water.

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