Carli Lloyd and The Crossroads
Even the best have to face down doubt in their football career.
Looking back on the rise of USA attacking midfielder Carli Lloyd, the current FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, it is hard to believe that she came close to quitting the game she loved.
Her 16-minute hat-trick in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final 5-2 victory against Japan was unprecedented in World Cup history. Over 200 caps for the US Women’s National Team have been rewarded with two Olympic gold medals. She is the best player of her generation and at the age of 33 can look forward to the Rio Olympics and a 2019 FIFA World Cup swansong with confidence.
The Brick Wall
But 13 years ago she was ready to pull the pin on the sport she had loved since the age of 5.
Dropped from the US Women’s U-20 team she had to face the reality that no longer was she the best player in the team.
That realization was a major shock for Carli.
Unfortunately, throughout her career, she had suffered from coaches telling her that she was the best. The result on this overwhelming praise was that her work ethic and physical fitness was poor in comparison with the other top female players in the country.
No one had coached her to get better through her teenage years and now she had been caught out. Talent alone was not enough.
The same problem that Carli faced is not exclusive to the United States.
It is easy for coaches to default to a view that a player has talent and is destined for greatness. This approach is not good for the young player in question.
The focus must always be on improvement and learning.
Fortunately for Carli and the US Women’s National Team programme she was not lost to the sport.
Her parents requested the help of James Galanis who, at the time, was the coach of her brother’s team. Galanis changed the way that Carli approached the sport, turning her weaknesses into strengths.
She worked much harder to get fit, built her character, realised that she could break through the glass ceiling to be the best in the world and, most importantly in her view, developed mental strength.
This mental strength was vital when she missed the crucial penalty shoot-out attempt against Japan in the 2011 FIFA World Cup Final. However, her performances over the last four years have demonstrated her great resilience.
Carli Lloyd did not believe that she could be the best in the world when she was 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years old. Galanis was able to change her mindset to believe anything was possible with dedication and commitment.
Carli Lloyd is great example of what can be achieved when an individual has support, a plan and confidence.
Her self view is that of an underdog despite being recognised as the best player in the world. She is still hungry to be the best and lives by the mantra of working hard when no-one is watching.
There is no doubt that Carli Lloyd still has tough days given the relentless routine of top-level training – she will sometimes struggle for optimum performance despite being the world’s elite female footballer. But her desire and competitive spirit has helped her keep a laser like focus on being a champion that remains true to this day.
Her view is that “it all comes down to working hard.”
This ethic is something that all Top Flight Football Academy athletes can develop.
Regardless of what happens in football, hard work leads to success in life.
This is the lesson that we can all learn from Carli Lloyd making the right decision when she stood at those footballing crossroads 13 years ago.
Without hard work she would have been a one-time college player. With hard work and mental toughness she is now one of the all time great women’s footballers.
Finding Mastery: Conversations with Michael Gervais podcast (Carli Lloyd)
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