Great article in the New York Times about Charlie Davies: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/sports/soccer/27davies.html?pagewanted=2&hp
Davies, one of the US National Teams rising stars, was in a horrific car accident in October that left him severely injured and unlikely to play soccer again.
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6 months later, Davies has made an incredible recovery. He resumed full contact drills with his French Club this week, and now awaits word on his spot on the final World Cup roster.
What can this teach us about the mental game? College soccer coaches always tell me they want a player that accepts responsibility for what the player can control and is persistent to their goals. Davies story gives us a lot to think about on both levels.
Davies mentions the World Cup as the beacon of light to drive towards. That's all well and good, but the real success here comes from setting goals over short periods of time that help him drive towards the ultimate goal. Anyone can start their season by saying "I want to win a championship". Of Course You Do! Who Doesn't!? It's a great thing to drive toward, but does it give you a plan of action or a path to follow? NO!
Davies speaks about breaking off small chunks, two week periods with manageable goals to bite off. It's a great thing for the young athlete to begin practicing. Set small, concrete goals and monitor your progress towards them. Make it a habit. You'll find you progress a lot more than you think over a season. Who knows. With a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck, you may just win that championship!