I’ve learned that balance in life is really important. The better you balance out your schedule – school work, relationships, friendships, and athletics – the more you can do.
In one week I would have a full outdoor game on Sunday, early morning class on Monday that lasts all day and then training again at night.
Every day I would have class plus training at night plus futsal on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-12 pm. And then between those trainings I also train at the gym working on flexibility, mobility, frequency and stability at least once a week depending on the rest of my schedule.
The real reason why I started going to the gym was because I had gained weight in my first year in Croatia and had become much slower than I used to be, and then when I realized how much it was affecting my game I took initiative to change it and get better.
At this time I was struggling with the position I was playing on the field as well. I played in Miami as a defending center mid for 7 years and then got switched to defense for the National team playing center back.
Although both positions are in the middle I did not have the experience to play center back at the international level and then I got put there on my club team as well. But because of my speed (or lack of speed) I didn’t really like the short sprints chasing down strikers as opposed to constant running in the middle which is what my endurance level was used to. So I adopted a trainer to help me with all of that. Not to mention my newly discovered limb length discrepancy of 5 millimeters, meaning that my right leg is 5 mm shorter than my left leg and the unsolved mystery of my funny running is finally solved.
I went to the doctor for insoles and he took one look at the way that I walked and said “yep, you might as well never wear sandals again because you’re going to need insoles in your shoes for the rest of your life”
All in all, when you start developing as a better person and player, it’s all worth it though. Because now that I have fixed some of my coordination problems with insoles and exercise, and I have increased my running technique and speed, and I have even taken it upon myself to strengthen my left footed game as well, it has all made me a better player and it helped me grow.
There is still a long path ahead and much more to learn as well but for now I have become a useful player because of the experience in multiple positions (right back, left back, center back, center mid) and although I have nostalgic yearning for defending center mid which I play the least of, I have plans to get better at that too by keeping everything balanced on this path of adjusted improvement.