“If I knew then what I know now”… This is what my college coach would tell me, which now has me saying the same thing to others. I really hope that all the students I train take from me, how important working hard and believing in themselves is. Time goes by fast and if you just put in a little extra work it adds up in a good way. I was too stubborn and ignorant in the real world of soccer opportunity. I went on to play pro soccer for 7 years, experiencing 17 Countries in that time. If I knew then what I know now, life off and on the pitch would have been different. I think everyone wishes they would have made better choices in life, but those choices I made help me to have passion to help others. So now I want to help you build your brand as an athlete.
Is your brand strong for college sports?
For you to improve as a person and player you need to understand your roles. If your goal is to one day play college or pro then you have to change your lifestyle. First thank your parents for allowing the opportunity for you to play the sport you love. Know that people are watching and your brand can weaken school or team you play for. If you come across in a negative way in person or on social media you could lose your money opportunities. The teams, schools & clubs you play for are affected when your brand appears to be negative or weak.
What other people think of your brand
The first thing you should know about protecting your brand is this. Your brand is not what you think it is, it’s what other people think of you. When they hear your name or think of you, what are they thinking? You want people to think of positive things, honesty, hard working & committed. Not words like selfish, rude, lazy. Your brand as an athlete depends on mostly how hard you work and how you respond during good and bad times. If you are looking to play college sports then the most important people to impress are the Universities and the coach. They have a brand to protect and want to make sure your brand is representing itself well. Think about all the news stories of athletes getting in trouble at Universities. You don’t really remember the players names, but you do remember the University. That negative attention becomes a big part of their brand for years and even decades. This is serious business and there are thousands of kids to choose from. What makes you stand out? You have a lot to do with how your brand looks to other people.
Protecting your personal brand after the game
Winning is such a joy for all of us. Whether it’s in sports or a board game or whatever, most people want to win. And the reason is because losing feels so bad! So balancing our emotions is the key in protecting your brand. Have you ever seen a player or parent who absolutely went overboard? I bet you have. There can be the player, coach or parent take it to another level and lower their brand stock. Your brand as an athlete all depends on your performance, as well as your choices. Learning how to control emotions while winning and losing are vital if you want to keep a strong brand.
Have good character playing sports
Many would say that to play sports it’ all about having fun and being a good sport. But being a good sport means really trying your best every practice and game. Playing by the rules and trying to improve yourself as a person every day. For some it’s learning to control emotions better when winning or losing. For others it could be trying to improve on work rate or focus. My daughters are young right now and play rec soccer and other sports, but I tell them they better work their hardest. It’s impossible to work your very hardest every single day, and we all could probably look back and wish we had tried harder at something. At the end of the day you have a choice to make. Here are some amazing character tips from a 14 year MLS veteran.
Do friends weaken your personal brand?
Hanging out with friends is fun and important, but make sure you are hanging out with people who protect you. I can’t tell you how many people have lost scholarships because they were caught at parties doing the wrong things. Nowadays anyone can see you at the wrong place at the wrong time. Imagine if you are a college coach with a spouse and children, and to keep your job you have to find players to help your team win. You probably would be checking up on your players on social media to make sure they are representing you and your team well. All it takes is one picture or video to ruin your future opportunity. You might be doing nothing wrong, but what if you end up in a picture next to people who are? Best thing you can do is do the right things and hang with with people who do the same. In the end you will make a great example to others around you, which will lift everyone’s potential and opportunity.
5 ways to protect your brand as an athlete
- Working hard day after day forever. Yes, there will be days you go harder than others but you have to make a choice that you work harder than the others. This become a part of your sports culture. When people think of you or hear your name you want them to think of hard working.
- Being positive is a choice and is definitely something you want people to think of when they hear your name.
- Respecting the coach, teammates and parents on both teams.
- Put yourself in places that are safe. All of our friends are different and we can’t change people, but you can change where and who you hang out with off school campus.
- If you have social media keep it positive, family like, supporting friends, team, school. Post about volunteer work you do or support. Post only good positive things. Protect your brand! Remember this is what other people think about you, not what you think.
Social media highlights your brand as an athlete
By far one thing you want to make sure is positive is your social media. This is the one thing anyone can find out about you, so make sure it’s positive. For your brand as an athlete to stay strong you need to keep things professional. The key to social media if you want to have a positive influence is be positive and don’t use it to vent your frustrations. If you don’t like social media don’t feel you have to use it, but at least think about getting a page up and post a few really positive things and leave it like that. Then when people search your name they see good things which help strengthen your personal brand. When people see positive or negative on your page, that is what they are going to tie you to. Remember your brand is not what you think it is, it’s what other people think. Social media sites give you the perfect platform to build your personal brand and help potential coaches or sponsors know that you are safe to work with.
Your choices leave a lasting impression
Think about some of the people you have met in your life. Go way back to when you were a kid and think about people who had a lasting impression on you both good or bad. What do you want people to think of when they think of you? Sometimes it only take one time to impress someone. That could be the one person or time that changes your life. Nobody wants to work with a complainer or person that doesn’t work hard. You have the choice to make on how you look in other people’s eyes. Having the want to improve is what keeps us doing so. Make your brand strong by consistently making good choices.
Must continue technical training on your own
Staying fit during off-season will help protect your brand as an athlete. Coaches love players who train on their own or with a trainer, because it shows the player wants to improve. Remember to protect your brand as an athlete you need to keep improving technically, so make sure you are not just getting in better shape. Make sure you are also improving technically with things like first touch, passing with both feet, dribbling and ball control are important elements of the soccer. I recommend you do your fitness with the ball.
If you want to keep your spot on the team and get to choose which teams you play for, then you better keep wanting to improve. Sure you can go out and train on your own and just go through the motions. Or you can have that want to improve. You have to know what your strengths and weaknesses are and work on both of them. Sharpen your strengths for sure, but also improve your weaknesses. If a coach says you need to improve your first touch, but then you go and practice more shooting then it won’t work out. Make sure you are wanting to improve the weaker areas in your game. For some it might be fitness/endurance and for others it might be improving passing accuracy. If your need is dribbling & controlling the ball with your feet and out of the air, then I know my online ball control course will improve your overall game. To me the element that everyone needs to improve is technique.