1. an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
2. a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.
I have been coaching soccer for three years and playing for about 20, and the single most critical factor that I can attribute to success is a mental, physical, emotional and philosophical trait. It is something that we do our entire lives – though we usually do not realize it. It is crucial to our survival, our well-being, and our success. It is measured in various ways, and it some respects it is not measurable – although it still determines our successes and failures. We do it with our feet, hands, eyes, skin and muscles, even our ears (for real, balance is partially maintained by fluids in our inner ear, look it up!). We do it with our checkbooks and our picture frames, with our work lives and home lives. We do it with fun and with seriousness. Our machines and tools use it and require it. When it is out order, things go wrong. It is the foundation of our being as well as the continuation of our being. Once we become aware of it, we master it and we cannot stop doing it. By the way, it also plays a vitally important role in being a successful soccer player and team.
- Lose your balance – lose your dribble.
- Lose your balance – make a poor pass.
- Lose your balance – miss the target.
Balance extends beyond the scope of just the individual. Barcelona is widely successful because of their ability as a squad to maintain equilibrium. Remember high school science class when you learned about homeostasis? Molecules move from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration until the molecules are balanced throughout. Sound like the Spanish Club at all? Their ability to balance the field creates optimal space and time for each pass and movement. The philosophy of play is balanced – if they spend the whole game passing they would never score a goal, but if they spent all game launching off shots they probably would not get many GREAT opportunities.
Players must also balance their emotions. Lose your cool after getting hit from behind and you will find yourself balancing your behind on the bench. Composure is a equilibrium of intensity and concentration. When a player’s heart rate increases too great, fight or flight kicks in and a person loses their ability to stream consciousness – which might just result in missing the opportunity to thread a through ball en route to the net.
Balance is in training. Sprint for 45 minutes? No way. Walk and stand for and hour? Whats the point? If we spend the whole time training with the ball how can we learn to move to space to receive a pass? If we spend the whole time conditioning we will never learn to make that pass properly. When players are not enjoying the game it infringes on their ability to learn – they become disinterested and they lose their concentration and effort.
It is our responsibility as players, coaches and parents to balance our expectations on and off the pitch. Sport is meant to be competitive and fun. Ideally, somewhere right in the middle…
Balance is everywhere in the game of soccer, and it can teach us many things in life as well. Take some time out of your next CoachUp training session to become aware – and balance.