Reflecting on my younger days, there were a few memories that were relatively consistent. In particular, I remember having a ball with me. This usually consisted of a basketball or soccer ball, but eventually soccer won out...and then finally a mini soccer ball. I'm sure I share this trait with many K-8th graders, but it continued into high-school, college, and I guess even now to some extent. (Mostly to keep my kids entertained)
If I dove into the existential reason I had a ball by my side, it was probably some sort of deep rooted social insecurity, but if I stay light about it...I think it allowed me to PLAY wherever I went. I remember flying to tournaments with my club or college teams, and for some reason I was one of the only people that brought a ball? We'd try to meg people in the airport, late night juggling sessions in the hotel lobby, and always some sort of game in the room.
Now being involved in the game most of my life, I get asked what a player can do to get better. My answer seems to always be the same...play on your own. All I see now is coaches and parents placing a structured environment around players, in hopes that it's the thing that takes them to the next level."Premier" clubs, more travel, higher costs, "better" coaching, new uniforms, new facilities...the more we give them, the better they'll get...right?? In my opinion, the one common trait that great players share, is their love for the game. It's difficult for a young player to develop that love while a coach is talking, a parent is screaming on the sidelines, or you only get 15 min to PLAY, without a coach stopping you. I now recognize that my love was developed with the ball I carried with me and the hours of games I'd play with my friends & teammates.