Learning Discipline and Time Management Through Sports
Danny Jackson on Learning Discipline and Time Management Through Sports
How Soccer Can Help Players Maximize Their Potential — On and Off the Field
Daniel (Danny) Jackson is a former Major League Soccer (MLS) star and captain of the Seattle Sounders. SN is pleased to bring readers Danny Jackson's new column with insights into the professional world of soccer. So many kids dream of go pro, few accomplish this and fewer become team captains and then go on to become youth coaches.
For anyone who loves the game of soccer, it’s all about maximizing your time on the field. But as we know, sometimes life gets in the way of our best-laid plans. As a lifelong soccer player and coach, I’ve learned that time management and discipline are imperative in budgeting your valuable time. Playing any sport requires a huge time commitment, from practice and game preparation, to travel to and from events, to actual time on the field. Add in your other responsibilities and it is obvious that you will face numerous challenges as you try to manage your life. Working hard to manage your time effectively will allow you to get on the field and play the game.
But if you don’t know how to balance the myriad of things going on in your life, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed. So for me, there are four key priorities:
For me, family always comes first, no matter what. Important family events and general family time are so crucial. But remember, when you make a commitment to other things like education and sports, you need to make sure that the pieces of your life work together. Don’t let your teammates down by skipping practice to stay at home and play video games with your brother.
Parents also need to juggle their children’s commitments, as well as their own desire for family vacations. You need to know what is in store for you when it comes to sports, and try your best to organize longer vacations at a time when everyone is available.
Sports should never come in the way of school. Education is imperative, and provides the foundation on which to build your life. Work hard and do the best you can do, and you will be rewarded with deserving grades and a great opportunity to go to college. And in addition to the education you will receive, the discipline you learn in the classroom will help you on the sports field.
Soccer is a commitment that you make to yourself, your family, and your teammates. Sports give kids their first taste of responsibility. When you play on a team, you have a schedule you must follow. Practice times, game times, and arrival times are often structured, and you must keep a good handle on all of them. Last-minute changes are the challenges that we all face in youth sports, so keeping current and being flexible is essential.
Friends are extremely important, but sports also offer a social environment, allowing you to play with your friends while doing something you really love. My favorite memories of playing soccer are the experiences I had with my friends. The funniest moments and the times when I laughed the most happened on and around the soccer field. I was always smiling when I played. It may not always have been apparent — I often had a “determined” look on my face — but the enjoyment that I felt, especially playing with my friends, was something I will never forget and can never replace. So the next time you are running around with your teammates and friends, pause for a second and realize how fortunate you are. These times don’t last forever.
Of course, even people who have a handle on these priorities can run into problems staying focused on what they’re doing at any given moment. Soccer players have a tendency to be very focused when they’re on the pitch, and all that matters is playing and pushing themselves. This is hammered into you as a player, and it becomes almost second nature when you play. The key is to make sure that you’re equally focused off the field, and don’t get distracted. Commit yourself to each and every thing that you do. Don’t spend too much time thinking about the past or the future, but enjoy the present and maximize that time. When you’re with your family, they are the most important thing. When you work or study, that’s the most important thing, and you have to give 100 percent of your effort to it. Then when you’re with your friends, give all of your attention to them. This is an important lesson: when you’re on the soccer field, give everything you’ve got, and do the same with every other area in your life.
It’s never too early to learn discipline and commitment. As a coach, leverage real-world examples that kids can understand. One of my favorites: if you do your homework and study hard, the chances of doing well on an exam will be much higher. If you don’t do your homework or study, what’s going to be the end result? Commitment to get better and to improve does require determination, and the same is true with sports. The lessons of time management and discipline will help young players now, but much more importantly, they will provide the traits and skills that will help them throughout their lives in everything they do.
Editor's Note: This is an article I am going to have my son and everyone I know read....
RELATED ARTICLES: Soccer - Danny Jackson's ColumnDaniel (Danny) Jackson is a former Major League Soccer player and was captain of the Seattle Sounders for five seasons. Jackson, the Colorado Rapid’s first round pick in the 2002 MLS draft, recently retired from professional soccer following a successful career in which he led the Seattle Sounders to two USL National championships. At the University of North Carolina, Jackson was a multi-year All-American, team MVP, and three-year team captain. His UNC team won a National Championship in 2001, and he was named Soccer America National MVP and National Championship MVP the same year. Danny was awarded the 2002 Patterson Medal as the UNC Student Athlete of the year.
Danny Jackson's recent coaching experience ranges from youth soccer at Eastside FC and the Sounders FC / ODP youth development program and speaks to high schools and youth clubs regarding the far reaching impacts of youth sports. Danny also is serving as the Director of New Business for Korrio.