What made my playing days better?

I’m speaking from my own personal experience as an athlete and coach here. Adding together those two sides and seeing everything from both perspectives, I’ve come to an understanding that there are few things that are very important and crucial in success of an athlete.

As an athlete I’ve played for many different coaches on various different levels if I may put it that way. Based on when I felt most comfortable and had the most success I’ve come to some of these conclusions.

I can’t list them in a specific order by importance because they may vary a little for different characters but all of them are crucial. It’s impossible to even put them in a specific order for myself because I feel like every single on of these points are as important as the other ones.

  • Clear expectations and directions

I’ve always found it very important to know what exactly I’m supposed to do and what is expected from me as an athlete. That way I can see my goals clearer and know exactly what I’m striving for in a game, training. This goes from smaller things to bigger. I want to know exactly what is expected from me in a drill and the same about the whole season in general.

  • Everything in place

This one is probably the biggest one for me. If I’m and athlete, I want everything to be in place in terms of the things that aren’t  related to my own playing and my own abilities to perform. Things such as kit, ball, field readiness for trainings or games. Club being stable, everything organized, proper staff and everyone responsible for their own things. Basically everything around me taken care of. I found this very important because every little thing that isn’t in the place is a distraction and it takes away from the performance. As an athlete you just want to show up to the training or game and all you want to think of is your own performance. Only then you can give it your best.

  • Equality

No matter how good or bad of a player you are, everyone wants to fit in and feel equal with others. Of course in a way it’s impossible to have everyone equal because there are some players that are much better than others. Also, there are leaders and followers. I guess this comes down to coaching as well. I found it very important that coach doesn’t have their favorites clearly shown to everyone. Every single player should be treated the same way. No priorities for some players. Equality in all aspects.

  • Genuinely caring and supportive coach

This might not be as important for some male athletes as in general they aren’t as emotional and their mind works a little differently. But for me it was very important that my coach genuinely cared for the team and players. I had to see that the coach wants to be successful as much as I do. It was important for me that the coach supported me through the lows and highs. I’ve been blessed to play for many coaches that I’ve seen like father figures in my life. The coaches that encouraged me when I was down. Listened to me through my struggles. Cheered me on when I scored a goal. Looked after me when I had to recover from long term injuries. Those coaches are the ones that kept me in the game for so long and without them I never would have recovered from several major injuries I had throughout my career. To put it in one word, I expect passion from the coach.

  • Family behind the back

Who are we without our families? Yes, we do play for ourselves and we do play because we love the game. We enjoy scoring goals or points. We love to keep the net clean and get in a killer tackle but at some point we all question ourselves – Why am I doing this? When we get to that point and when we as that question is a point where we struggle. A point when we might feel like we are a little tired and we don’t need this. That’s when the family comes in. When you see you mamma cheering you on in the stands or you sibling right there in the stands you know they care, you know they are proud of you. Doesn’t that make it all worth it?

  • Reward and recognition

Of course our personal satisfaction is motivating and often it keeps pushing us but when you reach a certain level, that isn’t enough. Sometimes you run out of that inner drive but if you have some reward to strive for, it motivates you. Titles, awards, prized, salary. Those things do matter. Any successful athlete strives for those things and it would be silly to say that they don’t matter.  They do.


I’ve probably missed some things but these where just the few that came to my mind when I looked back at the times when I had the most success, times when things went from hand. All of these things came to picture and were the key to my success.

As a coach now, I can’t say I’m pin point keeping up with all of these but I’m trying to do my best because I know how important all of these are if I want my players to be successful. If I want to get their 100% out, I have to give my 100% to all of these.



Photo: Nora Krevneva-Baibakova