There’s a phenomenon in soccer that can be observed from the sideline that is referred to as...“Turf Trolls”.
Have you ever encountered one of these in a game or training?
The way you know if you have is at some point you tripped on the turf and fell hard for no apparent reason. The only explanation for these moments that you hope didn’t get caught on camera is that there are trolls living on the field somewhere and they’re messing with you.
You’re on your way to practice and you just trip and fall for no apparent reason. But it shows up in peculiar, but specific, ways: you “just don’t want to play” today. You show up at a game and begin to scan the other team to determine whether you’re going to win or lose today before the game has started.
Your coach wants to talk to you after practice and it makes you feel sick in your stomach. You find yourself secretly hoping the ball doesn’t come to you. The closer tryouts come, the more intense the emotional and bodily reactions are.
You dread the question “How was practice” that you know is coming from mom or dad in the car. Soccer just isn’t fun.
That last one is the main one: soccer is an objectively fun game. So if you’re not having fun, then you aren’t playing soccer, you’re working soccer.
And anxiety will always accompany that type of relationship with soccer because when you are working, you’re working for something. And of course, that something is the one thing you’ve always needed and still need more than anything in the world: love.
Ask yourself, in this moment, is soccer fun?
And I don’t mean “it’s fun hanging out with my friends at soccer.” I mean playing the game: training, games, backyard with your dog. Is soccer fun? If it isn’t, then there is work to be done within yourself.
Soccer doesn’t need to change, you need to change. And you don’t need to change so that soccer can be fun and you can meet your potential. You need to change because you have become someone who is programmed to earn love through performance and if it isn’t soccer, you will find some other way to earn love.
And where a person tries to earn love, there will never be enough love. And THAT is the true cause of anxiety.
Don’t worry, we’re here for you. We completely understand what you’re experiencing (I'm a man, so I may not understand the LADYballer part) and that's why I teamed up with the women of SoccerGrlProbs to create a guide to healing and wholeness specifically aimed at your experience.
Seth is a Writer, Life Coach, and Soccer Coach from Seattle, WA. His work has primarily focused on helping people deal with anxiety, depression, and other experiential struggles as they play out in work, sports, and family life. He is a keynote speaker for Major League Soccer on issues of identity and life/work balance in their athletes and is the author of On Frame: Exploring the Depths of Parenting in the World of Youth Soccer as well as The Coaching Revolution: An Interactive Guide to Finding Joy and Excellence in Coaching.