This post is dedicated to Jen, a super star soccer player and my new athlete mentor.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been getting together with a group of girls to play something different than basketball: soccer. Or futbol, here in Buenos Aires. On Monday nights, we’ve been going to an all-soccer club, with two synthetic grass canchas (courts) for 5-on-5 soccer. The freshness of learning something new has raised my spirits, not to mention being in a new mix of girls, all from different parts of the world.
While playing with these women, I noticed how often I said “I’m sorry.” Every time I bumped or stepped on someone these words automatically came out of my mouth. I tried to become conscious of this need to apologize in the presence of physical contact and realize that this is how I’ve been conditioned inside of society. And I wasn’t the only one doing it; many of the girls seemed unfamiliar with dealing with physical contact inside of sports.
In comparison, men’s sports already have a whole array of internal codes when dealing with physical contact. Watching guys play fascinates me at times because it seems second nature for them to bump, fall, dive, and die for the ball. I thought about how most women have come from generations of quiet delicateness but now is our time to break out of this and catch up with men in the world of sports.
Another thought: the difference between power and precision. When playing sports, you can be powerful and ineffective. I’ve seen large men play horrible basketball because they have no tactics, no strategy and no precision. I’m learning that part of being a successful athlete is learning to measure my strength, not just exhibit its limit.
Both these realizations gave me new insight into my own basketball team, as well as the origin of the inner mental blocks I’ve been feeling lately.
Yesterday, after an hour of soccer, I proudly proclaimed to a round table of athletic women and beer: “When we play 7-7 on an large authentic grass court, I will do a tackle dive and end up with huge bruise on my side!”
Laughter went up and I felt complete.