Step by step I walk to Kiwanis Field. I enter the stadium knowing that this is the home of prairie stars. I look at the field as I walk by it, and I have flash backs of the last game we just had. Being that our last game was a loss, I knew that today would have to be a good day at training. I continue on to the locker room and I open the door. I look to find that my personal locker is just how I left it, slightly open with tons of athletic clothes bulging out. Other teammates are at their lockers getting ready for practice so I sit down on the bench right in front of my locker and get started. I follow my regular practice routine at my locker. My routine usually consists of playing music off of the Pandora app on my cell phone, putting on my team soccer gear, rolling a long padded cylinder pole on my legs to help stretch out my legs , reviewing our common team goals of game strategies and motivations, and then I leave the locker room for the practice field transformed into the player I need to be. Famous words were spoken in the past by Abraham Lincoln when he said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will use the first four sharpening the axe.” The quote voices the importance of preparation and what it leads to. In relation to that quote I have to have a locker to go to before I play. If I didn’t have a locker to use before I practice or play I wouldn’t perform well. Going to my locker before I play soccer is vital to me being mentally focused and physically prepared to improve my game.
Understanding one of the uses of going to and leaving my locker from my perspective is understanding the personality change of going from studious and personal living to preparing for soccer. This tends to be a pretty massive change in personality for me because I go from thinking about my friends, family, what I need to do for the day, and studying to becoming serious and blanking everything out except for the game of soccer. My locker tends to help me block out everything going on in my head by keeping my head straight forward into the small space it has to offer, limiting my sight and eventually forcing me to focus on my preparation. The game of soccer for a soccer player isn’t just the game itself, it consists of much more out of the game. For me, the game of soccer is what I am doing to prepare for practice or games, reviewing game tactics, and asking myself what I need to do to better my soccer skills. My life outside of being in the locker room or the game/practice field, however, has no affect on how well I improve, the common goals of our team, or the result of the game. So why let it change how you feel and think? For example, if I was dealing with a family crisis and I was preparing to play soccer, I would go to my locker and look into it, thinking about soccer until I am mentally focused. One of the key factors in preparation is mentally focusing on the task at hand.
Players on my team may not transform into the soccer player they are the same as I do. This is part of what makes players different. Not all soccer players could compare the way I transform into a soccer player with another teammate on my team that may have different steps or ideals in preparing or playing soccer. Some players on my team are pretty energetic and have happy-go-lucky moods about them when they are at their lockers. They could be joking around with teammates, singing to music, and juggling a ball at their lockers. I believe it’s because they don’t need a quiet place or focal point to be able to start preparing for what’s ahead. Sometimes they have different routines. Some players on my team may not use their locker at all by keeping their gear on them and not putting all of their gear on until they are out on the field, they might not roll out their legs because their legs may not get tight, and they may not review game tactics at all because they may know them by heart. For me, that’s not the case. I need to do my routine to ensure quality when I play. The mental switch of using a locker for others may not be as deliberate of a switch as mine. From experience, I have had teammates where they have the same mental mindset as they do off the field, unlike me I go from relaxed to focused/serious. My locker is essentially my key to becoming a better player.
After coming back to the locker room from practice I usually sit down and and start taking off my gear. Taking off my gear gives me a sense of relief that the job is done and I can relax and look back on how I did. I begin to put my dirty clothes in my personal laundry loop so the coaches can wash my gear for next time. If needed I may stretch my legs out again before I leave with the padded pole. Lastly when everything is put away in my locker I close my locker door. The noise of the door clanging is sort of a mental signal that I can transform back to the social and academic person I am out side of soccer. I then leave the locker room ready to have my athletic gear back in my locker when I arrive the next time.
The transformation of players from their normal lives to preparing to p]lay soccer can be shown in many ways and everyone’s is different. The way to change one’s self and the amount of effort put into mentally blocking the life outside of all the aspects of soccer will determine the soccer player they are. I call the transformation the “Clark Kent Effect” because Clark Kent has a normal personal life, but then when duty calls, he goes to his secret phone booth and comes out as superman ready to do good for the world. No matter what team I play on and no matter if I am practicing or playing in a game, I will carry on my ideals of transforming into the soccer player I need to be.