Don’t Put the Mountain Before the Rock

Nobody trips over mountains…it’s the rocks that trip you up. Focus on the rock in your path, and you will eventually conquer the mountain.

Long time SoccerFIT athlete Jordan Jackson, lifts the national championship trophie last weekend after a long climb to the top.

Last week our focus here at the SoccerFIT Academy was structured around the mountain and the rock. Too many of our players tend to focus on the mountainous task in front of them. They focus on the outcome (winning the game, beating a record, the celebration, the what if…), and along the way they forget to do the little things that are going to get them to this point.

Far too many players truly believe that running around cones, or picking up dumbbells is what develops physical speed and power. They think that the doorway into our facility, or the touchline on the field, is somehow magical, and the second you walk through the door or onto the field you become better. They boast about the victories they think they will achieve, but fail to fix their focus on the activities that lead to victories.

The truth of the matter is that there is no magic doorway. There is no easy way.

Do you actually think that performing 5 sets of 6 with the same weight all summer is going to somehow make you stronger, more powerful, faster or more explosive on the field? I have said for years,

“It’s really not the choice of exercises that make you better, it’s the powerful execution and focus on the intent of the exercise that will make you better.”

I have seen players jog through agility drills, with absolutely no effort or focus, and right next to them is a player that is sprinting through the drill with a passionate focus that seems to say, “Nobody’s going to beat me in this drill today.” Guess who is frustrated at the end of the season when they see the test results?

We try to put in drills that mimic the game, so that players can get a mental picture of how this is relevant. Alan Stein tweeted out this week,

“The best drills are the ones that have a perceived relevance – drills that players know will transfer to the game. They have a greater level of focus, concentration and effort with a higher perceived relevance.”

I couldn’t agree more.

We can set the stage. We can create a competitive environment. We can provide encouragement, but the athlete has to focus on the task, put in the effort and find reasons to run.

During these drills (that often have somewhat of a conditioning focus), don’t allow yourself to focus on the NUMBER of reps or runs you will have to make…instead fix your focus on making the NEXT run. Fix your attention on the NOW and not the FUTURE. Focus on making the most out of the next run…the outcome will take care of itself.

As we went through our Game Speed Post Test for our summer training program we talked about this aspect. It was hot, players were tired, but the ones that put in effort all summer were rewarded with great scores. Two records were broken and three records were tied. Overall we showed a 12% improvement in Game Speed. And for those that attended each week the improvement was even better.

We started out the summer telling the players if they could just focus on getting 1% better each day on the field they would be 10-20% better by the end of the summer. This held true, as many of our players achieved this outcome, by focusing on putting maximum effort in the small daily tasks each day.

So in closing, remember, everyone has their mountain to climb, but to get to the top, we need to fix our focus on the rocks in our path that will trip us up. Conquer each rock, and eventually we will conquer the mountain!


  1. “focus on getting 1% better each day on the field”

    I think that’s a great goal. It gives athletes something to reach and push for, but something that is still within their grasp. The bar needs to be set high, but not so high that athletes give up before they even try. Small victories propel you on the road to big ones.

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