WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — I tell my body to do a lot of things: Run one more sprint. Strike 50 balls. Push through just 15 more minutes. Warm up. Cool down. Sit in an excruciating ice bath. But sometimes it’s not about what I tell my body, but what my body tells me. Sometimes it’s not about doing, but instead listening.
When I get too run-down, I get a dull headache. If I don’t rest, it turns into a migraine. When I train too hard, my muscles feel different (not that satisfying, fatigued/sore feeling after a hard workout). If I push it too much, I get a slight strain. These are things I’ve learned over the years by being forced to listen to what my body has to say, rather than just making it do what I want.
The body can be an amazing tool. Mine allows me to play the sport I love as a profession, and I demand a lot from it. For these reasons, I try really hard to listen. It’s not something I’ve completely mastered (nor do I ever think I will), but I’m certainly trying.
The feeling of mastery is so satisfying — knowing that you fully understand something as well as anyone can possibly understand it. I want to understand my body in this way — to be able to push it to it’s absolute limit, maximize everything it has to offer, yet never exceed that fine line, either mentally or physically. I have immense admiration for a player like Christie Rampone, who at age 35, after giving birth to two children, is one of the fittest and most well-rounded athletes I’ve ever seen.
There is a feeling that comes with having attained a certain level of mastery. It is not specific to fútbol, but fútbol is the medium through which I have experienced it. The feeling comes in those fleeting, yet memorable, moments in which actions feel effortless, and a supreme capability inhabits both body and mind.
The path to mastery is carved through paradox. It’s training hard enough to be in optimal condition, yet still allowing my mind and body adequate rest. It’s remaining motivated and striving to be the player I dream of becoming, yet feeling confident and satisfied with who I am right in this moment. It’s about telling my body what needs to be done, but listening to what it has to say in return. Treading these fine lines, and finding balance, is an art.
As we enter the final weeks of training before the announcement of the roster for the World Cup, I face the challenge of asking from my body (and mind) for everything it can give. I am surrounded by a group of athletes who operate under the premise of no regrets.
We are all doing everything possible to be our absolute best. This means something different for each player, especially because we are all at unique points along our journeys and in our careers. Whether or not the final roster of 21 players includes my name, I can confidently say that I’ve done everything in my power to give myself the best opportunity to make the team. And there’s no better feeling than having done your very best.