SoccerToday Series on What I Know Now shares advice and wisdom from former soccer professionals and high-level soccer coaches.
Originally from Madrid, Spain, Nick Perera, a collegiate star at UC Santa Barbara, was the 2006 College Cup most Outstanding Offensive Player. From 2011-14, Perera played with the MISL Milwaukee Wave, accruing 52 goals and 38 assists in 69 games. Perera has been selected the past four seasons to play with the U.S. Beach Soccer Men’s National Team and is now the team’s captain. In addition to being the current forward for the many-time champions San Diego Sockers, Perera is also on the US Futsal National Team and a coach for the Cardiff Competitive Soccer Program.
I have been coaching soccer for 7 years now; from youth soccer to collegiate men’s soccer and everything in between. Coaching offers a wonderful perspective on what kind of player you are, or what you admire in the game of soccer.
Personally, I try to coach the beautiful game; possession-based associative soccer.
As a youth soccer player, I was the opposite. I wanted to score goals, as many as possible, and the buildup never interested me, I only wanted the ball for myself, to dribble opponents and score goals.
Sometimes I catch myself chastising a player on my youth teams for trying to beat an opponent more than once, when his teammate is completely alone in space. It flashes me back to the way I used to understand soccer.
What I know now, that would have changed my potential evolution in the game of soccer would be:
1) there is no such thing as a crippling deficiency in soccer (I was always so worried I was too slow)
2) that in order to improve within the game, you have to play the type of soccer that empowers you, but benefits the team.
The sport of soccer evolves periodically, and as such, players must evolve with the demands of the game. The key to improving and progressing within the sport is and always will be introspection. The ability to accurately look at yourself, diagnose your weaknesses and sharpen them is without a doubt, one of the most important and most overlooked strengths in an elite soccer player.
Unfortunately, this skill requires patience and maturity, and often by the time you reach that plateau, it’s too late and you’re thinking to yourself: if only I had known then what I know now…
Advice from the Pros Series: WHAT I KNOW NOW with Rachel Buelher, Taylor Twellman & Colin Chesters and Ryan Guy