Colorado native Kristen Hamilton discovered soccer after seeing a friend of hers playing — but has since made it into her own game. While playing for the University of Denver, Hamilton became the school’s all-time points leader (138) and goal scorer (51), and also the only Division I athlete in history to be named player of the year in three separate conferences. After graduating in 2014, Hamilton was drafted to the NWSL’s Western New York Flash, becoming the school’s first soccer player drafted to the league.
Here are five tips that Hamilton would give herself at age 13.
1. Enjoy it! Have fun!
This is the age where you make lifelong friends and memories. Traveling with your best friends all over the nation, staying in nice hotels, and feeling free from parents (not to mention getting to miss some school to play). Even horror stories of fitness are among the memories you will talk about for a lifetime. So embrace it!
2. Out work everyone on the field.
You can be the best player in the world but it doesn’t matter if you’re lazy. Make the effort to do the extra work on and off the field. Come gametime your coach and teammates will trust in your work ethic and know you will do your job. It’s very noticeable when a player is lazy; no one wants to play with someone who doesn’t put the effort in. This is especially important if you’re having an off day. If things aren’t going your way focus on what you can control, and that’s you and how hard you’re going to work to help your team be successful.
3. If you get the opportunity to play with older teams, do it.
Even if it’s for a practice or two. Obviously as players get older they get stronger, faster, and more skilled. Playing at a higher level will give you an advantage and help develop your game. It will also prepare you for high school and eventually college soccer when you will always be playing with players older than you.
4. Whenever you get the chance, do individual or private sessions.
Working on dribbling, shooting, passing, or trapping will drastically improve your game. You can never be too good to work on aspects of your game outside of your normal training schedule. The more touches on the ball you get, the more comfortable you’re going to be come game time.
5. Be confident!
I can’t stress this enough. The second you start doubting yourself and your ability everything starts to go downhill. Believe in yourself and the abilities you have been given and worked so hard to master. If you’re having an off day do the simple things, get through it, and look forward to the next day.