What Happens on the Field Needs to Stay on the Field

Respect between teammates is crucial - (Photo: Salon.com)

Soccer can be a very emotional sport, especially towards the end of a major match, when desperation and panic can set in.  Players often will be left furious and flailing their hands in the air when their opening went unseen by a teammate, who instead opted to shoot.  A single player can ruin the fortunes of a team with a careless foul, or by refusing to chase down a loose ball, or giving up a handball for a penalty.  When such actions occur and the emotions are running so high, there will the possibility that some harsh words may be exchanged.  Someone who was your best friend half an hour ago on the team bus might be calling you a naughty word, and your soul could be crushed!

And so how do you manage through these conflicts that will inevitably occur during the twists and turns of a soccer season?  You need to develop some thick skin and realize that during the matches, things will happen and things will be said.  But afterwards, you need to find peace with one another and forget about it.  I know, it’s easier said than done, but here are some tips to help you on your way to reconciliation with a teammate.

First, realize that you guys share a common goal: to win soccer games!  Finding a common ground is key to overcoming personal differences, and while in many relationships that can be a challenge, for a soccer player it is as clear as day.  Someone is mad because someone else hurt the team’s chances in the game.  Once both parties realize that they simply want to win, they can come to an agreeable resolution over the matter.

Also, regardless of who or what transpired on the field, apologize to your teammate.  Whether you missed the perfect pass to them and they are hurt, or if you were the hopeful recipient that never got your pass (and then shared some harsh words), don’t shy away from making amends after the game or at the next practice.  By apologizing, you are helping to let your teammate know that you accepted your mistake and want to work on it.

A definite problem can arise if the squabble is between two players who already don’t like each other much.  Not everyone on a soccer team is going to be everyone’s best friend, especially when there is internal competition for playing time and so forth.  How can you deal with an angry on-field exchange with someone who will surely not try to see your point of view and simply doesn’t like you?

Don’t let it bother you.  Perhaps talk to the player and try to work it out, but don’t feel the need to bend over backwards for someone.  If you can keep things professional and work together on the field, your relationship off the field isn’t that important.  Obviously, you should make some attempt to reconcile a situation, but don’t strain yourself over earning the respect of someone who can’t stand you.

Remember, what happens on the field stays on the field.  Don’t get angry because a teammate yelled at you in the heat of the moment while your team was attempting a last minute charge.  Mistakes happen and emotions can easily boil over.  If you let such feelings invade your well being and trouble you, they will only grow.  Accept that the game can be trying to anyone’s personality and that eventually, we will all be yelled at.


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