Name: Christen Press
You Know Me . . .
As a forward for the Chicago Red Stars (NWSL) and the U.S. Women's National Team
Achievements I'm most proud of
- Setting all-time records for scoring, goals and assists at Stanford
- Winning the Herman Trophy (college soccer's equivalent of the Heisman)
- Scoring a goal in the 2015 World Cup
My favorite memory of the World Cup is . . .
Winning it! We've been preparing for the tournament for most of our lives. Seeing the happy faces of my teammates, family and friends in the crowd was incredible.
Growing up, the athlete who inspired me was . . .
Pelé. He had an amazing passion for and understanding of football. It's magic to watch him play. He looked so natural, like he was born to play soccer, but in his training videos, he talked about how you have to work your hardest when nobody else is watching. That led me to start training outside of team practice, spending hours and hours on the field, just usually me and a bag of balls.
The hardest things I've ever had to bounce back from are . . .
- Losing in the College Cup two years in a row while I was at Stanford
- The Swedish team I played on, Tyreso, closing up shop in 2014. That was really tough! I was so attached to my teammates, and my experience over there was awesome
- Not touching the ball during my first year of youth soccer
When I'm traveling, I pass the time by . . .
Filling up my planner. I plan everything, from my meals for the week to when and where I can get in extra training, to shopping and finding time for friends. Because I can only spend so long in each city, I try to manage my time so I have space for everything I want to do and everyone I want to see.
I never travel without . . .
My planner, obviously. My cell phone—it's my connection to family and friends back home! And my toothbrush.
Things I couldn't live without:
- Meditation This is essential. It's how I start the day and how I decompress at the end of the day, 20 minutes each time. I am a completely different person since my sister Channing got me into meditating, and I would never go back.
The best advice I ever got is . . .
Stay present and keep your goals small. Realize that when you're on the field, you're not supposed to be thinking, you're just supposed to be. When I stopped worrying about results, results, results, it took a lot of the pressure off and I became a much better player.
Press Play: Christen Press's Skills Training
Christen hones her skills by performing drills she can do alone that are interesting and fun. She recommends that beginners start with these.
Coerver Drills – Level 1
This method for honing your soccer skills was developed by Wiel Coerver, a Dutch coach who sought to pass on techniques used by Pelé and other greats to the masses. Christen starts her training sessions with a simple drill, a series of toe touches on the ball, passing it back and forth from foot to foot. As you get comfortable, try:
- passing the ball more quickly
- widening the space from side to side
- keeping your eyes up and tracking the ball with your peripheral vision
- adding a "roll"—i.e., rolling your foot overtop the ball as you head in a direction
Press recommends adding anywhere from 5 minutes to a half hour of footwork drills at the end of the practice.
Coerver Drills – Level 2
When your toe tap game is in tip top shape, step it up a notch by adding behind-the-back pull-push. To do this:
- use your toes to pull the ball behind your body
- using the same foot, "push" the ball in the direction of your opposite foot
- extend your opposite leg out to stop the ball with the inside of your foot
- resume your toe touches.
Try to be fluid and smooth switching from move to move. "As you get more comfortable, you can do two or three in a row," Press says. "Try and get a little rhythmic with it if you can."
Press says, "Juggling is really important, because it prepares you for the big moment in a game, when you need to bring down a ball that's in the air and score a goal for your team." To make sure she has perfect touch, Press practices this juggling series:
- Start with simple, low kicks that send the ball just a few inches off the ground.
- Alternate kicking from left to right, keeping the ball in the air.
- Keep the ball near your body by putting backspin on it by curling up your toe as you kick.
- Flatten out your foot and take slightly bigger kicks, keeping the ball at or above waist height.
- For something more advanced, try taking two taps on each foot.
- If you're really in a rhythm, try a low-low-high combo—two smaller taps (toes curled up) followed by a bigger one (foot flat, sending the ball to waist height or higher).
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock