Mia Hamm. Who doesn’t know her name and the impact she’s had on women’s soccer? She shares her experiences and story here.
SOCCER SINCE SHE STARTED
Soccer has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. Participation levels are unprecedented. In the past, participation usually fell off when athletes went to college. But I think the national teams’ and Major League Soccer’s successes have created more opportunities for kids. Athletes can see themselves playing professionally and representing their national team. Hopefully, we can get the women’s league going again to provide further opportunities for female athletes.
TRAINING FOR SOCCER NOW
Kids are becoming more specialized, because they have greater access to specialized training. Better resources and opportunities are available for kids to become better educated—not just about the sport, but about properly preparing their bodies to play.
THE EARLY DAYS
In high school, I trained extremely hard. I made the national team at 15. So my focus and goal in high school was to stay on that team. But many high school athletes are still trying to figure out what they want to do, and if that’s where they are in life, that’s okay too. Training with the men’s and women’s teams really helped me to stay on the national team as well as go to the University of North Carolina. So considering the results I had, I wouldn’t do too many things differently. Maybe enjoy my high school days more, but nothing athletically.
I played basketball and soccer my freshman year in high school. But making the national team at 15 was really the deciding factor—so soccer kind of chose me. I got to experience soccer at the highest level at a young age; I decided I wanted to be part of that for as long as possible.
CHOOSING YOUR SPORT
Follow your heart and make it your decision. Those are the two keys to making the right choice. If you do those things, you’ll embrace your game so much more. Rather than fulfilling someone else’s dream or goal, you’ll fulfill your own.
Sports have become increasingly more specialized, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be fun. You still have to enjoy what you do. If you enjoy your sport, you’ll be amazed at the commitment you’ll make to it.
It’s important to have a support system of people you know and trust—people who have your best interest in mind and people who are there regardless of your success or lack of success.
TRAINING IN TEMPE
Although Mia dedicated herself to athletic improvement every day early in her career, she stepped up her efforts when she started training at Athletes’ Performance, Tempe, Ariz.
I learned about the many aspects of being an athlete from training at Athletes’ Performance. I never ran track, so they taught me how to run efficiently and with good technique. I also learned to be more efficient with my lateral movement. Athletes’ Performance provides more than just speed, agility and strength information. They talk about nutrition and recovery; they have seminars on dealing with the media. It’s a well-rounded program. I also like how many different programs they offer. If you’re not feeling it, you can tell the trainers that you don’t feel like you’re getting the full benefit. They will break down the program and make changes.