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It only takes one move to carry you from the field to the sideline.  For me, it was a simple turn after taking a shot on goal and hearing an unforgettable ACL snap. The lead up to a journey of surgery, doctors visits and physical rehabilitation for each athlete may differ.  However one thing is the same, you are not in the game. And, what you decide to do with this time away will shape the player who returns.

Although the change in your daily schedule can be a hard adjustment, it is important to recognize that in every setback there are seeds of opportunity.  Player development can take many forms.  And, when you are on the sidelines, you have the chance to give attention to improving the small, but invaluable, aspects of your game.  Here are five proven ways you can continue improving your skillset.

See the Game from a Different Perspective: Ever wonder what the coach sees when you are out on the field?  Seize the moment to hop in their shoes and coach a youth team.  Whether the players are four or fourteen, I guarantee this experience will give you a new perspective of your own game.

Pay it Forward: At times, we get so wrapped up in our athletic pursuits that we tend to forget about our other talents.  Why don’t you put some of these skills to good use or develop some new talents by donating a few hours to a local soccer organization.  Going behind the scenes to help with the administrative duties at a youth club or using a bit of your creativity to generate support for a soccer cause can introduce you to a possible career path after you hang up your cleats.

Scouting Players: Does watching games make you antsy?  One way to avoid that is to change your perception and use your soccer vacay to scout teams and players. Watching YouTube videos and live matches of all skill levels can help introduce you to new moves and ways to get an edge on the competition.

Reacquaint yourself with the Ball: The beauty of soccer is that we get to use so many parts of our body.  Therefore when one body part is healing, you have other several others that you can work.  My best friend will be the first to tell you that, while my left leg was strapped in a brace, I would sit in the bed and juggle a size one ball with my right foot.  It was a true test of will but I made it a fun game and it improved my touch on the ball tremendously.

Got any other ways we can stay in the game while injured?  Feel free to share them in the comment section below!

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