Fitness is Your Responsibility

Fitness has always been an important part of soccer. The majority of
soccer players fail to realize how important fitness is in order to
enhance performance, and many have never experienced being "soccer
fit."  Many players make the mistake of waiting for their coaches to
get them fit.  Although it is important for coaches to test and monitor
a player's fitness, it is not all of their responsibility.  What
players lack is accepting responsibility for their fitness.  It is
critical for players to have a consistent and committed approach to
their conditioning.  Players should look to maintain their fitness year
round.  There are different fitness demands for each part of the year. 
Fitness work is different during season compared to the off-season.   
Therefore, there are different demands.  However, it is up to players
to create a "fitness basing" that lasts year round.
There are several advantages to being fit during season.  First,
everything becomes easier with a good fitness base.  Confidence becomes
the most significant gain.  Being fit gives players a tremendous
psychological advantage.  You can actually look at your opponent and
know that you have worked harder then them in your preparation.
For most players, fitness is not fun.  In youth soccer, many players
associate fitness with being penalized.  Running laps for being late,
or doing sprints because you forgot your ball.  This is the norm for
youth players.  What coaches don't teach is that you must work on your
fitness just like you work on dribbling, passing, shooting, etc.  Its
part of becoming a good player.  Becoming fit can be a very demanding
process and presents players with a tremendous challenge.  The easiest
part of getting fit and staying fit is that the player is in control. 
The hard part is your mental state.  Your mentality will be your
biggest challenge.  When players are training on their own, it's you
versus yourself.  Your mental toughness comes into play on two levels. 
First, your willingness and commitment to endure the physical pain of
conditioning.  Second, your mentality shows when your fitness is
tested.  Some players pass fitness tests because they are fit.  Some
players will pass because they are somewhat fit but psychologically
hard and they can get past the pain and push themselves to pass.  Some
players fail because they are not fit and some fail because they give
into the test itself even though they are fit enough to pass, it hurts
too much.  Out of respect for yourself and your teammates, players
should strive on being fit.  It benefits the player and the entire
team.  However, fitness is not getting fit for then season, fitness is
a life long endeavor.