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Team Conditioning Systems:
Just For Kicks

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

By Gregory "Graig" White
SJSports Physical Fitness Advisor

Thank you Briana Scurry. I picked one of the local papers last week and saw an articled called “Goalie rededicates herself and returns to star status.” It was a story about how Scurry worked herself back into the national soccer picture by participating in a working out. She talked when she played in the 1999 World Cup Games, she did “enough training just to be better than everybody else.” For what its worth makes sense, but after the tournament ended, Scurry didn’t have much reason to be better than anyone else. When she went into the 2000 Olympics having worked out just before the games as hard as she could and was faced with a startling revelation, her best wasn’t good enough. She was named a backup for the team.

The reason I am writing this is because now I’m interested. I wanted to know how the person I thought was the most important part of the 1999 World Cup victory fell so far so fast. It was my belief that if Scurry doesn’t stop the PK, then Brandi Chastain isn’t catapulted into hyper-stardom. Scurry talked about how she felt after the 3-2 loss in sudden death to Norway in the Olympic Gold Medal game. She said that she felt like she had let every down. “Anger set in more than anything at myself,” said Scurry. "I felt in my heart that if I were playing, we would have won. I felt responsible.” The first two years she played in the WUSA she was named to the Second Team all-WUSA, this past year she was named Keeper of the Year.

Scurry returned to the national team in July of last year as a substitute and by the end of the year she had earned back the top spot. How did she do it? She got into lifting weights, “not just the teeny little dumbbells, I’m really getting some weight up and pushing myself.” Said Scurry, “I think I’m a lot better in every area, I was always quick, good with my hands, very agile. But now I’m even quicker I’m more agile. My feet have actually gotten a lot better. My goal kicks go to midfield. My punting- I’ve actually added 20 yards on it. I’m better all-around I’ve just added a lot of strength.” Rarely do you hear about an athlete who gets better at the age of 32 but when you do it is generally due to the athlete making the commitment to getting into the best possible condition.

So after reading this, my question is what do you think would have happened if you made getting fit a priority early in your career? Believe me I know that properly learning the skill of the sport is important, but wouldn’t it be just as prudent as to make an investment in yourself as it pertains to getting and staying fit and injury free? Soccer athletes are playing all year round now and it seems as though the fear is that if I’m not playing someone else is and getting better, to that I say, sometimes you have to put the ball down to improve.

I’m starting to work with more and more soccer players and the skill that they display is amazing. To be honest, I’m quickly becoming a fan and some of my soccer athletes are becoming converts. They are getting comfortable with the idea that it’s ok to not to play all year, that focusing on your fitness and working to stay injury free are just as important.

Do you have a fitness or conditioning question for Graig? Send it to If your question is used in an article, you will receive a free Team Conditioning Systems t-shirt.
For previous Winning Ways, visit Graig's Archives.

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