Every soccer player wants to be the best.
Every young girl starting in the game today aspires to become one of the best female soccer players in the world. It will take them a lot of hard work and application to reach the top and the prerequisite of skill and ability. Not everyone with the ability will make it, and some who lack the skills might still make a living because they work hard.
Aspiring young players will look everywhere for their inspiration. Some might turn to top professionals such as Steph Houghton for her advice, having seen her tread the path from the park to the World Cup. Others might look to different sports, using the theory that successful individuals have a mindset that applies across different games. Those thinking outside of the box might even cast an eye over the world of professional poker.
There is no obvious crossover between poker and women’s football, but there are lessons to be learned when you scratch the surface. The most obvious element of poker to make an impression is the mixture of male and female players; gender is no barrier to success. Vanessa Selbst proved that, taking on the men in several tournaments and winning. In 2010, she took home $750,000 from the North American Poker Tour Main Event. In 2011, she won it a second time. There are few sports where such equality is possible, but poker is one. It hasn’t always been as easy, poker has fewer women players, but the fact they compete on an even level gives our young soccer stars hope that one day, women’s soccer will be appreciated as much as the men’s game.
What other lessons can aspiring female soccer stars take from the world of poker? Here are three that apply both to the card game and soccer.
Never Stop Learning
The best players never stop learning, something applicable to every sport. In poker, you start by picking up the intricacies of the poker hand ranking charts, then learn the language before testing your skills around a table. In soccer, you pick up the basic rules, then head out onto the pitch to learn how the game works in reality. In both instances, your tutorials have only just begun at that stage. Every defeat, every badly played hand, teaches you something new for the future. The very best players never feel they’ve reached the top, and they never stop learning and developing.
In soccer, you might lose a game once a week if you’re really bad, but you might also win once a week. Poker is very different, each hand is won or lost, and you have to bounce back quickly. Accepting defeat in any sport is tough, but it is also essential. Nobody wins every game; nobody gets it right every time. In poker, you have a chance to bounce back quickly from a bad hand, but if you dwell on one loss, it can affect your whole game. Aspiring female soccer players can learn from that, enabling them to accept defeat and always focus on what they can influence, such as the next game.
Adapting during a game is not always easy, especially if you have a preset tactic in your mind when you head out. In poker, you have no choice, you might have a great pair of pocket cards, but the flop can quickly alter your strategy. The same can be said for soccer – you might be aiming to keep it tight for the first 20 minutes but suddenly be 2-0 down and needing to change very rapidly. Playing poker teaches you to be adaptable and responsive, and it’s a very important attribute to have on the soccer field.
The parallels between poker and soccer are not always obvious, but there are many attributes that you need to be a success in both. Whether it is these three lessons or one of the mindset benefits we have spoken about previously on the site, poker is a valuable learning tool for any female soccer player.
The WSU Team bringing you news and updates from the world of women’s football.