Leave It On The Field

A common expression I often hear before a big match or tournament is, “leave it on the field!: It’s understandable that athletes would want to give it their all, to it all out there when the big game or tournament or tryout comes along. When I coached high school soccer, I can remember hearing, “leave it on the field,” from my players before the last game of the season – it used to make me want to cuss.

Leave it on the field… tonight? Where in the $%@& was that sentiment at the start of the season or halfway through league-play?

I’ve since realized that “leaving it on the field” isn’t like flipping a light switch. That effort and intensity doesn’t just turn “on” right when you need it. Instead, it’s an attitude – something that needs to be cultivated throughout one’s season and career.

Apollo Creed was right – “there is no tomorrow!” He’d been helping Rocky train to get another title bout in Rocky III – and the former champ had just informed Apollo that he’d “work hard tomorrow.”  There’s a pervasive mentality in middle-class athletes that there’s always going to be another game, another shot, another chance to prove oneself. This I’ll-Do-It-Tomorrow-Mentality bleeds intensity and ambition dry.

Figure out what “leaving it on the field” looks like. If today was the last time you would play your sport – what would your last game look like? What – specifically – would we see? “I’m going to play hard” doesn’t cut it. Get specific. This gives you a better, clearer picture of just what it means to “leave it on the field”

Don’t wait until the end of the season to “leave it on the field.” Imagine an athlete or a team truly dedicated to “leaving it on the field” from the start of a season. They recognize that tomorrow is promised to no one. Consequently, they appreciate each opportunity to give their best effort and intensity at each practice and competition. That’s an athlete or team, win or lose, that won’t look back and ask, “what if…”


2 Responses to “Leave It On The Field”

  1. 1 Mason Astley July 10, 2010 at 10:21 am

    So good. Thanks.

    I’m also thinking about that high school soccer team and what they are telling each other going into the last game. Certainly “leave it on the field” is better than “Let’s no screw up our last game.” I take your larger point that this feeling of “LIOTF” as a baseline approach to play is ideal. And I think you’re right that it starts in practice. I’m wondering what people think of how to approach that for the long-term for practice and a season of competition. For example, I coach some D III tennis players, who sometimes come to practice without a whole lot in the gas tank (let’s assume this is because of academic and/or work demands). My preference is that a player go full speed for as long as they can and then rest rather than sleep-walking through the full length of time, on the assumption that it’s better to never get in the practice of doing something half-assed. Thoughts?


  1. 1 West Seattle soccer community stunned at sudden loss of coach | goalWA.net Trackback on October 12, 2011 at 8:28 am

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