Is your lifestyle causing you to lose out on playing at a higher level?

Everyone wants to be a baller! Ask any kid what they want to be when they grow up and 9 times out of 10 it’s “I want to be a footballer!”

When they’re young it seems to come from the love of kicking a ball around and the idolisation of their favourite players. As they get older though, things start to change. Increasingly it’s the associated “lifestyle” of professional footballers that attracts people – the money, the fast cars, the partying, and the model other half.

We heard yesterday, on the BBC Football page, that Rochdale forward Donal McDermott, originally in the Manchester City Youth System, “wasn’t living right” in the past and how much he values the lifeline he’s been given to get back into league football.

Another recent story came last month in the Liverpool Echo, from Everton youngster Francisco Junior (currently on loan at Wigan Athletic). The message was clear – alcohol and partying had cost him “another level”.

The game is littered at all levels with the “next big thing” that disappears off the radar having made lifestyle choices that robbed them of their opportunity. Unfortunately it’s all too common and, for those that go down that road, it’s only a few that make it back up. You could probably fill Wembley Stadium with the players that have wasted incredible ability and faded out of the game. Equally, every team in the country has players on their books that have made a footballing career with less talent but the right attitude and lifestyle choices.

We’re not just talking about big lifestyle mistakes like taking drugs. Competition, at all levels of the game, has never been greater. In times gone by a club might have asked around a bit to see if you’re an “alright” type of person and to make sure you’re not a “wrong-un”. Nowadays some clubs employ people to specifically check into a new recruits’ background; if a club is going to sign someone, potentially for a lot of money, they want to know they’re investing wisely!

So, if you have dreams of making it to the highest level, there are certain “basics” that you should commit to getting right. It doesn’t mean living like a monk; you need to live a life too! But, simple things like making sure you’re consistently getting enough sleep, that you’re consuming an appropriate amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates and fats for your needs, that your food intake is generally nutrient dense, that you fuel your performances and recover properly, as well as avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption, can make all the difference!

We can hear you saying “yeah, yeah I know all that, eat healthy, get some sleep, blah blah blah”, but the truth is that so very few people do it. It may be “boring” but it’s where the big results are! We all sort of know the right things to do but actually doing them is another matter altogether. We don’t have a plan, or any way of measuring our progress, so we kind of just drift along doing everything how we always have. In reality, getting these areas of your life sorted does take a little effort, but it isn’t particularly hard – it’s just requires some pointing in the right direction.

Do you need a hand with this? Check out the ways we can help at Player-Pal