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Tarp's Training Tips

It’s no mystery that an excellent work ethic is one key to making the U.S. Women’s National Team. The national team players are fortunate to get many opportunities to play and train together, and with the start of the new women’s professional league, they will now have an excellent club training environment as well. But there is no doubt that to be an elite player you have to put in a good deal of work on your own.

Case in point: Lindsay Tarpley.

The U.S. midfielder/forward has been putting in the solo work since her high school years when she played basketball in the fall, played soccer on her own during the week (after hoops practice) and traveled from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Detroit on the weekends to play for the Michigan Hawks.

During 2004, the then 20-year-old Tarpley decided she needed to be more consistent on her ball striking using her insteps. She worked on striking the ball almost every day after training. That’s what no one saw. What everyone did see was her spectacular driven shot – with her instep -- from distance in the Olympic gold medal victory over Brazil.

As an elite female player, it will help to find a quality boys team to train with, but many times she will need to train on her own. During some downtime in Portugal, where the USA is preparing for the Algarve Cup, asked Lindsay to share some tips on training by yourself, a task that can often be tedious even for the best players in the world. We’re calling it Tarp’s Training Tips.

“I have a plan of attack so I know exactly what I need to do everyday and how long I should be out there, so not only am I not wasting any time, but I am getting the most out of the time I’m spending. It’s also helps me to not over-train and be sharper, more focused and intense when I am working on what I want to accomplish.”

“This helps in making things fun. Try to think of new and different ways to challenge yourself. When I am kicking against a wall, I compete against myself. I’m always trying to do better than the last time and make have precise touches. It doesn’t always happen, but that’s why I practice. Sometimes, I’ll bring my iPod shuffle along and listen to music while I’m doing fitness and sometimes when I’m striking balls.”

“Even if are on your own, or just kicking the ball with someone else, you can still make it as game-like as possible. A lot of it is visualizing real situations on the field and how I would handle the ball when it comes to me in those situations. Sometimes I imagine a defender and I have to take a touch away from her, or maybe someone is on my back and I have to hold the ball.”

“Practicing things that you are good at is fun, but it’s important to train on things that you need improvement on. You have to make sure your strengths stay your strengths, but at the same time try to improve on your weaknesses. If you are hitting balls on a goal without a goalkeeper, don’t be satisfied if it just goes into the net, try to hit the corners so it would have been a goal if there was a goalkeeper in there or not.”

“This may sound silly, but the more balls you have the more repetition you can get without wasting time chasing balls. A lot of things I do only require one ball, but when I start hitting shots or crosses, the more soccer balls I have the better. If you are a young player, start collecting soccer balls now!”