The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team player found success after falling in love with the game, again.
Smarts: on and off the pitch
Many words can be used to describe Christen Press: Explosive. Dynamic. The future.
But perhaps the most telling word is cerebral. The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team striker is known for her smarts both on and off the pitch. A graduate of Stanford University, Press’s prose is as powerful as her scoring ability. The 26-year-old California native has thoughtfully blogged about the intersection of professional soccer and everyday life.
Ironically, it’s her thoughtfulness that nearly drove her from the game. Far too often Press would be caught overthinking on the pitch.
“I've watched tapes of myself playing in college and I'm mouthing the entire time to my teammates, to myself, like, ‘I should have done this. Why didn't they pass the ball here?’” Press says. “The whole time I'm just thinking, thinking, thinking.”
“There were times in my life when I felt like if I didn’t win, I was not a winner. My entire identity was tied to championships." — Christen Press
Despite her successful stint in college, highlighted by All-America honors and a spot atop Stanford’s all-time scoring list, Press still struggled with the pressures inherent in major athletics.
“There were times in my life when I felt like if I didn’t win, I was not a winner,” Press admits. “My entire identity was tied to championships. I think that comes down to being worried about what the rest of the world thinks and how they treat you and what their perception is of you.”
A passion for soccer
It wasn’t until Press left the U.S. to play professionally overseas that she rediscovered her passion for soccer. “I fell in love with the game when I was finally at a distance from all of the anxiety triggers that I created,” Press says. “That was in Sweden. I played on a team that for the first time wasn’t the best team in the league. We weren’t expected to win. They had no expectations for me. I was just a random California girl who couldn’t speak any Swedish. That lack of expectation and pressure gave me the freedom and spirit to really find my passion for the game again.”
Simplify and go
With peace came scoring — and lots of it. Press became the first American to lead the Swedish professional league in goals. She credits much of her development not just to her newfound liberation in between the lines, but also to a new routine off it.
“I started practicing a lot of meditation at the time,” says Press, who meditates at least once a day. “We stress out over things we can't control. So if something is a stressor, you can just simply take the power away from it by focusing on something else. So that's what you do during your meditation. When thoughts infiltrate your meditation and corrupt it, you simply say, ‘I'm going to stay focused on my mantra,’ which for me is about being calm and strong.”
“If I simply stay in that moment on the pitch and read the game, I can do so much more,” Press says.
Instead of overthinking on the pitch, Press now simplifies things. She concentrates on where the ball is and where she should move on the pitch.
“If I am able to focus on that, I can see so many things happening that I wouldn't have been able to see if I was thinking about what I should have done five passes ago,” Press says. “If I simply stay in that moment on the pitch and read the game, I can do so much more.”
For Press, more in 2015 means a championship title. This summer will be her first major tournament as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team and she couldn’t be more excited.
“It’s not a dream come true. It’s the dream come true," Press says. "It’s the only dream I have ever had.”
Christen Press's Goal Getter Workout