Alex Morgan: 3 Lessons Women Can Learn From Her Injury
Oct 20, 2021
Alex Morgan is one of the most inspirational and influential women in soccer of her generation. She’s dazzled fans with her exceptional talent and her fortitude during obstacles including long-standing injuries. For those reasons, she is a figure that all young women soccer players can learn from. Let’s look at some lessons young women who play soccer can learn from her.
1. Lessons About Performance
During the early days of Alex Morgan’s career, she leaned on the same bag tricks for a while. In her case, it was her bursts of speed and high-powered left-footed shots. But like all great players, her game evolved over the years.
She now excels at link-up play, possesses great spatial awareness and is a star finisher. Alex slips into pockets of space to get possession of the ball and she’s adept at creating shooting possibilities for other players. Her tactical game and IQ are on equal footing with her athleticism, making her a beast on the pitch.
It’s this rare combination of tactical and technical ability that’s helped Morgan take the USWNT to the World Cup and made her the face of the Orlando Pride.
What can young women players learn from Morgan?
First and foremost, the first lesson is to always expand your skillset as much as possible - never settle on your gifts. The more skills you bring to the game, the more of a valuable asset you’ll be. With that comes more confidence, more wins, and for some of you, maybe more money.
Second, the next lesson is to never neglect your tactical and decision-making skills. As gifted as Alex Morgan was physical, it was those refined tactical chops that elevated her game. So for all you young women out there, take note. Leveling up your soccer IQ will help you unlock elite performance that technical ability can’t do alone.
2. Lessons About Injury
Alex Morgan knows a thing or two about injuries - she’s dealt with them since high school. She tore her ACL as a high school senior, which in times past, would have been a career-ending injury before her career started. However, she underwent surgery. Alex had to sit out for a year but she made a full recovery and went to play at the University of California. The rest is history.
A few years later at the CONCACAF tournament, Alex sprained her left ankle after colliding with a Guatemalan player in the 37th minute. An MRI revealed the damage wasn’t too severe, but doctors warned her she’d be out for 4-6 weeks. She had injured her ankle before and it left her sidelined for seven months.
Coach Jill Ellis summed the team’s and Alex’ decision:
"After talking with our medical staff and Alex, we all agreed that the best course of action for her is to head home to minimize travel and get into an environment where she can totally focus on recovery."
Notice these words again: “get into an environment where she can totally focus on recovery."
The main takeaway here is when you’re injured, don’t play through it. Give yourself time to rest and recover and only play when you’re fully capable. If you rush into it, you might aggravate an injury that cuts your career short.
Even now, Morgan says she focuses on recovery, whether she’s injured or not with the help of a vegan diet and plenty of sleep.
We’ll also add the importance of wearing soccer protective gear after an injury. Yes, you wear it before too, but it’s especially important to wear high-quality gear after an injury to give the affected area more protection.
3. Lessons About Professionalism
Alex Morgan has reached the absolute peak as a soccer player. Of course, she’s learned a lot about navigating a career in the sport over the years.
For example, her debut on the national team wasn’t filled with riches. Since she was playing for the NCAA at the time - and college players can’t receive checks - she essentially didn’t make any money for her first two years.
“...my bank account in college was pretty grim, and my diet involved ramen noodles or finding the cheapest takeout.”
It was a tough time in her life, but it taught her the value of saving.
She also has been vocal about the inequality women soccer players face when it comes to the gender pay gap and the dangers of playing on artificial turf. She has been honest on both fronts, saying that women’s pay is “not good enough” and “FIFA doesn’t see us as equals” (about turf).
And when she faced criticism for an incident at Disney World, she apologized and owned up to her behavior.
There are a few lessons to unpack here.
1. When it comes to money it’s important to have a realistic view of earnings and finances as a soccer player. Yes, pay issues are a bigger challenge for women (unfairly so), but even men need to handle their finances carefully. If you happen to earn money semi-professionally or even professionally, remember that the money may not arrive the way you think. So it’s wise to learn good saving habits. Even years after her debut, Alex Morgan says she saves 70% of her earnings.
2. When it comes to voicing your concerns or inequalities, don’t hold back. This doesn’t mean speaking to coaches offensively, but it does mean being honest about an issue you have problems with. Whether it’s inequality or dangerous playing conditions, speak up. For example, the USWNT will be able to play on grass at the 2023 World Cup. That was due to women fighting for their right to play on grass, which Alex Morgan was part of. There’s no reason why you can’t advocate for yourself and teammates like this.
3. Lastly, if you ever find yourself at the center of attention for the wrong reasons, take a step back and don’t lash out. If you did something on or off the pitch that is problematic, apologize. It’s the easiest way to bounce back from it, and people will keep you in their good books. Pride will only do the opposite.
Taking a Page Out of Alex Morgan’s Playbook
Alex Morgan is a role model for so many young women in soccer, and for good reason. From the start of her career to her current status in the game, Morgan has made moves that show how to navigate a career in soccer both on and off the pitch. So if you need cues on how to have a successful soccer career, just take a page from Alex Morgan’s career. Her life is a textbook lesson worth following.
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