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Women's National Team, Having The Confidence To Take Risks

"You can't make an impact if you play it safe all the time. Safety is the harbor of ships that will never sail. If you want to experience the thrill, you've got to raise the sail and get out on the high seas. Sure, there's danger, but there's also something greater." - Jill Ellis, USWNT Coach

From 2014 to 2019 Ellis has rebuilt and coached the United States Women's National Team. As the coach, she helped to lead the team to two World Cup victories. To be her best, she knows that she has to believe in her ability to coach and to have the confidence to make critical decisions.

Behind her ability to successfully coach and to make tough decisions is her ability to learn, adapt, and lead. After the 2016 Olympic quarterfinal loss, she had to reinvent the team. Since that time, she has made critical changes to the roster, and created new tactics and training routines. This includes keeping the starting line up in flux vs it being a fixed rotation.

Change isn’t easy. It takes a lot of trust that comes from communication, relationship building, connectedness, and role defining. These are the ingredients that allow the USWNT to compete together and play as a united team.

To be a risk taker doesn’t mean you just go into something blind and go for it, like surfing big waves when you don’t know how to surf.

It’s about taking calculated risks. Calculated risk taking is a skill that needs to be developed. It’s challenging yourself to be comfortable with the uncomfortable because with risk there is always a chance that you will experience success or failure.

Tips for becoming a calculated risk taker:

1. Commitment: it takes practice to improve your odds at risk taking. Start by taking risks in practice and in competition.

2. Failure is part of the process: in the beginning you are likely to experience more failure than success. The knowledge you gain from those experiences will pay off.

3. Approach with a mindset of being challenged by failure. That way, you can problem solve vs take it personally.

4. Reward Analysis, the more you challenge yourself and take risks, the more you learn your personal percentages for success. It’s the idea of risk vs reward. Learning when it’s best to take risks vs just playing your game.

5. Solid foundation of technical, tactical, physical, and mental skills are important for risk taking. Work with your coaches to create a plan for practicing risk taking and to develop the necessary skills.

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