Learn from the Pros: Taylor Lytle of Sky Blue FC
Welcome to the first of many player interviews here on the Youth Soccer side of Football.com.
In these interviews, we will chat one-on-one with some of the top men's and women's professional soccer players in the United States, as we pick their brain in order to give you the best tips on how to become a better player.
Taylor Lytle is a star midfielder for Sky Blue FC of the National Women's Soccer League, and has also appeared for the U.S Women's National U-23 team.
Taylor took some time to answer a few questions concerning her path as a professional player and how you can apply some of the best advice that she's learned in order to improve your own game.
Also, be sure to keep up with Taylor by following her on Twitter.
1. How were you first introduced to the game of soccer as a child?
Taylor Lytle: I was introduced to the game of soccer through my older brother. He started playing and I wanted to be like him, so I decided that's what I wanted to play.
2. What would you say was the biggest challenge in making the transition into being a professional soccer player?
Taylor: I feel like every time you move up in any sport, the transition is hard. High school to college to professional, the game gets harder and pushes you into becoming an even better player.
I think the biggest challenge for me was that everyone is good at the professional level. Everyone is fast, strong and has good skill, so you have to work even harder at perfecting the things you are good at doing.
3. Some youth players underestimate the importance of off-the-field preparation (what you eat, how much sleep you get, etc.). Just how crucial is that preparation in developing yourself as a player?
Taylor: When I was younger, I believed I could eat whatever I wanted and still be able to play well and recover fully for my next game or practice.
However, the older I have gotten, the more the game has taken a toll on my body and the more I realized how important it was to eat properly and get enough sleep. You want to make sure you perform your best at practice and during games, so eating the proper foods and getting enough sleep are important practices to learn at a young age.
4. A lot of young players have a hard time communicating on the field. What are some good tips that you've learned over the years in terms of being vocal with teammates during a game?
Taylor: Over the years, I've realized that the easiest way to communicate on the field is to be positive. People respond to positive things a lot more than to negative things.
You can be upset with a teammate, but I've realize if you want them to start playing better, yelling at them isn't the way to do it.
5. How about your mental preparation for a game? What are a few things that you focus on when getting ready to take the field?
Taylor: Before I take the field, I like to focus on my individual battles and individual responsibilities. I feel like if you take care of those things, then everything else comes together easily!
6. If you could pinpoint one piece of advice that you've received along the way that really increased your overall growth as a player, what would it be?
Taylor: That you can always be better. Never settle for where you are at and always work harder to be the best.