Learn Soccer from the Pros: Crystal Dunn
Our Learn Soccer from the Pros series continues with an interview with Crystal Dunn of the U.S. Women's National Team and Washington Spirit.
Dunn was selected by Washington as the first overall pick in the 2014 NWSL College Draft after having an incredibly successful college career at the University of North Carolina.
1. What was going through your mind when you received your first U.S. Women's Senior National team call-up back in 2013?
Crystal Dunn: I was so excited! I couldn't believe it. I initially thought it was a prank call from one of my college teammates, so I kept listening to the voicemail multiple times to make sure it was the real deal.
2. What has been the hardest part about the transition in making the jump from the college level to the professional level?
Crystal: I think UNC provided me with a great training platform, but the level of play at the professional stage is a lot quicker. The players are bigger, faster and stronger, which means your technical and tactical ability has to reach a whole new level.
3. Just how important is your preparation off the field (eating right, getting enough sleep, etc.) as a professional player?
Crystal: Growing up and in college, I never thought too much about how important it is to eat the right foods and get the appropriate amount of sleep. I unfortunately had to learn the hard way.
In my final games at UNC, I tore my hamstring and suffered a horrible high ankle sprain all within a month of each other. Before those injuries, I never experienced a serious injury, so I never took recovery as serious as I should have. I think it was only until those moments that I realized the possible consequences of not taking care of your body.
Hopefully, I’m a lot more professional now in how I prepare for the game away from the field.
4. What are some things that you do to get mentally prepared for a game?
Crystal: I love to dance and entertain my teammates. I know everyone prepares for games in their own ways, but for me, it’s all about dancing and getting my teammates in a good mood. I get bad vibes when the locker room is quite so I try to keep things lively.
5. What is the best piece of advice that you've received throughout your career?
Crystal: I’ve received a lot of good advice from so many great people in my life. I’m very hard on myself and I tend to dwell on mistakes for longer than I should, and the best advice I've received was that in soccer, in every play, you take a chance.
Mistakes are going to happen, but with every chance, something great can also happen.