Learn Soccer From the Pros: Jen Hoy
Our Learn From the Pros series continues with an interview with Jen Hoy of the Chicago Red Stars.
After graduating from Princeton in 2012, she was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 NWSL College Draft by the Red Stars. She scored four goals during the 2014 NWSL season and looks to have an extremely bright future ahead.
You can follow her on Twitter @Jenhoy2.
1. When you were a kid who were some of your favorite soccer players? And who are some of your current favorites to watch?
Jen Hoy: Kristine Lilly and Lionel Messi.
2. You attended college at Princeton, so you clearly had a difficult academic schedule. What were some things that you learned about balancing the demand of your academic and soccer requirements?
Jen: The combination was overwhelming at times, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Over time I learned that (1) you shouldn’t take life too seriously but live in the moment and enjoy everything that life throws at you, (2) take advantage of all the resources available to you and (3) always embrace new opportunities to grow and meet new people.
It’s easy to lose perspective with such a demanding schedule, but a healthy balance is definitely possible and it was much easier to find and maintain that balance when I kept these things in mind.
3. What was the most difficult challenge that you faced in transitioning from college soccer to professional soccer?
Jen: Once I got to the professional level I began to fully understand the importance of the mental aspect of the game. This is what separates the good players from the best, and I am always working to develop this part of my game.
4. What are a few things that you focus on in terms of mental preparation as you're about to take the field?
Jen: By the time I take the field I have already mentally prepared for the game, so at that point I just try to enjoy the moment, the excitement and the nerves. Having fun and joking around with my teammates is what I like to do right before the game. It helps me relax.
5. Youth players may not yet understand the importance of off-the-field preparation, so just important is taking care of your body, getting enough sleep, etc. in helping you be the best player that you can?
Jen: Absolutely! Treating my body well is part of my job and I take this very seriously. Your body is like a machine, so if you don’t fuel it properly, then you will be unable to reach your potential or maximize your output on the field. Optimal performance is a mix of many things, mainly proper hydration, nutrition, sleep and mental preparation.
There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes that no one sees. Another important variable for me is technical work. It’s always important to get additional touches on the ball to help develop as a player. Doing all of these things helps to build confidence.
6. What's the best piece of advice that you've received throughout your career?
Jen: This advice is very simple, but for me it is incredibly powerful. There is an endless number of variables that you cannot control – the weather, the quality of the field, etc. – but the one that you can control, no matter what, is your effort. There is no excuse for giving anything less than 100%.