Learn Soccer from the Pros: Vanessa DiBernardo
Our Learn from the Pros series continues with a chat with Vanessa DiBernardo of the Chicago Red Stars.
She has accomplished quite a lot in her young career, including being a part of the United States team that won the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Japan.
You can follow her on Twitter @vdibernardo20.
1. How were you first introduced to the game of soccer?
Vanessa DiBernardo: I started playing soccer at a young age. I have an older sister, and when my parents got her involved with soccer, I also got involved. I come from a big soccer family as well. My father played professional soccer, so I was heavily involved and around soccer when I was a kid. He is definitely the one who introduced the sport to me and got me involved.
2. What was the experience like winning the U-20 World Cup? Was that an incredible learning experience for you as a player?
Vanessa: Winning the U-20 World Cup is unforgettable. It was a great experience for me as a player, but also as a person. It's hard to put into words the experience I had, or how much I enjoyed it. I learned a tremendous amount during the cycle and was constantly surrounded by high-class players and coaches.
3. What has been the hardest part about the transition in making the jump from the college level to the professional level?
Vanessa: There are a few things that I have learned about the transition. The mental part of the game is a lot more significant, and the physical side was also a transition for me. I have realized I need to become physically stronger to hold my ground and be able to sustain a season.
4. What are some of the things that you do to get mentally prepared for a game? Are there any specific habits or areas that you focus on before you get ready to take the field?
Vanessa: There really isn't anything I do consistently before a game. I like to relax as much as I can and enjoy the time with my teammates in the locker room before we take the field.
5. I'm sure you've received a ton of great advice along the way, but what would you say is the best tip or piece of advice you've received that has helped you elevate your game even further?
Vanessa: The best advice I have received is to enjoy playing the game. If you don't enjoy what you're spending hours and hours doing you're not going to perform up to your capability. Remembering to have fun playing the sport you grew up competing in is something that keeps me going.
6. For youth players that are really wanting to take that next step at the midfielder position, what are a few of the key fundamentals that they should work on each day?
Vanessa: Being technically sharp is something that is important. At the next level you don't have much time before a defender comes to close you down, so making sure you have good skills will help you play faster and be successful.