One of the players who consulted with Choi was the most memorable. He is Choi Eun-sang, a sophomore at Kyung Hee University’s Department of Applied Chemistry. Choi once dreamed of becoming a soccer player at Seongnam FC U18 under his professional management. However, he quit soccer at the end of his freshman year in high school. He has been designing a second life through his studies.

Will a student-athlete who only focused on soccer until his first year of high school be able to go to a university in Seoul through his studies? At the time, I thought it was difficult. However, Choi changed the impossible to possible through constant effort and tenacity. I hope Choi’s actual case gives fresh impetus to many student-athletes.

His relationship with Choi touched down in the spring of 2017. Through the introduction of an acquaintance, I conducted personal counseling. We met for the first time at the playground of Choi’s apartment. It can be strange to conduct personal counseling at the playground of the apartment. However, the playground of the apartment at that time was quite quiet and deserted, so it was the best condition for conducting personal counseling. It was quite good enough to have a table and a chair. In 2017, I was in a period of obscurity. I was not in a position to cover the water and fire because it was a time when I was selling products.

The main complaints that Choi made through personal counseling were that he was not able to display his skills at matches, and that he was having difficulties adjusting to his team and changing positions. As a result, he was suffering psychological pain. After the counseling session was over, he conducted a psychological and technical training session at Choi’s home. He conducted about 10 training sessions a week.

He spent time with Choi every weekend morning. He shared various psychological and technical strategies and guided the active use of them. What was surprising about the training was that Choi was very smart. It was different from the players we met. He easily understood difficulties and reinterpreted the core contents of the psychological and technical strategies he had learned. As we spent more time together, he became more and more powerful and opened the door for Choi. The relationship became close enough to share episodes that occurred during his one-week stay at the dorm. As I checked Choi’s mind, I was able to pour more affection into the player.

Choi’s facial expressions gradually brightened and he talked more and more as time passed. As he mastered psychological skills strategies he learned, his mind and thoughts became stronger. In summer, Choi began to display his skills on the field. Especially at the K-League Youth Championship that he took part in in in August, Choi showed his best performance. He was always humble and had a tendency to underestimate himself, but the situation was different then. “Teacher, I did a great job this time. Thank you.” After the phone call with Choi, I felt hot in my heart. At that time, I was a novice sports psychologist. As I did not have much experience, I had no choice but to spend time struggling all the time. But with good results, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Now I thought that Choi could have fun playing soccer. Something unexpectedly happened. “Teacher, I am going to quit soccer.” After hearing something unexpected from Choi, I was shocked. He participated in psychological training harder than anyone else, and now he has started to show his skills, but he couldn’t understand that he quit soccer at all. I was even more surprised because he was a student player under a professional team. At the time, I persuaded Choi to continue playing soccer through experience as a player. It was because I thought that going to college through soccer was more advantageous than studying under the current situation. Choi’s parents also strongly opposed quitting soccer.

Choi could not stop being stubborn. The reason for quitting soccer was explained in detail in the memo. It read, “An uncertain life and future after a soccer player, injuries not knowing when they will come, a low probability of becoming a professional player, a slump, mental pain, participation in various hobbies, increased time spent with family, and who I think I will regret later on.” I did not know that a high school freshman would write such details. That was not the end. The last phrase, “By choosing soccer, you give up the opportunity cost of studying, and the longer you hesitate, the greater the opportunity cost.” I learned this later, but Choi said he had been constantly agonizing over quitting soccer.

Eventually, Choi quit soccer and concentrated on his studies. It has never been easy to keep up with the standards of ordinary students as he has been negligent in his studies. However, Choi made a thorough plan and wisely utilized the learned psychological and technical strategies. The first thing Choi implemented was to study and understand all the mathematics from elementary school to the first year of high school in the winter period. Unlike other subjects, math is related to the content, so he had to start all over again. “It was really hard. The more I studied, the more I saw what I lacked, and I think I persevered while continuing to fill in the gaps. However, it wasn’t as hard as playing soccer. I never thought about playing soccer again.”

Choi became more and more disgusting. He set specific goals that he had to achieve in the 2nd and 3rd grade. To achieve his goals, he set up a macro routine every week and practiced intentional actions. He also put his everything on his studies to the point where he had to finish everything he had planned in a day to fall asleep. Fortunately, he was physically solid not long after he quit playing soccer. It is said that it helped him a lot. The price of hard work was naturally confirmed by the results. He came in 7th in the entire high school 2nd midterm and 5th in the entire final exam. “I think it gave me an opportunity to have confidence in my studies. Now I think I can compete on the same line with regular students. Since then, I have tried harder not to lose my score.” You can see how horrible Choi was back then.

Choi began to learn how to study by himself. He also utilized psychological technology strategies more effectively. Choi was studying at a Gosiwon but changed his mind as the exam period neared. He changed his mind to a study cafe instead of a Gosiwon to study for the examination and created the same atmosphere at the test site. He managed energy levels by experiencing coughing sound of people around him, the sound of chairs and other people’s legs shaking. These environmental factors enabled him to show high concentration at the test site. When solving problems that need to be supplemented or are difficult, he used a stopwatch to check problem solving time, and gradually shortened the time to improve his ability to solve problems.

He was bold on the day of the test as well. Choi cast a spell of victory through positive self-implication before receiving the test paper. After receiving the test paper, he solved the problem according to the pre-planned mental plan. Taking Korean language problems as an example, exam questions consist of literature, non-literature, speechwriting, and grammar, and plan A was to solve the questions in the order of easiest speech, grammar, literature, and non-literature. If grammar or literature problems were difficult, I made a plan B to solve non-literature first and participated in the test. If additional difficult questions were 2 points for difficult questions and 2 points for easy questions, I tried to earn the most time by solving the easy questions first. A pre-planned mental plan will greatly help you minimize mistakes without panicking in the process of taking an exam.

Choi will eventually win first place in the entire school in the midterm exam for his third year of high school. What a surprise and great thing. However, I felt uneasy. This is because one can guess how hard Choi must have fought against him. Afterwards, Choi will enter Kyung Hee University’s Department of Sports Medicine through a comprehensive student record screening. After entering the school, he became interested in sports doping and majored in applied chemistry with a double major. Recently, he transferred to a single major in applied chemistry as his desired career field has changed. Currently, he is preparing to get a job in the secondary battery field.

Choi gave the advice to student-athletes who are currently struggling at a crossroads between soccer and studying. “I want them to judge their own abilities accurately. I think it is important to make wise judgments based on reality rather than having unfounded optimism. I think the more I agonize hard, the less likely I am to regret it. Also, whatever the decision is, I will make sure to do it on my own after trying hard enough not to regret it.”

My relationship with Choi helped me grow up a lot. When I was a novice sports psychology expert, I thought I should give answers to my clients unconditionally. It was a complete error. The sports psychology expert had to give the clients high-quality information and give them the opportunity to make their own choices. I could learn this through personal consultation with Choi. Furthermore, I learned that psychological technology strategies can be of great help not only to sports players but also to students studying. Lastly, I would like to end this article by saying what I want to say to Choi. “I am so proud of Eun-sang. I hope he grows up to be a better person and I will always cheer for him.” 스포츠중계

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