U.S. Women's Soccer Star Carli Lloyd's 17-Year Plan to Become the World's Greatest Athlete
Think the World Cup final was it for her? Think again. This USWNT phenom spilled to us about her fitness goals—and a life plan to be the best
What does it take to be the best? For soccer star Carli Lloyd-the two-time Olympic gold medalist who became an American hero this summer when she propelled the U.S. women's national soccer team to their first World Cup win since 1999-it's simple: a very specific 17-year plan. In fact, the 33-year-old revealed said plan at the sixth annual espnW Women + Sports Summit this month. And apparently, that hat track maneuver that won the World Cup? Well, that was just part of the plan for world domination by 2020. (Seriously.)
But as is true with most uber accomplished people, Lloyd isn't alone in her success: Her coach, James Galanis, plays a huge role too. In 2003, he offered to train Lloyd-then an out-of-shape player who had been cut from the U.S. Under-21 team-for free (she had no money). Why? He saw great potential: "Here was a player who had the advanced skills, and if I could just fix a few areas, I might have a great player on my hands," Galanis says. (Ahem, the USWNT Team Circuit Workout is no joke.)
And years of hard work... well, worked. "She didn't take her weaknesses and improve them. She turned them into her strengths. That's why Carli Lloyd is Carli Lloyd," he says.
So how'd this dyanmic duo do it? And what are they working on in the last five years of the plan? We caught up with Lloyd and Galanis for their secrets. Steal 'em and you too may be one step closer to huge success.
Stay in the Moment
"James had the grand master plan and he would spoon-feed me little by little what I needed to focus on at the time," Lloyd says of her training. "I never looked too far ahead because when you're constantly looking at the end-results, you tend to overlook those important middle bits. Forget the World Cup and the Olympics. He made me stay in the moment."
Take It Slow
"We started out building very slowly on and off the field," says Lloyd. Phase one, which consisted of Lloyd making the national team and scoring the game-winning goal at the 2008 Summer Olympics, took five years to complete. Phase two, which was to earn a consistent starting position within the team and score two game-winning goals at the 2012 Summer Olympics, took another four. "Phase three was about taking over and really separating myself from everyone else," Lloyd says, adding: "It was going to end after the 2016 Summer Olympics, but we feel that we achieved that a year early, so now we're moving on to phase four."
Raise the Bar
"First, James needed to see if I was willing to do things like eat better, take care of my body off the field, and continue to make strides, on my own," says Lloyd. (She was.) "He keeps raising the bar, making the training harder for me. The only way I'm going to grow as a person and a player is if he makes it uncomfortable for me," she says. In fact, she even admitted at the espnW Summit that his workouts bring her to the point of tears at least once a week, but he knows she can handle it. (Ever wonder why we cry?)
Shatter Your Comfort Zone
That's right-Galanis knows just how far to push Lloyd. Intense morning workouts often made her legs feel like Jello and left her wondering, in frustration, how could she swing a second workout that afternoon. But somehow she always found herself working through the discomfort on these double days until she mastered a crazy-hard new skill and eventually started using it in games. Once Galanis saw her getting comfortable with a particularly challenging move, he would then take her out of her comfort zone again with another seemingly impossible drill. (Fun fact: Lloyd hasn't repeated a single workout in 12 years!)
Train Like an Underdog
"It's really fun to have somebody who can push me beyond limits," Lloyd says about her coach's unique strategy. "There's this ongoing theme to continue to train like an underdog, no matter what I've accomplished. In order to make it to the top and be the best ever, you have to keep going." The focus for the next five years will be on attacking in the final third. "I can be better at shooting. I can be better in the air. I can be better with playing through balls. What's really cool is that I finished as a World Cup champion, but now I'm back at training like I'm a rec player."
Celebrate Your Achievements
Don't worry-Galanis also knows how to celebrate achievements along the way. While Lloyd's response just 45 minutes after nabbing the prestigious title was, "When are we training again?", Galanis (admittedly her harshest critic) told her to simply enjoy the win. After all, her goal for the 2016 Olympics in Rio is to take home a third Olympic gold medal-and by the next World Cup in 2019, to be scoring five goals a game. We'd say the girl's earned a little R&R.