VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Olympic Soccer Star Alex Morgan On Her Training Tips
Alex Morgan, 23, put together a stunning 2012 Olympics, with three goals and four assists en route to leading Team USA to its third straight Olympic gold medal. Morgan continued to make big plays, none more memorable than her game-winning goal in Team USA’s overtime semifinal match against Canada. Morgan is currently on a tear, having scored 20 goals in her last 21 games for Team USA and leading the team with 49 total points, thanks to her 12 assists. Here’s to hoping London isn’t the end of a magnificent run, but the start of an historic one.
Born and raised in Diamond Bar, Calif., Morgan displayed a knack for athletic competition. Morgan lettered in both track and volleyball at Diamond Bar High School; however, she had to stop playing those sports in order to focus on soccer. Morgan went on to attend the University of California, where she was named an All Pac-10 player in each of her four years, and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) First Team All-American as a senior. She finished her career third all-time in goals scored (45) and total points (107), a particularly incredible feat considering she missed a number of games her senior season to play for Team USA. Not afraid to flex her intellectual muscle, Morgan was also named All Pac-10 Academic Honorable Mention three times and even graduated early with a degree in Political Economy. Morgan joined Team USA as a reserve in 2010, but earned a starting spot in time for the 2012 Olympics. In her short time on the team, Morgan has already snagged a catchy nickname, “Baby Horse,” a comment on her youth and running style that resembles a gallop. Admired not only for her drive and athleticism, Morgan has also garnered praise for her stunning looks, which were on display after she posed for Sports Illustrated’s February swimsuit issue, in which she wore nothing but body paint.
Morgan’s past successes represent a series of calculated moves to ensure she achieved her ultimate dream of playing for Team USA. “I’ve dreamt of this ever since I was a really young girl,” Morgan told Uinterview exclusively. “I’ve looked up to the 1999 World Cup team and the national team since then, so it’s definitely been a dream of mine to get to where I am today …. But I really did work hard to get to where I am today, I really put in all of the effort and focused in school and made sure my priorities were right to be ready for the World Cup and then on from there. I’ve been taking small steps each year and I’m really happy with where I am leading into the Olympics.”
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Preparing for the games, I definitely try to have a healthy diet, whether that’s eating blueberries at breakfast or putting avocado in my salads. It’s super foods like that that are helping my diet. After the Olympics, I’m really looking forward to splurging on a hamburger and some really fatty desert.
Our fitness coach, Dawn Scott, she wants us to be in top shape for the Olympics, and in order to do that we wear heart rate monitors and GPS trackers in every practice and every game. That helps monitor how much we’re in our top heart rate zone and how much we’re running. That helps her see how much recovery we should have and how much our bodies need to recover in order for the next training session. I think recovery is almost the most important part of building fitness because, if you never recover your muscles, you’re not ever going to be at that line of building fitness. You’re always going to break your muscles down and never give them time to recover. For the national team, that’s what fitness is almost all about — building it up. For us, something that we always do is a little extra fitness positionally after practice. Whether it’s short bursts, short sprinting bursts, for midfielders, longer strides, it’s really positional for us.
I’ve dreamt of this ever since I was a really young girl, I’ve looked up to the ’99 World Cup Team, the national team since then. It’s definitely been a dream of mine just to get to where I am today. Soccer has been a passion of mine for so long. I’m really happy for where I am today, but I really did work hard to get to where I am today. I put in all the effort, focused in school, made sure my priorities were right to be ready for the World Cup, and on from there, it’s been sort of taking small steps each year, and I’m really happy with where I am heading into the Olympics.
Mentally, I like to do a lot of visualization before the game. That probably includes me sitting in the locker by myself, whether I have headphones over my ears, or just in a quiet space. I try to just calm my nerves a little bit and really imagine myself in the game, so when I do get in the game I get a lot more comfortable, like I’ve felt like I’ve gone through that before. That’s something that really helps me feel calm and composed. I do some other strategies, like during the U21 Cup, we did have a sports psychologist that helped us with team bonding activities, feeling comfortable around everyone that you’re with every day, because you do spend more time with your team than away from your team. It’s so important to keep that team chemistry alive.
I think that falling short at the World Cup and getting the silver medal did make us a little bit bitter, and wanting to prepare even more for the Olympics. We had no regrets coming out of the World Cup, and we do believe that we played some really great soccer in the final game and leading up to the finals. But, at the same time, we didn’t come up with the gold medal so we’re not satisfied and we won’t be until we get the gold medal in the Olympics.