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Full Rony Argueta Q&A

Updated: May 6, 2023

Below is the full Q&A with Rony Argueta. I want to give him a lot of appreciation for his willingness to take the time to answer my questions. Not only did he allow me his time, but his responses were absolute quality that showed intention and thought and because of this, I could not simply choose just a couple and edit them to a shorter post. Thank you Rony “Rocket” Argueta for the use of your time and your thoughtful responses. To my readers, I hope that you enjoy this insight into the mind of a professional soccer player.

Q: What are your thoughts about the overall premise and field of Sport Psychology? A: I believe that there is not enough of it in sport settings i.e., teams, clubs, organizations, etc. The sport psychologists out there offering their services are asking for a hefty price. I personally believe this is important because as a professional footballer (soccer player) I have realized that what differentiates and separates the average from the good and the good from the great comes down mostly to being in a proper state of mind (mindset). I have personally seen teammates (really good players) from year-to-year cave in and loose self-belief and confidence because they were not able to mentally cope with challenges such as injuries, falling out with the coach(es), losing a starting position, etc. On the other hand, I have also seen teammates performing poorly or average and make a mental shift to take their game to another level. I have been on both ends of the spectrum as well and I was able to realize how my mind can either spiral me out and dig me into a never-ending hole or build me up and continue to lift me past my limits. The mind (psychology) is an incredible thing; just as is the human body!

Q: As an athlete, how would you describe the mentality that is needed to play at a high level competitively, and why is it necessary? A: The mentality needed to play at a high level competitively must be open and that of growth. We must have an open mind and accept/take ideas from different people (teammates, coaches, general managers, agents, scouts, presidents, etc.) who may come from different countries and therefore we will experience different cultures, customs, religions, ideas/thoughts about the game/sport and life. We must have a growth mindset (face challenges as they come, do not be afraid to fail, fail forward, learn, and grow). Once we have realized that challenges/obstacles in sport, just like in life, are inevitable, it will make our decision making a lot easier; are we going to grab the bull by the horns or punk out?

Q: Mark Turner, in his Last Word on Soccer farewell, stated of you, “He may be a warrior on the field, but a nicer man off it you won’t meet”. Do you believe that you have contrasting mindsets between playing and life? A: I do believe I have contrasting mindsets between playing and life. On the field, within parameters and with teammates and opponents, I do whatever it takes (within the rules of the game) to WIN. You see, on the field we are in a battle against the opponent. In life, I am looking to help and assist the brother and/or sister next to me. I am looking to do God’s work unto others and serve.

Q: Speaking of the separation of sports and life, are there times that you see sports and your life melding together? Does what is happening in sports impact your mental state in everyday life and vice versa? A: I did hit a point (low one) in my football career where I was not performing well due to lack of self-belief and confidence and I was carrying this over to life outside of the game. Was more reserved, kept to myself, lacked confidence and belief, was not communicating well with others, wasn’t looking to get out of my comfort zone, and in return this affected relationships with friends and family. I have learned to be better at keeping my emotions, feelings, thoughts, issues, etc. about football in my football circle and away from my personal life with friends and family because I have realized that they do not want to talk or deal with football all day, just like I could. LOL.

Q: How important do you believe that your psyche is in confidence, motivation, and overall performance? Do you see a difference between a game or practice on a good mental day vs one where you are mentally struggling? A: To me psyche is extremely important in confidence, motivation, and overall performance. Yes, I can differentiate 100% between a game or practice on a good mental day vs a poor mental day.

Q: Anxiety is something that we talk about a lot for athletes, especially before big games. Have you experienced these before and how did you process it? A: Yes, I have! I look to eliminate all anxious feelings/emotions way before I arrive to the stadium/facility and instead decide to feel amped, pumped, and excited for the opportunity ahead. I do this by preparing all week. Making sure I am training to the best of my ability, pushing myself and teammates, studying/analyzing the upcoming opponent, and taking care of my body and mind through proper sleep, recovery, and nutrition and hobbies I enjoy. If I have done all this throughout the week, I feel prepared and ready to go on match day!

Q: How did your mindset impact your ability to continue to train and play soccer with the goal of becoming a professional despite your setbacks both in college and with your PDL club before signing with the Switchbacks? A: It was mainly my love and passion for the game that kept me going, and still does, despite setbacks and challenges. I have learned more about mindset while in the pro ranks than ever before.

Q: Visualizing a goal or a play is something that many athletes have talked about in how they handled a high-pressure moment. Is this visualization technique something that you have used as well? Have you seen a difference between when you have visualized a scenario and when you have not? A: Yes, I used this a lot as a kid and teenager, consciously visualizing before games. It helped tremendously! Now, before games, I feel like I do it subconsciously leading up to a game; since somehow I’m always thinking about ways to improve not only through self-reflection but also analysis of high level games. During the game, I am constantly visualizing since I am seeing/anticipating/reading the play 1-2 steps ahead.

Q: As an athlete, having injuries are almost a given whether simple strains/sprains or major injuries. What impact do you believe your mind has on your response to injury both in recovery and getting back on the field for the first time? A: I believe our minds have a huge response to injury both in recovery and returning to play. In my opinion, maintaining a positive mind frame through it all sends those positive vibes through our body causing a quicker and more effective recovery and making an easier/smoother transition on the return to play.

Q: For many athletes, their sport is, or can become, their identity. How do you believe this affects them psychologically when deciding about playing through or returning from injuries as well as retirement and what career they pursue after? A: I believe that when athletes make their sport their identity it negatively affects them psychologically. They can force themselves through an injury, which could lead to a career ending injury, which could lead to depression, and ultimately suicide. I believe that making sport an identity does not lead to any good, whether the athlete fails or succeeds within the sport. Life is so much more than sport alone.

Q: Do you believe that an introduction to sports psychology for younger athletes could help improve their growth both as people and athletes? Why or why not? A: I believe that there is a specific age (which I have no idea what that could be) that this should be introduced to them. We do not want to add unnecessary pressure and stress to our youth. We must allow them to enjoy and fall in love with the game by allowing them to play, think, and problem-solve with freedom.

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