Kitolano (19), a midfielder signed at 16 with the club Odd F.K. and with 3 seasons so far on the first team, is at the start of his career doing what he loves - playing football!
- I grew up playing football with my brothers, and fell in love with the game. For me football is pure joy, when you're playing you just forget everything else. It's a feeling I still get with every game, the joy of playing is why I want to do this.
This is what's it's like to be a pro
- To this day, that first home game debut for Odd, that feeling of being part of a professional team, coming out on the pitch, that was the best feeling in the world. It was like: wow, so this is what it's actually like being a pro.
Going pro and playing for the first team, also meant learning a whole other way of structured training.
- You learn so much when you're actually "working", being part of that professional environment is completely different. There are so many things that you just don't know when you're 13-14 years old.
Kitolano mentions examples like focusing on details of the game and understanding the tactics of football in a whole different way through mental and cognitive training.
- Before I was signed, I focused a whole lot on my technical skills, how to make the perfect pass, how to use my feet and so on. I didn't really focus on the mental stuff or the little details. I think the player who starts with those things earlier, would go on to be an amazing player even faster.
- I've had a huge improvement every year since I became a pro. I see changes from year to year, thinking and playing in a whole new way.
Staying match ready during injury and Covid-lockdowns
2020 saw a massive global upheaval of normal, structured team activities, league games, and life in general due to the Covid-19 pandemic and global lockdowns. Kitolano was also going through a period of injury just as the first lockdowns were initiated.
- I contracted an injury in March, which meant I was in physical rehabilitation for about 2 months. That was when I was introduced to The Be Your Best Trainer from one of the mental coaches and the rest of the coaching staff at Odd, as a tool to maintain my mental match readiness.
During that initial period of injury and with the lockdowns that followed, Kitolano made frequent use of The Be Your Best Trainer.
- At the start, I would use it 2 times a day. It was really good to have it during injury and corona-lockdowns. I noticed early that I achieved a completely different understanding of the entire game.
- I was able to maintain that mental match readiness throughout the entire period. The first time I tried the tool, was also the first time I tried VR, which was kind of an "aha"-moment. Training with VR is really cool, I really feel that I'm there on the pitch playing a real match.
- Match situations I recognise
Kitolano varies between the different midfielder-positions options when training with Be Your Best, and focuses on scanning as much as possible and taking in as much information that he can.
- I focus mostly on getting an overview of the game and what's happening, gaining more understanding of timing. Now it's almost automatic, it comes naturally.
- I train with it regularly before team activities and before matches, but obviously I don't have the time to train 2 times a day like I did during injury and lockdown. However, I feel that training more often is the most beneficial for me.
We generally recommend using The Be Your Best Trainer 1-3 times a week for 15-20 minutes per session, so Kitolano is still well within those limits.
- The greatest takeaway from using The Be Your Best Trainer has to be the simulation of real match situations. These are situations that I recognise and that I can relate to. I truly feel like I'm playing a real match.
With a new exciting season on the horizon, we'll continue to follow Kitolano's efforts in the new year!