Marco Charalambous knows what it takes to be a successful player, having taken part in a UEFA Champions League club's youth system, and the Butler midfielder now applies what he has learned from his past to achieve his present goals.
Charalambous, who scored one goal and provided four assists in 12 games during the 2016 PDL regular season for the Michigan Bucks, has three goals in six games for Butler – currently 6-0-1 and ranked 10th in the latest NSCAA national rankings. Named to the 2015 Big East All-Freshman Team, Charalambous was a part of Cyprus club APOEL FC and became the first player from the APOEL Academy to make his debut for the first team in a UEFA Europa League contest during 2012. The midfielder also is a former member of the U21 Cyprus National Team.
September is Self-Improvement Month, and PDL players and coaches across North America will be working to develop and hone their skills. Focused on the continuous development of the player using the #Path2Pro model, the PDL will take a closer look at how players try to improve their skill sets and physical abilities, as well as look into how coaches try to improve their players, throughout the month of September.
PDL: Describe a typical day in the life of yourself. How often do you train, exercise and practice in a day and week?
MC: For years now, my routine has involved practicing almost every day, some days maybe twice. I do that because I simply love practicing, mostly with the ball at my feet, and I know that with more repetitions I’m improving day by day. My daily routine is to wake up in the morning, go to my classes, then focus on practice and get ready for the next game before closing the day with studying. It’s not an easy schedule due to the large number of games in the fall season and the travel involved, while also having to get all my studying done. However, I feel like now I can balance those two, and I can fit in the extra hours of training into my schedule as I’ve had to go through this since high school when I was training with the first team of APOEL and having to travel with the youth national teams.
PDL: How important is it for you to train, exercise on your own and not with the team? Why?
MC: I believe that if you want to reach the top and be a dominant player, you need to practice and exercise on your own as much as possible. I was part of a Champions League club in Europe, where I saw the sacrifices and extra hours the veteran players put in every day, as I’m also seeing now the extra work players put in in order get drafted in MLS. To reach that level, I have to follow their lead and work on my own as much as possible. Sometimes it might be simple dribbling exercises, sometimes it is conditioning and sometimes it might be going to the gym. In particular, I like training with the ball, and when I’m working on my own, I try to focus on improving certain areas of my game and adding new elements to my game like certain types of finishing.
PDL: What is your favorite training drill? Why?
MC: The training drills I enjoy the most are possession and small-sided games. Keeping possession makes the game more entertaining for you, and I do believe you train better when the sessions are challenging but also fun. Small-sided games help me become more aggressive and quick in my decision making with the ball. Possession drills also improve one’s skills since you try to keep it away from the defenders at all times, not giving them a chance to get it. Small-sided games limit the space that you are playing in and also improve your skills since you have to work in less space. These kind of drills prepare me well for situations in games where teams try to close me down tightly, but I also feel that it will help me in a pro game where spaces are smaller and you have less time on the ball. In general, I love these drills because by making the spaces smaller, we have to play with speed and accuracy. Especially when passing the ball, we have to play with intensity, and when you are going against the same teammates day after day, you need to keep coming up with new solutions when you are in possession.
PDL: What are your eating habits, and is a good diet important to you? What is your favorite meal?
MC: A good diet is important for every athlete. It’s easy for me to follow the nutritionist’s plan because I like eating healthy. Sometimes I might eat some pizza or a burger because I need those extra pounds. I try to eat bananas every day, especially before games. Even at halftime I try to save half a banana. There's a lot of meals that I like, but I love chicken and pasta. It’s great because as an athlete, I get a lot of those.
PDL: What are your fitness habits? Do you have a workout routine?
MC: We get a lot of fitness done with the team, but whenever I feel I need some extra push, I go for a hard run around campus or do some sprints on the field. I always try to get some pushups and core workouts a few times every week. We are working with our strength coaches a few times a week during the season, but when I feel that I need more, I go to the gym and get some other exercises done.
PDL: Do you listen to music when you work out or train? What genre do you enjoy?
MC: Yes, I love listening to music when I work out because it motivates me, and it makes training more fun and enjoyable. I like all kinds of music as long as the songs have a good beat and lyrics. The tempo of training is important to me and listening to music helps me maintain a high tempo. Overall, I mostly listen to house, chill and rap music.
PDL: How many hours do you typically sleep in a night? How important is it for you to get a good night's rest before a game or practice?
MC: I like to get eight to nine hours of sleep every night, but if for whatever reason I don't, I would take a 20-minute nap during the day to keep me going. A good night's rest before a game or practice is very important for me and for every athlete. It helps me be more focused during a game or practice and be more energetic. With the travel involved and academic obligations, it’s not always easy to get eight to nine hours of sleep, but by now, I know how to deal with balancing this.