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Abby Wambach on the USWNT lesson she got from Mia Hamm

Mia Hamm embraces Abby during a World Cup match with the USWNT in 2003. (A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Abby Wambach learned a lot during her career with the U.S. women’s national team, including one important lesson from Mia Hamm.

The careers of the two USWNT greats overlapped briefly, as Wambach first joined the squad in 2003 and Hamm retired in 2004. In that time, Hamm taught Wambach to pay attention to her weaknesses as a player as much as her strengths, Wambach told Lynn Williams and Sam Mewis on the latest episode of their “Snacks” podcast.

“One of the things that I learned early on in my national team career was from Mia,” Wambach said. “She focused a lot on talking about all of our strengths and all of our weaknesses, like not hiding or shying away from them.”

While Hamm and Wambach could connect based on their strengths, Wambach’s weaknesses were places in which Hamm’s strengths could show up, and vice versa.

“I think that’s one of the most fascinating things. It should be a case study around our team, that it takes a certain kind of psychology to go into an environment day after day, where you’re both required to be a great teammate and also required to be the very best in the world individually,” Wambach continued. “And you’re supposed to believe that about yourself. … Like in order to enter, you have to believe that you are one of the best in the world at what you do.

“Holding both of those things at the same time is where the difference is between players who make rosters and players who don’t. … Because it’s not for everybody. It’s really difficult to be able to say, ‘I’m going out there to be my best, I’m gonna go out there to be my best so that every single player else out here is also being required to be at their best.’ And because of that we’re able to respect each other in a way that’s both competitive and open and loving.”