The end of 2020 is approaching, the year that everyone wants to forget. What are the opportunities as this year comes to a close? What should an athlete consider as they are still unable to return to the field? Let’s put a more positive spin to this year as it comes to an end and 2021 begins.
We’ve seen competition has gone away for a majority of the high school athletes, maybe most of the college athletes in most of the country. Earlier this year, we began seeing some problems that have emerged because of the rapid return of professional sports and likely some lack of preparation.
So, what should our athletes and clients be considering?
For you, that might be identifying what you aren’t good at. And maybe if you don’t feel like you can come up with that answer as a young athlete, your coaches are still there to have conversations with. You can ask them: “What are some things you identified in my play that I could be better at? Do I need to get more explosive? Do I need to practice the mental game a little bit more?” Have someone help you steer your efforts during this time to prepare you even more for when you start.
Here’s an example. We work with baseball athletes post-UCL tear, and they have surgery and sometimes 12, 14, or 16 months of rehab before they can get back out on the mound. And what we see statistically is those guys come back throwing harder. Here are these athletes after 12 months off, theoretically, from their sport competition and they’re coming back a better athlete. I would say the reason why this happens is probably not because of the graft itself. It’s the first time in the athlete’s career that they truly took a year to repair their body. And I think that’s comparable to what we are seeing now. Can people take advantage of this time?
But it’s more complicated than that. There’s the development side, where if you know you’ve got a long time off then we can work on that type of development, but then there’s the other side of this coin where many athletes are in limbo and they don’t necessarily know when they’re going to get the call. It could be a month, it could be six months, but regardless it will be very difficult to predict. What could athletes be doing now to prepare them for that situation, no matter what their level might be? We’ve worked with plenty of professional and olympic-level athletes that have a defined pre-season and in-season training program. If your pre-season doesn’t have a definitive end to plan for, programming becomes more challenging. When do you incorporate powerful, explosive movements? Or focus on foundational work and strength building? How do you prepare for the unknown while also dominating the long pre-season preparation?
Firstly, you have to ask yourself what type of athlete you are. Do you involve yourself in more fitness and recreation? Are you more of a ballistic athlete? Because, to be honest, no athlete in the world can stay in the best shape of their life continually. Secondly, you have to focus on both (1) finding a hole in your athletic ability and filling that hole, and (2) staying in reasonable condition so you are ready to flip that switch if you may be called to action in a week or two or three.
There’s a lot of negativity going on out there and some lack of understanding of what the future will look like, but remember that all you can focus on is what you can control. Take the opportunity to really turn around and focus on yourself, get yourself ready, so when that opportunity strikes, you’re ready to step up to the plate and get going. Now more than ever it is important to focus on you as a whole, take advantage of this time and pick up a copy of Russell Wilson’s, “It Takes What It Takes: How to Think Neutrally and Gain Control of Your Life“. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback and Super Bowl champion, shares, “In this book, you’ll learn how to use the same concepts I employ on the field in your life.”