I'm not lazy, I’m just on energy saving mode...
Being an elite athlete (to be real) at times feels like the season’s all roll into one. Now, don’t get me wrong its the best thing in the world making it into a SSN Team and playing for your country, I wouldn’t couldn’t change it for the world. Playing for your country is living my dream, I am super grateful and it is the highest honour. But I do also want to keep it real with you guys that as an elite athlete I found the full on calendar for the year one of the hardest things. To keep going without much of an off-season each year is tough.
Simply due to commitments and timings of competitions you’d be lucky to have 2 weeks (oﬀ actual switch oﬀ time) a year to ‘have an oﬀ season’, rest and be a normal human for a little while. I wouldn’t trade it for the other, absolutely not and it is incredible what the human body can do. But it also taught me that as much as it is priority to get ﬁt and strong and ready for the next season. It is just as important to have a proper ‘break’ , ‘oﬀ season’ ‘ time away’, whatever you like to call it.
I've learnt how important a break is incredibly beneﬁcial for health & well-being. It gives us a chance to reﬂect and is an opportunity to process and learn all the things life has thrown at us the previous 6-8 months. This time away allows us to reﬂect and learn from past experiences——>personal growth. It allows us time to ‘look back’ and be proud of what we’ve achieved. It also gives us time to look back and learn how we can do things better, if we ﬁnd ourselves in a similar situation in the future.
Generally when you're in ‘the bubble’, you don’t have the opportunity to look at what you're doing and appreciate it, because you're in it, doing it. Time away or having a break also gives us a chance to gain clarity, to set new goals and intentions going forward. Use this time wisely to learn about what drives you. I've learnt that I am a very value’s driven person. e.g Winning a gold medal wouldn’t be very fulﬁlling for me if I didn’t get it by staying true to my own personal values. It just wouldn’t be the same. Time away allows me to set personal and professional goals going forward and reﬂect if I have lived up to them or not.
Learn what gets you up and about. What drives and motivates you most.
All these things are integral part of ‘success’ and having an fulﬁlling experience (recognise/reﬂect on what will make it that for you). Having a couple of weeks to simply to ‘switch oﬀ’ is really just as important as the training part. It gives your mind, body and soul a second to chill out and try some diﬀerent activities you might enjoy. Immediately post season is a great opportunity to set a guilt free period to do whatever it is your little heart desires!! Book a little get away holiday or a staycation is also a winner! Make sure you use this time to recharge time, spend time with yourself, friends/family and try new things. Which helps you to be a more ‘well rounded’ human, not just a good netball player. Which is really important (I’ll go further into this on another blog).
My top list of new things to try out in the oﬀ season :
- Reading a new book
- Bike Riding
- Bush walking
- Take a day trip somewhere new
- Rock climbing
- Morning dip in the ocean each day
- Colouring in - Drawing - new ‘hands on project’
- Spring clean; clean out of the cupboards/ closet!
- Go to a concert
- Eat out somewhere diﬀerent
- Mindfulness App 10mins a day- Go crazy have a midday nap :) !
- Go for a run/walk in a new place
- Go out for a boogie with some friends.
The list is endless ……….
Whether you realise it or not this time is essential to take your focus somewhere else, this will inherently help you to recharge the batteries after a big season. Its a long season and hard to sustain a high level of performance the whole year. This break pays dividends particularly coming into your last couple of months of next years season. Everything is all about balance, to much of one thing can get monotonous, boring and not that great for you. Whatever that is. Have time away, so when you come back into it, you’ll love it that bit more. You may even gain a diﬀerent or new perspective which will in the end make you a better netballer. Its funny how sometimes when you do the same thing over and over ,you get the same result.
But when you go away, have a break and then come back , you can gain a whole new perspective on something. Sometimes a better and evolved perspective in your approach.It’s kind of cool when that happens .e.g. one year we always did this drill at training, I never really fully understood the concept of why we did it or what I was actually meant to be ‘seeing’. We ﬁnished the season, I had a pretty fulﬁlling and productive oﬀ-season. Then coming back the following year, the ﬁrst time we did the drill as a team, it was like I had a light bulb moment, it ﬁnally clicked together and actually made sense. I saw it from a completely diﬀerent perspective and it all unfolded so clearly in front of me. Another example of a forced break was when I missed out on a team and at the time I was devastated I didn’t get selected. I would have no netball commitments for the rest of the year, which was almost over 4 months. It crushed me initially. Looking back now though it was the best thing that could of happened to me.
It gave me a chance to really rest and rejuvenate. Once I felt like I was ready and motivated to get back into training, I had a great amount of time on my side to get stuck into my pre-season training. The following season I had an unreal year and played so well! I set my intentions of what I wanted to achieve in this period. I used the ‘set back/non selection” to beneﬁt me the most. I got the chance to have a break, to freshen up and become really clear on what I wanted.
I then got super ﬁt, worked on some really speciﬁc areas of my game and came back a better player! It was a really cool learning to me about how time away can do wonders to set us up for the next challenge, it really depends on how we look at it. So yes, pre-season is very important to put in the work but that time away and time to try new things is also just as important to have sustained success.
A few of my favourite quotes to ﬁnish:
“Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you”
“Tennis is all about mental toughness, and you have to keep your head in the game. I make time to relax away from the competition pressure’s ,travel and intense training schedules to make sure i’m looking after myself. Taking time out with family and friends helps maintain the work-life balance everyone needs”
Take some time out for yourself this week.