Most athletes do not have a private coach. There might be a team coach depending on your sport or age group but most of us are going it alone. And it is tough.
With a few decades under my belt, this is what I have learned to be true:
- Your body is breakable so treat it very well. No one else is going to tell you when to take a break or even protect you from your worse enemy (you).
- No one will push you harder than you. That space inside your head gives more echoing cheers and jeers than the grandest of stadiums.
- Balancing between these two things is a constant competition every single training day.
In order to feel that you deserve to be at the starting line, you must have a plan which pushes and pulls your mind and body through all the parts of your training.
Break your week down into different workouts which include:
- Test Day – try to match the hour with your competition which could mean morning or evening. Time zones are not as important as timing the test to match with how much bed rest, meals, or daylight you will have on game day. Test everything until you have the confidence that you need.
- control – everything possible such as surface, temperature, sunlight
- timing – use stop clock, proper start rules, transitions
- kit – all clothing, accessories, equipment
- Technique Day – no matter the years of practice, we must all spend time and energy are perfecting our craft. Never be complacent. Your technique will be your strongest ally when it matters if you invest in it on a weekly basis.
- SP – Slow & Perfect is when the movements are broken down into the smallest pieces and even chunk is given attention for complete understanding and polishing. If there is doubt then there is weakness. Fix it.
- repetition – muscle memory is not really true rather we build myelin around our neurones which allow movements to be transmitted faster and faster with each completion. Both mental and physical movements count for myelin so be very attentive in repeating only the very best quality that you can. Don’t get good at doing mistakes. Stop immediately. Go slow until you get it then start repeating.
- video – seeing yourself on video can be shocking. Use this is learn and improve. Ask questions. Reach out online to get advice. And most of all keep tracking as over time you will see improvements and the videos will prove it.
- Endurance Day – probably the most boring and time consuming but very valuable to increasing resistance and mental fatigue
- fast – when you go fast the mistakes are very noticeable. See what drop in your form and you will immediately know what you need to work on.
- long – which goes first? Your mind or your body? Knowing the difference will help you move forward and to gain grit when things get tough.
- physical – pushing it hard and knowing it is a thrill which athletes cherish. If you never do it then you will always be curious.
- Fun Day – without a doubt this can be the biggest challenge of your week. We forget to have fun when we play our sport but it is imperative to keep perspective at all levels.
- competitive – there will always be someone better so go find out who it is and challenge them.
- games – be creative. As long as you are working on a skill that is transferable then the game is valid. Laughter is better mixed with sweat. eg. Game of X’s
- Cross Training Day – if your week has room for a full cycle of all these days then try to add another safe sport into your mix. Try to find something which trains opposite movements such as a symmetrical front crawl swim for a asymmetrical tennis player or some long distance hiking for a racing pilot normally trapped in a confined space.
These different training days also prevent boredom. Get a buddy if you can for some of the days or make it solo if you normally have group trainings.
Above all, stay safe and listen to both your mind and body.