By Al McDonagh, Founder Captain Jacked

We are all stuck inside. It should seem as though making a structured schedule would be easy, but quite honestly, it is difficult and to some degree we all think “what the hell is the point?”.  True, right now our abilities to travel and assemble have been restricted but that should not be an excuse to just sit around and do nothing.  This is the time we all can use to prepare and better ourselves in a post “Covid-19 era”.

The current state of affairs has granted us the time to really develop our strategies moving forward in our personal lives, athletic endeavors and businesses. We have the time.  We cannot make excuses for lack of time because of our busy schedules.  For far too long, most of us have conveniently hidden behind the mask of “I am too busy”.

For athletes, use this time to prepare for a block of training that will provide you with a broader and stronger base for the time when life gets back to “normal hectic”.  Perhaps work on something that you have felt has been a weakness.  Spend more time examining your past priorities and what you should prioritize moving forward. Although you may not be able to get into the pool or back on to the court, that doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about things that will aid in making you a better athlete and a more well-rounded person.

It is a process to achieve inner excellence. Building mental muscle, like building physical muscle, requires time and effort.  Right now, you have the time and if you so desire, you can make the effort to get better. On a daily basis, zero in on certain tasks and do not let negative thoughts intrude.  It is easy to say to yourself “what’s the point of doing this….I don’t even know when practice will start back up again.”  Your end point should not be when practice begins again.  The end point is infinite when it comes to improving as an athlete and person.

There was a Harvard study that was completed that examined which students were the most successful.  The study found the students who made the most progress were the ones who did the most when school was not in session (i.e. weekends, summers, holidays etc.).  Everyone puts in time when school is in session but who is putting in the time when you are not required to? That really is the challenge all athletes are facing right now.  You are not required to put the time in because all sports have been postponed and/or cancelled.  It won’t always be this way. Will you be one of the successful athletes who used this time to better yourself?  Diligence, perseverance, focus and dedication.  Will these words have special meaning to you after you are back at practice or will it be “business as usual”?

Whose going through grueling workouts?  Who is watching videos to improve technique? I can guarantee you there are athletes out there, right now, who are doing these things on the daily. It is the times when no one is looking that will provide positive net results when everyone is looking.  Who is keeping a regular bed-time schedule? Who is taking their nutrition and hydration seriously during the upcoming weeks and months— long before the upcoming season?  Training, nutrition, rest/recovery, and hydration are not items that you do for a month or two months in preparation for the start of the season.  These are the things you should be doing in preparation to kick ass throughout the season.  You cannot prepare for an upcoming season as if you are cramming for an exam. That’s like starving yourself for 8 weeks, going back to your old bad eating habits and not understanding why you could not keep the weight off.  In order to properly prepare for a season, you need a plan and a system.  If you have never had a plan now is your opportunity to create one, refine it and profit from it.  It is a process that needs to be adhered to throughout the year.  This is a perfect time to begin.  Time can be an ally or an enemy.  We make the choice by what we choose to do with our time.

So, how do you use this particular time to get ahead of the competition? Here are three things smart athletes should be doing to stay and get ahead of the competition.

First, you have to do the work and maintain focus. Pay attention to your stretching and weight training program.  If you actually have a defined program you will continue to gain strength and muscle even through the Covid-19 period. Do work every single day.  Have a plan on how you are going to get better every single day. You need to be unrelenting and self-disciplined regardless of whether your coach is checking in with you or not. Be committed to putting in the work every day.  Good athletes and smart players will capitalize on any additional time they have to enhance their strength and the skill set needed to become better. Doing the work sets you up on the path to achievement.

Second, learn something that is going to make you better.  When you are not only doing something, but you are also learning something you feel like you are making progress.  Progress you will find is a key component to happiness. When you are not making progress, it is difficult to feel good about yourself and where you are headed. The act of learning helps us to feel as though we are making progress in growing. You could be watching videos (other than Tik Tok videos). Watch those things that are going to make you a better “student of the game”.  Those videos cannot only highlight skills that you may need to work on but also, you can watch videos that will aid you on “how you think the game/sport”.  Ultimately, this leads to when you come back to practice you will be a smarter athlete in your particular sport.

Third, smart athletes find ways to contribute to their team and teammates. Success alone is not fulfilling in itself.  Find a way to help somebody else.  Good athletes encourage others.  This is the perfect time to start practicing this so when you are back with your team you will find it easy to encourage everyone.  Check in on teammates during this quarantine. Exercise your “encouragement muscle”. By helping others, you are actually going to feel better.  Encourage teammates—-make a video and share it with your teammates.  Be a source of inspiration to others.     

Remember athletes, only climbers get to the top.  If you are not climbing, you remain in the same place——looking up.

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  • Al McDonagh