Reflection and review are important to any successful training program. You have to have an accurate sense of your training status because we all know, just going through the motions is not the pathway to success.
Like a great training program itself, you will be more effective in your analysis if you use a systematic approach to reviewing your program. This means a system of questions and a systematic time of day to ensure the review gets done completely and thoroughly….daily. When done daily, you can be nimble and responsive as your training needs change.
Here are 5 questions every athlete should be asking themselves every day to make sure they are doing their best for themselves and their team.
1. Did I do my best?
This is a yes or no question. Sometimes, we get so caught up in justifying why we didn’t do our best, we forget to acknowledge we just didn’t give it our all. I’m not asking you to beat yourself up — I’m asking for honesty. If you didn’t give it your all, you have room for improvement tomorrow. At this point, reasons do not matter.
2. How do I feel?
This addresses your physical and mental sense of well-being. Athletes are encouraged to push through the discomfort during training and competition. However, you need to make some time to assess your aches and pains. Are you feeling the beginnings of an injury in the making? If you never take time to listen to the quiet signals of what your body is telling you, the signals will get louder and louder until you’re dealing with an injury that sidelines you.
The same set of assessment skills needs to be applied to your mental state. All of us get burned out on training from time to time but if you start to notice burnout taking a solid hold of your mental state, it’s time to address the cause and take action to alleviate it. Action could be something as simple as making sure you get extra sleep for the next day or too — or as complicated as needing to revising your training schedule to give yourself some deep recovery. Either way, your performance will suffer if you don’t address the issue.
3. How stressed out am I?
Competing priorities add stress exponentially. Although we are used to handling a certain amount of stress, sometimes levels get out of control and end up taking a toll on our bodies. Stress reduces blood flow and increases blood pressure –both of which can impede healing. Stress can cause tight muscles, extra fatigue, and lack of concentration. All of these not only make us less effective athletes but also increase our risk of getting hurt! So pay attention to your stress levels!
4. How did I treat my teammates and coaches?
Even if you compete in an individual sport, you still have a team that supports you. Whether it’s the people you train with, your coaches and trainers, or, in the case of recreational athletes, your family and coworkers. How you treat them matters! One of the greatest skills an athlete can bring to the table is the ability to set aside all non-essential details in pursuit of a goal. Your team IS essential but it’s easy to forget just much of a role your team plays in your success. You don’t want to treat them poorly — you need their support!
5. What do I need to change for tomorrow?
Once you’ve gleaned the data of your day through asking yourself these questions, what are you going to do with it? The only way you’ll improve your athletic outcome is to act on the information you’ve discovered. Based on what you’ve learned, what needs to change tomorrow for you to be able to answer question #1 with a resounding yes and no “yeah but’s”?