FAILING TO PREPARE IS PREPARING TO FAIL. SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS WITH THESE FIVE FORMS OF SELF-CARE.
Some athletes will argue that protecting and caring for your overall health is not an essential ingredient to being the best player you can be, but I will always beg to differ. In college I remember always feeling tired and sluggish and it effected my overall mood, ability to handle failure, and motivation to get everything outside of softball done to the same degree of excellence I gave to my sport. I think the summer is a great time to build healthy habits because traditionally there is more time without school. Once you build these habits and start to become more mindful of your overall health, you won’t want to go back! Plus, it might even help you prepare for those big games you have coming up at the end of the season.
- Hydration – I’m sure everyone knows how important hydration is, but it is worth emphasizing every time! There are so many benefits to drinking water and getting proper electrolytes. Not just so you don’t pass out in the heat and humidity you may be playing in, but hydration helps with recovery and injury prevention as well!
- Sleep – Sleep cannot be stressed enough. Going to bed and waking up at consistent times helps your body recover overnight so you are ready to go each day. Especially when you’re playing 3-4 games a day during the summer. Of course, you’ll fall right to sleep at night during tournaments, but all the other days are just as important! (Pro tip: Getting some sunlight in your eyes within the first 30 minutes of waking up actually helps you go to sleep at night!)
- Meditation Before Games – There are so many great meditation apps on the market these days! I suggest picking one and then filtering down to 5-10 minute meditations and choosing one to listen to 20-30 minutes before your team starts warming up. It is the perfect way to practice stilling yourself, becoming aware of your environment, and disciplining your mind before you step onto the field. These meditations don’t even have to be sports-related! Building this habit was one of my favorite parts of my routine when training and playing in the Olympics.
- Healthy Debrief for Post-Game – This one is going to take a lot more thinking and practicing in order to figure out what works best for you and your family/friends. However, it’s worth it! If you haven’t already listened to my mental training lesson on RISR called “The Car Ride Home”, it’s a great place to start. Finding a healthy way to debrief both your team’s performance (in an objective non-judgmental way) and your own performance (in an objective, non-judgmental way) can turn you and your parents’ result-oriented post-game talks into a process-driven and highly motivating conversation!
- Nutrition – Sometimes you have to eat at the snack bar, and I get it! I grew up doing the same thing. My pick is always to lean toward REAL food. But at the least, I just suggest trying to be mindful about making sure you’re getting enough protein, healthy carbs and fats, and lots of fruits and vegetables so your energy can stay consistent throughout the crazy summer season.
These are my top five priority when I’m competing, and I wanted to share them with you too! Let us know how these tips help you in your performance this summer and go get ‘em!