Spring soccer season was just starting. I was ramping during practices, getting ready physically and mentally for the future games ahead of me…….
Luckily, I haven’t caught COVID-19… but I did catch something else that turned me into someone I didn’t recognize.
It started because all my practices and games were cancelled. Everything was cancelled — beach trips, bike rides, sleepovers. As the cases started increasing, I realized there was no hope for spring season. — only online school and jalapeno kettle chips. Every day was the same: wake up late, finish “school” (which was basically a set of worksheets and assignments designed to be easy) and then watch TV.
When I finally noticed the permanent imprint of my body on the couch, I diagnosed myself with a serious case of laziness.
You’re probably wondering: Why is she talking about this when her blog is about Mentality?
All this relates to mentality in every aspect for athletes. I know for a fact that I am not the only one during this pandemic whose lifestyle completely changed, and whose motivation completely vanished.
Yet one afternoon as I sat watching yet another TV episode of The 100, I saw my dogs running around outside the window. I thought to myself, If they can get exercise… why can’t I?
If they’re not lazy, why should I be?
In that moment, I made a conscious decision to make this period of nothing, LITERALLY NOTHING, an opportunity to improve my game.
This is where mentality comes in.
Having that growth mindset to improve in times when goals seem far off and hard work seems pointless(“This is our break time!” “Why should I exercise? We don’t have any games coming up!”), is what makes a good athlete into a great athlete. That is why I decided that I am going to push myself personally, technically, and cardiovascularly, so when this pandemic subsides, I will be strong and ready for the next season. I may even have a leg up on my competition.
These are strange times, and maintaining my dedication required some personal reflection. I asked myself, “What causes me to be lazy? What distracts me?” For me, the number one distraction was my cell phone. I found TikTok addictive, and I didn’t want to spend hours sitting still, watching videos. I didn’t break the addiction completely, but I do use it as motivation to exercise and practice the next day. TV and video games were another vice, and I solved this problem by setting boundaries for how long I could use each app. ScreenTime is a helpful tool for keeping track of how I’m using my time and helping me be more productive.
Reframing my mentality during COVID from “this is a break” to “this is a time to grow” didn’t just cause me to exercise more and practice on my own. It also inspired me to begin exploring in other ways. I’ve been spending more time outside than ever before, doing activities I’ve never done before, from making clay to hiking in nearby preserves. I think I even heard a mountain lion the other evening, and I saw a rattlesnake!
It’s easy to begin reverting back to my lazy, early-pandemic self. . The best way to find dedication in these times of struggle is to have a mental goal. Mental goals are a key to motivation. One of my goals is to have end-of-season fitness at my very first practice. I’ve also been working on mastering several juggling skills, like “Around the World,” in 15-minute daily sessions.Setting goals, in sports and in life, is always a key to growth and motivation. It might be hard, but never give up, always stick to your goal and you will find success.