There are 365 days a year. Each of those days are spent in a season; Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer. There’s not a day in the year that doesn’t fall into one of these four seasons. The last day of Summer, invites the first day of Fall, the last day of Fall invites the first day of Winter and so on. Being an athlete is no different. Every day of your year is spent in a season. There’s no day that goes unaccounted for and contrary to popular belief, there is no off-season.
Each day has a purpose and it’s up to you to assure that no day goes by wasted. Being an athlete is about consistency over intensity. It’s understanding that each day might be different but it’s that mindset of getting 1% better every single day. There is a power in the tiny gains and over time those tiny gains add up to huge improvements. So use each day to get better, even if it's just a tiny bit better. You have 365 days and each one of them needs to be spent in one of the three seasons; Refresh & Reflect Season, Grit & Gain Season, or Perform & Protect Season. If you want to be the best, you have to use every day as an opportunity to get better.
Refresh & Reflect Season
Refresh- There are times in the year when you need to slow down and refresh both your mind and your body. A time to heal minor injuries and allow soreness to leave. Maybe, this means exchanging intense training sessions with active recovery workouts. There are days when our bodies truly need a rest. However, when we need to rejuvenate our bodies that doesn’t mean it’s a free pass to do nothing. There are many different forms of active recovery such as, yoga, stretching, going for walks, light swimming etc. This is the best way to allow your body the time it needs to recover but also staying active and not just finding yourself on the couch with a bag of potato chips, binge watching Netflix. Nutrition plays a huge role in the refreshing process. During this time when you are less active be sure that you are fueling your body with the proper nutrients and drinking plenty of WATER.
The second part of Refresh is dedicated to the mind. If we only rejuvenate our body during this time, we are only doing half the job. Our demands from our sport can be mentally draining. In this season we need to assure that we spend the same, if not more, time preparing our minds for the upcoming season. Save some time in your day for things that you enjoy or bring you peace. If that’s reading a book, read a book, if that’s playing video games, play video games. The goal of this season is to rejuvenate our body and our mind so that we can tackle the next season at 110%. So do the things that make you feel happy and at peace and will create the strongest foundation to be at your best self when entering the next season.
Reflect- Reflect is the most critical part of this season because without it, you move forward without direction. This requires some self-reflection, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Self-reflection is taking a moment to step away from everything else and ask yourself what do you need to work on? What did you struggle with in your past season? What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? Self-reflection is vital for growth. Not only that, but when you take that moment for self-reflection and you answer some difficult questions, you will discover your goals and all the things you hope to accomplish. You will have now established what direction you want to go but that’s just the first step. The next step is discovering HOW you will get from where you are now, to where you want to be. This is the season to create your game plan. What resources will you use to better yourself? Do you have a trainer? What do you have in place to work on your weaknesses? How do you plan to maximize your strengths? Do you have access to a gym? That can be a lot to process, so it can be helpful to break it down into smaller steps as well. Small To Do Lists. What will your weekly goals look like? What will your daily goals look like? Don’t get me wrong, this is no easy task but neither is the task of winning a championship.
Grit & Gain Season
Grit- There is grit and there is grind. Grit is when you dig from within to accomplish something for yourself and grind is when you dig from within to accomplish something for someone else. This season is about grit, not grind. This season is all about YOU. It's a time where the good become great and the great become unstoppable. This season is where you truly separate yourself. Everyone goes to practice. Everyone plays games. Everyone is on an AAU team. The question is, what are you doing that others aren’t? If you walk the same path as the athlete next to you, why would you believe that you will come out ahead of them? We never want to compare ourselves to anyone else and that's the exact reason why we shouldn’t replicate the way others work. If you want to be special or a difference maker, you have to be willing to do the things that others aren’t. You have to have grit. It has to come from within you. You have to be willing to work hard everyday for you. Not for your coach, not for your teammates, not for your parents but for you and YOUR goals. If you want something badly enough you have to be willing to put in the work and make the sacrifices. There are no shortcuts towards your goals so go after them. Be gritty.
Gain- This is the season of investing. Every day you spend in this season is an investment for the future. That extra shooting workout, the early morning lift and all the unseen hours in the gym. Every minute, every workout is an investment for your future self. This is when you look into the mirror and tell yourself, “I believe in you and I believe you can accomplish anything.” There are times when you will make sacrifices during this season. Maybe you can’t hang out with friends as often or you have to miss out on social events but this season isn’t about that. This season is about you dedicating your time and energy into your goals. It's the time you take your weaknesses and you turn them into strengths. Invest in yourself because it’s the one investment you will never regret.
Perform & Protect Season
Perform- The moment we have all been waiting for, it's the season to perform. It’s the season that makes it all make sense. The season that reminds us why we work so incredibly hard year round. The one that gives us our chance at a championship. It’s a time of trust. Trusting in your teammates and trusting in yourself. You have put in the hard work and now time to showcase it and believe in it. Trust that the work you put in is enough. Know that you didn’t leave any stone unturned. You are ready. This is the time that you dial in and focus on the task at hand– win games. That’s the only goal that matters. So embrace your role and get ready to perform wherever and however you are asked. Never let your guard down because you never know when your number will be called. Remember, this isn’t a season of gains but more so a season of maintaining. Take care of your body and fall in love with ice baths and the foam roller. Keep your body prepared for battle, keep your fitness high and most importantly continue to make those small investments.
Protect- Protect your investments. Your season is going to be filled with ups and downs but don’t let those ups and downs take away from your investments. There will be games you may earn a lot of minutes and then there might be games that you find yourself deep bench. Your team could win a huge game and then turn around and loose a game they shouldn’t have. There are going to be hard practices, you will get yelled at and you will be challenged. Through it all, you have to remember to protect your investments. You didn’t make all those gains/investments to have them ripped away the second one thing doesn’t go your way. Your investments aren’t going anywhere and you have to make sure that you still know their value. If you are a great shooter and you find yourself in a shooting slump, guess what! You didn’t forget how to shoot. You either allowed your mind or an outside source to take your investment from you. Believe in your investments. Investments creates preparation and preparation creates confidence. You’ve earned the right to be confident so don’t let anyone take that confidence from you. This is a season of protecting your investments.
The thing about seasons is they are always changing and with every changing season, we are also changing. We are growing and we are learning. We are becoming better teammates, athletes and people. There is no season greater than the current season, so make sure that you enjoy it and take full advantage of what the season brings. There will be good days and there will be bad days but through it all never stop working toward your goals. Each day comes with new opportunities and each new opportunity is a chance to get better. Continue to invest in yourself and don’t let any day go wasted. There is no offseason when you are chasing greatness.
- Laken James