Do the Off-Season or COVID Restrictions Have You Down? Here are Three Tips from Olympic Medalist, Joey Lye, Who Competed in Tokyo2020 (in 2021)!
Training in the off-season can be daunting - sometimes the season feels so far away and you might wonder why “today” even matters. COVID restrictions can have a similar effect, especially if it’s uncertain if your season will start on time, be canceled during, or happen at all.
Believe me, training for Tokyo was challenging as it was. When The Games were delayed a year, and the media was pushing articles of doubt they would even happen, the challenge grew immensely.
The tiny doubting voice that sat in the back of my brain weighed me down and gave me more reasons NOT to stay the course; I didn’t just stay the course, I crushed the course.
- Learn About Yourself
- Mix Things Up
- Lean on Your People
1- Learn About Yourself
Understanding your limits, what gets you going, and what helps you recharge your batteries can be extremely impactful.
Do you know what puts you in a bad mood, what motivates you, or WHY you are chasing the goals you are chasing? If not, I challenge you to sit in these questions for a moment and write down, or type out, the answers you come up with.
Next, I challenge you to work on your awareness when your mood changes and keep track of what has caused it to change. Gaining a deeper understanding of the things that influence your mood will allow you to set boundaries (limit the activities/situations/etc that bring you down), feel more energized or motivated (by being intentional about surrounding yourself with people/IG feeds/reminders/notes to yourself/etc that positively impact you), and to have a “why” (aka your biggest reasons) to fall back on when times get tough.
Once I figured out how draining it was for me to not tackle my full to-do list during lockdown, I started reducing it significantly (some days my to-do list consisted only of “5 minutes of mindfulness practice”) and I began feeling more accomplished. As a result, my mood improved, I started feeling more motivated, and I ended up tackling more things.
Once you’ve increased your self-awareness, what can you add, remove, or alter in your daily routine that will benefit you?
2- Mix Things Up
Growing up, cross-training was one of the best things for me as an athlete and as a human. Not only was I challenged in new ways, both mentally and physically, but it also gave me a moment to step away from a sport.
Taking a step back from your primary sport during the off-season to do something else active (or taking at least a full day a week OFF during the season) has immense benefits. I played two sports in college and FOUR sports in high school and still managed to find my way to the Olympic podium.
Taking time to breathe, to mentally recharge, and finding ways to stay fit outside of your primary sport will leave you MORE excited to get back to training, MORE excited for the season to start, and MORE likely to make faster gains/improvements. I would be willing to bet you’ll be LESS likely to see burnout, experience overuse injuries, or lack improvement. If you’re finding it tough to push through an off-season, or a lock-down, what other opportunities could you open your eyes to?
Perhaps there is a new activity you can try, a different skill you can focus on, a chronic nagging area you can correct, or mental skills you can sharpen.
Some of the things I did during the Olympic delay were: Took time off from softball training, added specific-to-me rehab exercises to my daily routine, worked on my visualization skills, practiced mindfulness, left my career to juggle less and to focus full-time on training (a leap of faith The Games would happen in 2021!), learned more about my own anatomy, implemented technology into my skills training, learned/networked through online workshops and courses, and rested. I would never wish a pandemic on the world, I would wish for that extra year of growth/training/exploration EVERY TIME.
3- Lean on Your People
Number three may be the most straightforward of my suggestions yet I think it was the most impactful through the toughest times. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with others, even one person, is important; we are not meant to navigate life, or sport, alone.
It is mind-boggling-impactful to have even one person who knows what you might need from them when you’re going through a rough patch or feeling unmotivated. Is there someone you can reach out to who is training for the same thing, experiencing a similar struggle, or has been where you want to go? I challenge you to reach out. People want to help.
Sometimes during that extra year, I needed a hug…other times I needed a kick in the butt. There were moments I needed to vent to a teammate, and just have her listen so I could breathe and move on from dwelling on something out of my control, and there were times I wanted to celebrate a small victory with someone. Who are the people that can be there for you in these moments? A family member, a friend, a therapist, a teammate, a coach, and/or a classmate are good options of people to call, email, or text if you don’t think you have someone who fits this role quite yet.
“It takes a village” is no lie. Life is not an exception and sports sure aren’t either!
I hope these three concepts help you to stay the course as you battle through this off-season and/or the current restrictions. You are not alone in this, you are stronger than you think, and a small change today can have a massive impact down the road.
All the best in your efforts, big or small, to crush today!
Joey Lye, OLY
Did you know Joey offers coaching, inspiration, and other great advice – contact Joey directly @ joey-lye.com (tell her Sniper Skin sent you)!