What It Takes.

One of the most common questions I get asked is “what advice would you give young kids trying to succeed?”.

I always say number one is hard work.  Hard work is NOT just showing up to practice for two hours and being satisfied with getting through it.  Hard work IS showing up to practice a half hour early to work on stuff you’re not satisfied with. Then while in practice trying to be the best in every single drill and striving to be perfect at every single skill.  You should be pissed if you mess up, and definitely, absolutely, positively NEVER EVER laugh if you make a mistake! Hard work IS running sprints at the park on your day off to become faster than your teammates and opponents who AREN’T putting in the extra work.  Hard work IS hitting that wall, being completely exhausted, and finding your fourth/fifth wind to accomplish the goals in a drill.  It’s being determined to lift the most in the weight room, run the mile the fastest, and jump the highest.  It’s doing whatever it takes to be the best and once you’re the best, doing whatever it takes to become perfect.  You’re probably not working as hard as you possibly can right now, but it’s never too late to change that.

Number two is developing an unshakeable focus and mental strength. This, just like physical skill, takes practice and discipline.  It’s the difference between going through the motions in drills and really making sure you’re doing skills right in order to ingrain them into your brain so that once in competition you don’t have to think about it, you just do it.  Becoming a focused athlete means leaving everything outside the gym besides what you’re there to do.  Have a ridiculous amount of homework? It’s not going to get done while you’re at practice so you might as well not think about it while you’re in the gym.  Family trouble? Boy drama? In a fight with a friend? Same thing- leave it be while at practice or competition and stay focused on the present (a good life lesson as well!).  Another tool is visualizing before and after every practice and match.  If you did a particular thing wrong, visualize doing it the right way over and over before attempting it at the next session.  Playing a daunting opponent? Picture their weaknesses and see yourself exploiting them over and over again.  My favorite time to visualize is the night before at bedtime, that way when I go to sleep it really sinks into my brain.  The mental part of sports is JUST as important as the physical part, so it cannot be neglected (especially in volleyball)!

Number three is sacrifice.  You have to make succeeding a priority.  I can remember when I was a freshman in high school on varsity and my mom got soooo mad because my coach said I couldn’t miss a practice to celebrate my grandfather’s 80th birthday with my entire extended family.  You might say, well, it’s more important to be there for your grandpa’s birthday with the fam, but then you’re making that the priority (which is also perfectly fine if that’s what you want!).  Sacrifice is not easy, and I feel like it’s lost it’s meaning to some people.  I pretty much sacrificed a social life in high school to play three sports throughout the year, but I made varsity in every sport and went to the state championships in high jump my freshman year.  You have to decide how much you want to succeed and a good benchmark is what you’re willing to give up to do it…. Partying on the weekends? Spending a ton of time with a boyfriend/girlfriend?  Thinking about what you’re going to wear to school tomorrow rather than how you’re going to improve in (insert activity here)? You might not want to succeed bad enough.

Finally, say yes to opportunities! I can remember saying no to one particularly big opportunity in my life because I was scared of failing, but luckily my coach didn’t listen and put me on our top 18s club team as a sophomore anyway and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that! Confidence is built by pushing your comfort levels (saying yes to an opportunity), doing something that scares you and conquering it. I used to hate practicing with people who were better than me because I’d get hammered (and even embarrassed in some situations), but that’s when I improved the most! Now I take the opportunity to practice with anyone who I think will give me a challenge even if there’s a good chance I’m going to lose and get frustrated and probably hate it while it’s happening.  Join teams and clubs and say hi to people at school, have all your doors open all the time, you never know what could come through for you.  Looking back, one of the things I’m most proud of is taking advantage of opportunities.  Most of the time it sucks at first, like playing beach volleyball. I didn’t know how it was going to go, but I wanted to give it a shot and I was terrible at first, however, I kept saying yes.  I said yes when veteran players asked me to play with them even though I didn’t think I was ready, I went to international tournaments when I had no idea what I was doing, but all that experience adds up and has helped me get to where I am today.  **I’m not saying just jump head first into everything that comes your way, but make sure you give each opportunity considerable thought and if it has the potential to make you more successful down the line, do it.

Those are my main pieces of advice…I feel it’s important to strive for success and to be the best not only for an individual’s future in sports or their career, but because it’s such a crucial cornerstone of American culture and I believe our country is suffering because this mentality is not as prevalent today as it might have been a few decades ago, when our parents were growing up.  So suck it up, push through the pain, and kick some butt!!

 

Preparation!

Planning out my meals for the next week or so and making grocery lists to go along with it…actually kinda fun. #nerd

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My basic plan looks like this:

For breakfast- greek yogurt with berries, dried & chopped dates, and walnut pieces- pretty much everyday.  If I eat clean all week I give myself pancakes at my favorite breakfast place (Haute Cakes) on Sunday morning 🙂

For lunch- usually a salad with all the fixin’s, my base is baby spinach and romaine lettuce with balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil for dressing, then I add all the veggies I can find (leftovers are good!), a little gorgonzola cheese and some pine nuts- bam!

I usually need a snack post afternoon cardio before dinner so that’ll consist of egg whites with 1/2 an english muffin, an apple with natural peanut butter, a protein shake, or veggies and hummus.

For dinner-  I want to get creative and make new things from all the cook books I received for Christmas, I’m going to keep things simple for the rest of this week, especially since I’m doing a juice cleanse tomorrow.  Planning on making grilled salmon with sweet potatoes on Friday, but next week my big challenge will be a healthier version of the Barefoot Contessa’s Jambalaya!

I’m fired up, hope it stays this way!

Resolution support!

Resolution support!

Some more detailed and scientific reading about sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions if you’re interested. Most of it seems a bit excessive, but I agree with the basic message for sure, mental and physical preparation is necessary! Also, I love the part about framing and self talk, so helpful!!

Resolute.

January 2nd, 2013. This is my beginning. January 1st is for nursing hangovers, January 2nd is for resolutions.  Yes, I had a pretty good 2012, but there are LOTS of things I can improve upon.  Number one- diet.  AGGGHHH, how I hate being disciplined with my food.  I LOVE pastries and wine and cheese and bread (especially pretzel bread), I should just go live in France. And apparently my “moderation” isn’t really moderation, because when I allow myself to eat those things, even in small amounts, I gain weight.  So those are out! Along with dessert, hash browns, and chips.  Just writing it is painful. Number two- learn. I have gone so long now without really learning something new. I want to challenge my brain, keep it in good working shape, and hopefully stave off decline for as long as possible and in order to do that all research says you need to keep learning.  So, at the top of my list I have master Spanish and tackle the guitar.  And stick with it!  I tend to start extracurricular activities and not see them through…that can actually be another resolution…Number three- see things through.  Like this blog, for example, I would love to be able to say I will post once a week at least, but based on history that would be a risky statement.  So this year I am going to stick with it, stick with the blog, stick with Spanish or guitar lessons, stick with eating healthy!

That sounds like a lot for now so I’m going to just go with those resolutions for 2013.

Now how do I set myself up to succeed? It’s not just enough to say I want to do these things and try with all my might to see them though.  No, I have to prepare my butt off.  Eating healthy requires me to make sure I grocery shop every week and keep my fridge stocked with healthy options.  Before I go to practice I need to get up a little earlier and pack healthy snacks and a lunch.  On Sundays I need to plan dinners for the week so that when the time comes I can’t use not knowing what to cook as an excuse to go out.  For my second resolution I’m going to have to do some research, find out where there are lessons around where I live and create a concrete schedule where I’m expected to show up to classes.  And as far as sticking with things goes….I’m not sure yet, maybe being more organized throughout my day.  I’m really great about scheduling volleyball stuff, practice and gym time, but then I leave everything else on my to-do list for “whenever I can get to it”.  I will try to create a more structured daily schedule for myself with time to blog, time to grocery shop, time to clean the house, time to write emails, time to nap…. 😉

The good thing is that I can see how worth it it will be to follow through on my resolutions. Motivation is key, so I think if I can stay focused on how my resolutions will enhance my life it will be easier to stick with them.  And I don’t think they’re unmanageable, I didn’t say I want to be supermodel skinny by May or Taylor Swift by the end of the year.

Writing this was therapeutic for me so I hope you were able to take something from it as well and I just want to say good luck with your resolutions this year and I hope you succeed because we can ALL be better versions of ourselves and we should never stop striving to grow!  One last thing! I think we can all resolve to be nicer to each other, when you want to honk or yell at someone or say something bitchy, let’s just not.  It won’t hurt you and it will preserve someone else’s entire day or even week.  Cheers to 2013!!

#PLAYWITH<3