How do we get better at our sport? Do we simply go to training, do what the coach asks and then go play on the weekend?
OR do we learn how to do our extras?
Here are seven ways to ensure we maximise the effect of our own development.
Identify what needs to be done If we are going to do extras then we need to know exactly what extras we need to do. It’s no good a full forward in aussie rules working on their kick when they are already capable in that area yet they struggle to mark a ball above their head. Examine your game, ask a coach, talk to other players who know you and find out what are the most important areas of the game that you can work on to make you the best player you can be. Prioritise them. For our aussie rules example, the number one priority might be marking a ball above their head, number two might be then working on his kick. Our extras are more likely to relate to areas of weakness, however they can also be useful in developing a strength. As part of the process of identifying what needs to be done, set yourself a goal to get it done. This way you will have something concrete to work towards. It usually helps to make it quantifiable. Our full forward might set their goal to be 80% success rate on contested marks.
Work out a plan to do the extras Once you have prioritised your extras, then you can get in to the nitty gritty. Plan out how you will most effectively go about doing those extras. Who will you need to help you? Your coach, a working partner? What will you need? A bag of balls? Space? Time in the day or at the end of a team session?
Tell someone Make it public, and that doesn’t mean post it on Facebook necessarily. It means put it out there. Once we have told someone we are going to do something then we are more inclined to get it done. This person could be the very person you need to help; the person who will kick the balls back to you.
Find some motivation Have something up your sleeve to motivate you on the days you are going to find it hard to get out to do the extras. It might be a saying or affirmation, a song, or a message from your greatest supporter on your phone. Just have it ready so that when it is pouring rain and cold outside and you know you need to get the work done yet you are struggling to get out the door, you can reach for this motivation to influence your mindset to get moving.
Do the work You can’t escape it. YOU MUST DO THE WORK. Think of it this way; in your team there is another player of equal talent in the same position as you and they are doing the extras and you’re not; who in the long run will get the spot? DO THE WORK. As Lance Armstrong said in a press conference, “on Christmas Day. what are they doing [referring to his competition]? I’m on my bike”.
Review Don’t just assume that because you are doing the extras you are doing them right. Analyse yourself or get someone you trust to analyse you. Is your technique correct? Are you doing the right exercises? Are you doing too much work and risking overtraining?
Reward yourself We are humans. We like to be rewarded for doing a good job so reward yourself for achieving a goal. Celebrate the success of achieving what you set out to achieve. It is a powerful confidence booster.