Athletes tend to have a very active mindset.
What do we need to do to win?
We’ve gotta train.
We’ve gotta watch film.
We’ve gotta practice the right way.
We’ve gotta simulate what we’re going to encounter during games and make sure we’re prepared for it.
We gotta do this, do that, and do a million other things.
But what about what we don’t do?
Truth is, what we don’t do can often have a greater impact on our success than what we do. In striving to become a better athlete and the best version of yourself, what things can you eliminate from your life that would help you accelerate toward your goals?
Brian Kight, CEO of Focus 3, defines behavior simply and effectively. I like his definition, so we will use it here. Brian states that behavior is what we do, what we don’t do and how we do it.
For student-athletes, there are some obvious things to avoid. Don’t drink. Don’t use or abuse drugs. Don’t mistreat or disrespect people. The great athletes have a longer list of things they don’t or won’t do. They don’t waste time. They don’t waste energy and time trying to change things they have no control over. They don’t ignore the power of good recovery. They don’t rely on food that isn’t good fuel. They don’t miss opportunities to get better.
All of your competitors have the same 24-hour day and seven-day week that you have to work with. The question is who’s most efficient with their 24/7? To create more time to get better, you have to eliminate something. Maybe that’s time spent browsing social media or hours playing Fortnite, or any other activity that’s largely unproductive for your athletic, academic and/or personal goals.
This isn’t to say you should leave yourself no time to unwind and relax, you absolutely should, but we do not want the most important activities to our success to feel like a “to-do” list. We don’t want to create a mindset where we’re simply looking to get in and out of the weight room or film room or trainer’s room or study hall as quickly as possible simply so we can say we did it. When you eliminate the things that won’t serve you as a person and as an athlete striving to be your best, your focus will be more drawn to doing what you need to do, and doing it not just to say you did it, but to actually reap the full benefits that activity has to offer.
When you read about athletes with tremendous work ethic, figures like LeBron James, Tom Brady and Corey Kluber, it can seem like they must have extra hours in the day to get done all they seem to accomplish. But the truth is they’re simply masters of efficiency who’ve also nailed down the things they won’t waste time and energy on.
For many of these high achievers, those habits started well before they became pros. As a senior at Serra High School (San Mateo, California), Brady made it a habit to invite his receivers over to his home for lunch every Sunday. While they ate, Brady would work through the team’s most recent game film, pinpointing things both he and his receivers could do better moving forward. According to ESPN, the sessions rarely lasted less than three hours.
So, how can you better your routine through elimination? One way to check in and evaluate how you’re spending your time is to “STOP, START & CONTINUE.”
Reflect on your previous week.
What is it that you need to STOP doing? What is it that you think you should START doing? Lastly, what should you CONTINUE doing that’s helping you?
Odds are, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for improvement via elimination. And maybe that elimination will help you get more sleep or spend more time on your nutrition or take better care of your body or excel at greater levels inside the class room, or become a better teammate.
Again, you’ve only got so much time to work with. How are you going to spend it?