Pull Through Preseason

Aug. 27, 2012, 1:42 p.m. (ET)
FieldHockeyPlayer25: While you’re still laying out at Myrtle Beach, I’m laying out on a 100 degree turf #PreseasonProblems

FieldHockeyPlayer25: During time trials my pre-wrap and spirit broke. The odds were not ever in my favor today.

FieldHockeyPlayer25: What’s sleeping in? #Hello6AM

In the midst of preseason, your mid-August tweets may look similar to those above.  While it is easy to be cynical with three-a-days of sweltering temperatures and rigorous drills you can make these next two weeks more gratifying and even more enjoyable by straying from the negative Nancy routine. Here are a few simple ideas to keep your focus sharp, exude positive vibes and get the most out of preseason. 

Every Mile a Memory

There’s the robotic click of the beep test, the old-school hustle of the mile or a concoction of endurance sprints with a splash of hills. Running tests are inevitable.  The possibilities have no limits and either do you. But sometimes that finish line seems farther away than it should. Dedicate your run or each sprint to someone of importance in your life.  Give your twenty-second repeat to your little brother, Jameson. Put more into that gauntlet for Mrs. Zimmerman who sent you a preseason care package. Think about them. Focus on their positive energy and let that carry you through the white line. 

The Power of Verbiage 

Write it on your stick. Write it on your hand. Write it on your teammate’s hand. Sharpie it, post it. When your mental focus is waning keep an inspirational phrase or word in your arsenal to put you back on track.  Preferably something short enough to breathlessly cough up before the last leg of the gauntlet begins.  Try “dig deep,” “together,” or “one step.” Decide on the motto as a team or as an individual.  Buy into the idea and see the change of electricity is can send through practice. 

Oh How the Time Flies

Some coaches forbid players to wear watches during practice and with good reason. Time tends to move slower when your eyes are glued to your wrist and in turn, it can also prove more difficult to keep focused. You are concentrating on mentally pushing the minute hand of your clock instead of the rocket of a push pass you’re about to miss. Let coach keep track of the seconds. 

Stretching Your Focus 

Before warming up as a team, take five minutes to stretch on your own. This time is not only good for shaking out the stiffness from yesterday’s practice but also for gathering your thoughts. Use the high knees and lunges before the session to set small goals for that practice. If this Zen approach is not your style, try rocking out to a feel good song to give you an extra burst of energy before taking the field.

Remembering the Basics

When you are caught up learning the new press on your off hours in between two-a-days, don’t get lazy. Lay with your feet propped up against the wall, allowing the lactic acid to drain and alleviating soreness for the next session. Drink water and then more water. Apply sunscreen on the regular. Remember to pack a post workout snack. Taking care of the details can save you from injury and feeling anything less than your best. 

We Get By With A Little Help

It is difficult to be a constant well of energy for the entire two weeks. When your tank is running on E, siphon some of your teammates exuberance. When Elizabeth shouts, “We can do this, Cards,” believe her. Buy into what she is saying. You can even ask a teammate to help keep you mentally in tune through a specific drill. Not all inspiration is vocal though. The quietest teammate with the sickest block tackle can push you. When you see someone giving her all, you want to do the same. Don’t worry. The favor will be returned. Someone is looking at you for encouragement. Enthusiasm is contagious. Be the spark that lights the whole team and propels you exactly where you want to be in the Fall.

While these simple tips can keep your energy running high through preseason, get creative and make up your own list of ways to keep your spirits up during the next two weeks. Preseason is a privilege. Not just anyone gets to rock your team’s jersey.  Embrace the challenges and let them make you better.  Remember although your summer is cut short, that doesn’t mean your ability to stay positive is too.

Kaitlan Mitchell is a freelance writer for USA Field Hockey