137: Where to Focus Your Training to Avoid Stress and Burnout

What I discovered then was, when I tried to do well in everything, I ended up not doing well in anything.

Listen to the Podcast

Let me start by first asking, where do you think you should focus your training?

I used to have a big problem focussing when it comes to either sticking to my training plan or developing the right program to level up my game.

In any sport we are in, it always seem to have too many things for us to learn.

Where to Focus Your Training to Avoid Stress and Burnout

Where to Focus Your Training to Avoid Stress and Burnout

Many people want to learn as many things as they can.

For me, I used to train blindly in my younger years.

I used to think that I only needed to put in my time and 101% of my effort to my training and that’s it.

In fact, that was considered easy for me, because it’s play time, sport is not work at all. There may be tough times at training, but it’s also a time to relax from daily work routine.

After a few years of trying to master many impossible tricks in my sport and never really got to own them, I realised there are better ways to play the game with less stress and more joy to sustain longer at it.

In my sport, Canoe Polo, it’s a hybrid sport, so I had to learn how to canoe with enough speed, throw the ball far enough with accuracy.

Passing the ball to a teammate is another skill.

Controlling the boat itself is quite another.

Basically for athletes in my kind of sport, we have to juggle quite a bit of things at once.

To say the least, in order to enjoy this sport in totality, a player has to aim to perform such that the full equipment, the boat and paddle is a part of them.

This has been really tough for me and many players at that time. The earlier equipment was heavy and clunky. Physical wise, it’s easy for players with a smaller frame to lose out. It can be very demoralising and many people gave it up because a lot of effort is required to put it all together.

Also, it’s a game that involves defensive and offensive tactics in relation to the opponents, so we need to kind of have a game vision to pre-empt our next move and anticipate the action of our opponents.

The basic game itself is already quite a challenge.

The problem doesn’t come in playing the game in it’s basic form. The problem comes when everyone wants to get better.

And everyone wants to get better at everything.

That was also the problem I had.

But that’s natural, nobody should just aim to be where they are. Without improvement or progress, it can be hard to enjoy the game too.

When I mentioned “improvement” or “progress”, I don’t mean the scoreboard itself. I meant how fulfilling it can bring and the meaning to be going for it every week or even every day.

In my opinion, always showing up and training as hard as I can is part of the enjoyment.

If I’m unable to play up to my potential, if I’m always not able to execute what I am projecting myself to do in my mind, then my mental vision and reality don’t align.

If they don’t align, I don’t feel good, because I will start feeling frustrated all the time. What’s the point if I’m not enjoying the game at all.

Well, there are certainly available techniques and ways to get oneself to enjoy the training process which I will get into very soon in one of the episodes.

But first, we need to get ourselves to set precedence on what’s most basic based on our own talent and what we know of ourselves.

First of all, we know we need to understand being in a sport competitively is a long game.

For anyone to stick with this long game, let me give you a number, two years, let me give you two good years to commit your time and invested effort. This person would want to know that his or her training program every week has to be of good use.

Nobody wants to grind it out for months to find out that what they have done doesn’t help enough. We all want to be productive with the effort and time we put out. It’s good to be productive.

In order to ensure that happens, in order to be able to align our mental vision and what happens in reality, we need to first know how to figure out where to focus our training sessions.

There are just too many things to learn.

For example, if you are in basketball, there are so many aspects to complete this game. One minute you need to go on the offence, the next minute you need to try and intercept the ball, take a shot or sprint to the other end of the court.

In order to be able to execute such movements and last the game, you need to shape up for weeks and months.

When it comes to shaping up, you may need to lift weights, do interval trainings, take a hundred shots a day to practice accuracy, you get the point.

While there are so many things to learn, nobody can learn everything in one year.

We need to understand what our talent and body can take and pace out our training processes so that we will enjoy the game and not get burned out.

When I was figuring things out for myself, I found out that I needed to find my strengths and use them to my advantage within my trainings for my team.

I knew I couldn’t be the fastest in my team to help get the ball every second, and I knew I couldn’t be the strongest every time to push every opponent out of the way. When I was younger, I knew my limits and weaknesses, but I didn’t know how to structure my own training to shape up without burning out.

So I created a little simple framework to put my daily workouts to a focal point.

So how did I do that.

The way I like to get started out is to form the sweet spot with three basic fundamentals:
First fundamental is to list out “What I am good at”
Second fundamental is to list out “What I love doing”
Third fundamental is to list out “What my team needs”

Visualise this for a moment, imagine a venn diagram with 3 circles intersecting one another.

So what’s within the intersection between them?

That becomes your training focus, what I like to call “Zone of a Champion”.

When I used this for my training years ago, I must say there are times I tend to veer away from what I needed to do to be better, because better doesn’t help if I didn’t enjoy the process, and better doesn’t mean a thing if it doesn’t help the sport or team.

What happened was, when I forgot about these fundamentals I started to get too stressed out when I couldn’t do certain tricks my opponents or teammates could do. They could steal the ball easily from another player by pressuring them with the right position and do so really well.

I loved what they did and tried to emulate that, but got really frustrated when I didn’t see the results.

Thing is, it wasn’t because I couldn’t do that, it’s because I didn’t build the fundamentals of what I was capable of first.

Good thing was I took notes and sketched out this venn diagram for myself and I managed to get back on track with what I needed to do.

If you need a visual, do look it up on the show notes, I’ve got a venn diagram drawn out for you to have a clearer picture in case you would like to use it for yourself.

Take note that this is a guide that I’ve used to focus when I needed something to improve myself to reach my own potential without too much distraction and stress.

At that time, I needed to find something that I can start off with a bit more confidence and freedom to do what I love.

As I moved on from there, I realised that this framework can be used over and over again, just to jumpstart a certain level to move up to the next level.

What I discovered then was, when I tried to do well in everything, I ended up not doing well in anything.

You may wish to try this too, so I thought to share it with you.

You can try this to get started, once you get this going, you can move on from improving that set of skills and refer back to it again when you need to level up your standard.

Hope it helps, if not, do leave your comments in the show notes at starplayeracademy.com/137, sign up for my newsletter while you’re there.

That’s all for today’s episode.
I want to thank you all for joining me today to figure out how to uncover the zone of champion that exists in each and everyone of us.

Yes I understand that in every sport we can’t just do all that we loved doing and expect to improve.

There are times we need to do things we hate doing if they are things that are required to help us improve. But you need to set a baseline for yourself to not get too close to the feeling of burnout and start hating the sport in the process.

Start off first to develop the love and give yourself that permission to grow what you love within it and what you are good at first.

This is the exact model that gave me the courage to get started on what I wanted to do and the freedom to pursue what I needed to do in the sport I loved most. Hope it works for you.

With that you have a great day and we’ll chat again soon.
Big thanks to Dexter Britain for composing such wonderful inspiring music: The Time to Run

Images and Links Mentioned

Your Zone of Champion is Where You Should Focus Your Training

venn diagram to show zone of champion to focus your training

Thanks for listening!

Thanks so much for joining me today. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see below.

Please leave an honest review for The StarPlayer Academy Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.

If you have any questions, email me anytime at marilyn@starplayeracademy.com and I will surely respond to them to get your questions answered quickly.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates. It’s free!

Subscribe to StarPlayer Academy!