Summer Season: Winding down or gearing up?

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      Over the last week I’ve spoken with almost a dozen coaches and athletic directors. In casual conversation I quickly lead off with, “So, are you winding down from the year?”  Within seconds, I catch myself and follow up with, “As a former AD and Coach, I know that’s a silly question!” More often than not, they beat me to it by saying something along the lines of, “Oh, I never wind down!” or “This is when we really gear up!”

       While I appreciate the energy and commitment to our profession, I’m also a huge proponent of self-care. This wasn’t always the case.  Like some of you, I imagine, I spent years believing that I shouldn’t need to rest or take time for myself. Fortunately, I was exposed to a few great coaches who valued and modeled the importance of balance and recovery. I saw their success on and off the courts. I saw the benefits first hand and experienced them myself.  It is my belief that now, more than ever, we need great coaches and educators who want to and can go the distance. This requires energy and desire, two of the first things to go during a busy season/career.

      Most of us will experience mental or emotional fatigue, or a general lack of motivation, (an empty fuel tank) at some point during or after our seasons. This is normal. You work hard! You’re  a tank-filler day in and day out.  What isn’t so normal, however, is the acknowledgement that it’s okay to take a break, to build in rest and recovery, for YOU. You don’t want to appear lazy or less committed than your peers. You don’t want someone else or some other team to get an edge while you are “slacking off.”

       I encourage you to consider both the benefits and necessities of such down time. What do flight attendants say?  “Please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” When you are your best self you can better bring out the best in your athletes and staff.  It is hard to do this without oxygen.

       As I often say, there is a difference in being selfish and doing for yourself.  Take some time for you this summer. Prioritize it. Commit to it. I promise that it will yield more results than you can ever imagine.

 Keep Strivin' !

- Pam Herath

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