That is how long you have in each and every day. 24 hours. The same 24 hours that your siblings have, that your parents have, that your sports heroes have and that their sport heroes had before them.
Every day in the Strength & Conditioning field we work with athletes who want to get better. Whether they want to play professionally and dominate the best of the best in their sport, or simply have a goal to reach a level higher than they are playing right now, the common theme is that if they are coming in for training they want to improve their game in some way. However until they are at that top level where they live off of their sport these same athletes often have other commitments whether it be work, school or otherwise. Often we are able to make it work, building the training schedule for the athlete around these other commitments and ensuring that although they are busy they are improving every day and making their way towards that ultimate goal.
Unfortunately, often times when those commitments loom large is when athletes often decide they cannot continue on with strength and conditioning. Whether it is due to lack of time, lack of transportation or any other reason, training seems like it is just too much to handle. This brings me to the point of this blog. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. It is not about “not having time” it is about not MAKING time. Now if you are reading this and thinking “no… I really don’t have time!” I get it… making time can be difficult. However, think about it this way; You have a dream of playing sports professionally. Hundreds of thousands or potentially millions of kids out there have the same dream. To be one of the 0.0001% (this figure is not from a study… but we all know the number is pretty damn small) that actually make it through and get to live out that dream, you need every advantage you can get. If you can spend another 1,2,3,4 hours of your week working towards getting stronger, getting faster, getting more explosive, and add up those hours over the next 1,2,3,4,5 years (depending on how long you have until you are meant to turn pro) how much further ahead will you be than those who said “I don’t have time for training.” Obviously the more time you can put towards this the better, but be honest with yourself about how much YOU can handle. Even if you start with 1 hour per week, 1 is better than none.
Hopefully this has you convinced that training is important, but we still haven’t addressed how to MAKE the time to add this in. It simply comes down to prioritizing. I don’t think there is any perfect answer to this question, but if you really want to prioritize training in your week, here are some things to try.
- Plan your week in advance: If you are going to school right now and are packed with homework, plan out your training days & plan out heavy homework days. Block out your time to make sure you have time to train. There is nothing more frustrating than getting a text from an athlete on any given day saying “I can’t come to training because I have a test tomorrow.” Are you telling me honestly you are so unprepared for your test that you are going to come home from school, sit at the kitchen table and study NON stop until you go to bed? Why weren’t you studying yesterday? How long have you known about this test? If you can plan your week out in advance you can make time to study and prepare properly for tests, or anything else coming up at school while also keeping training as a priority making sure you are continuing to improve not only as a student, but as an athlete as well.
- Build your training program to work AROUND your schedule. I understand that not every athlete can make it to the gym every day. However when you look at your schedule, find your free times within the week and set those as times to train. If you have 1-2 days that you KNOW you can make it to the gym, don’t let anything interrupt those days. As well, just because you aren’t in the gym it doesn’t mean you can’t be training. Talk to your S&C coach and build a program that allows you to put some work in with whatever equipment you have access to at home or outside of the gym. That way even if it isn’t the “perfect” program it is something you can stick to and something that you will continue to see progress with.
- Make the BEST use of your time. This one may be the most important of anything I have said so far. Whatever time you are able to dedicate towards training, make sure it is used the right way. How do we do this? Analyze your game and figure out where you need to improve the most in order to succeed at the level you’re at now, and the level you want to get to. Talk with your S&C coach and tell them what parts of your game you need to improve. What parts of your game will make you successful. That way coach and athlete are on the same page and you are in the position to make sure that the time you spend training will make the biggest difference possible to you as an athlete right now and in the future.
Learning to prioritize in this way is an ongoing process. I am certainly not trying to say I have it perfected. It will never be perfect but it can always be improving. There are so many elements to being a successful athlete, and also so many elements of life beyond athletics that are also important. It is a difficult balancing act, and I only hope that reading this has helped start the process of understanding that the earlier you can learn that balance and begin to develop it, the better chances you have of succeeding, whether that be as an athlete or otherwise. We all have the same time in the day, but our success in whatever venture we choose to pursue will come down to how we use that time.