Process is long way to reaching a goal you can’t reach the short way. Or at least that’s how I view. It’s doing all the things you can, and should to make sure you make it to the end of the race.
I have had a few sports psychologists work with me in the past and all of them say the same thing – visualize. This always cracked me up, because what else would I be doing in my spare time besides replaying past rallies, visualizing perfect strokes, working through tactical errors I made? How else would I fall asleep besides walking moment by moment, stroke by stroke, through every rally, every situation, every tournament I had played, and wanted to play in the future?
The fact is that I don’t have amazing coaching every day, I don’t have that constant reminder of what is perfect. I have to do that myself. After someone tells me what is perfect, shows me what is perfect I have to remind myself day and night. And that is a process. It’s not as fast as having someone yell at you every day at practice. I don’t always see everything right. For a long time I had a very defensive view of the game, so I watched as my defence improved, but a great coach reminded me that it’s hard to win games purely on defence. So I began to focus more on offence, but it was still wrong. I am still not all the way right, but every piece of right I get from someone I review over and over till it’s perfect in my mind. Till my arms start moving in my sleep and I lose focus at school because I can’t get the stroke out of my mind.
But process is more than just visualization. In fact visualizing might just be a small part in the every day process of improving.
Often the biggest hinderence to me training as much as I should is injury. I remember the first day I realized I could help myself prevent injuries and increase performance by working on mobility. I was 14 at the time, and the realization made me ecstatic. I could now visualize and work on something when I was resting.
As I got older and busier I spent less time working on injury prevention and more time training. Got to get those gains! That backfired when I had to spend six weeks not playing because of a knee injury. Maybe the slow every day process of stretching and rolling and doing mobility exercises was worth while after all. It’s a slow process, but the process taught me to stop what I was doing to look into the future and work on making sure I could keep training. That is a lot harder than just pushing through some pain for a day, but the reward is avoiding those injuries that could keep me out of training.
Process. It’s doing the little things every day that add up. Whether that is visualizing or stretching and warming up properly. The value is in the process, so when you get back to training, don’t forget to do the little things that will ensure you improve in the long run.