Part 1: Assess your training regimen

Some years ago, I was a guest on a football radio show when a caller asked about conditioning for the athlete preparing for the next level of competition. He told me he found some football flexibility exercises he was asked to do to be “ridiculous.” I could hear the exasperation in his voice. With this, we began a discussion.

Having been a professional dancer and having been immersed in yoga for several decades, I know that an exercise will bring very different results depending on how that exercise is done, when it is done, and what other exercises precede or follow it.

The body speaks. Do you listen?

Self assessment is essential when you are trying to get to the next level in your performance. You have to make a daily assessment of what you are doing for conditioning and what impact this conditioning has on your performance. Take time to understand what it is that’s bothering you. The body has its own intelligence and, when you pay attention to its messages, it will guide you to train safely.

Ask yourself precisely what it is about the exercise you’re being asked to do that doesn’t work for you. Are you bored with it? Does it exacerbate some existing muscle strain? Or is the way you are doing the exercise creating new muscle strain? Do you need total rest and recuperation because of a recent past competition or performance?

Also, ask yourself how you could you make this exercise work for you. Try focusing more intently on your alignment and breathing when you’re executing it. Be curious about how you can extract benefit from the exercise. You may find another, more helpful approach. And, if you don’t find a way to make the exercise work for you, you can take your query to the next step.

Always remember that it’s your responsibility to speak up when something isn’t working. Ask for support from your coach or your conditioning coach. Find a time for this that works for you both. Or you can consult with someone like me—someone who can find alternative ways to support you in getting what your body needs to increase your performance readiness.

Whomever you talk with, take responsibility for conveying what it is you’ve determined that isn’t working for you about the exercise. Once you’ve done your homework, you are much more likely to be heard and to get your needs met. My guess is that you’ll also be doing your conditioning coach a favor with your honesty. The coach is likely to appreciate your earnestness about your training and be willing to help you get what you need. If the coach is unwilling, or unable, to give you the assistance you’re looking for, then go to someone else for help. This is important. Your training matters! By taking it seriously, you will save yourself from injury or from performing at less than your peak.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in July, 2022.