I got a call from one of my former athletes the other day, wanting to workout next week. It’s the “offseason,” the time during the year outside the competitive season, the time in which both athletes and coaches focus on other things that build and assess their programs, and also take a break from the grueling and draining pace of the competition season.
Most of the time, the offseason gets used to work on weakness and hone strengths. Athletes like the one who contacted me want to work on their technique to stay sharp and more importantly, to develop and improve areas of weakness. Because we’re not competing, it’s a perfect time to do so, because the pace is much slower, and it allows for time to pause when necessary and break down technique – why things work or don’t work.
However, I wonder how much during the offseason we tend to other matters – psychological, emotional, and spiritual – that affect performance. I wonder if during our offseason time, if it also wouldn’t be time well spent to address areas of our life that focus on developing our resolve and self-understanding; our ability to relate and communicate with others; and our character and vulnerabilities. I think those areas are just as crucial to success as an athlete, and more importantly, as a human being.
Just as the grind and pace of the competition season doesn’t allow us to break down technical issues to the extent and depth we want to, I think the same is true with adaptive issues – our ability to adjust, accept, and adapt to stress, anxiety, adversity; our ability to handle both failure and success. And perhaps we’d do well as coaches to assist our athletes with addressing these issues, because I’ve found that they have a huge effect on an athlete’s performance and life – more than we probably care to admit.
And, it’s ironic that this coming Sunday the Church recognizes the day of Pentecost, which lasts into the summer and through fall. The season of Pentecost is the Church’s “offseason” as well…a a slowdown in pace from the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. Perhaps, for both pastors and leaders, it is just as good of a time to address adaptive issues – our own and in the places we lead and serve.
So, this “offseason,” whether you are in the church or are an athlete, continue to work on those technical areas…make those gains towards doing it better. But, don’t neglect the adaptive areas, building a capacity to live well. Take advantage of the downtime of the offseason – and perhaps you’ll make some real gains as a person as well!