Having a journal for sport is so much more than writing down a specific technique, or pouring out your emotions on the page. Journaling becomes a log of where you are at a certain point in your training. You begin to see patterns in your behaviors or actions, and how you handle situations that arise in sport. Journaling can become your place to tell it like it is, and learn to move forward despite how you felt.
It takes another level of discipline to sit yourself down and recognize the good, the bad, and the ugly of a practice session or of a workout. I firmly believe that if you are challenged and uncomfortable by journaling, then it is even more imperative that you begin. Challenge is the essence of growing, and in sport and life, we need every opportunity to practice being uncomfortable.
Being able to find honesty, and then peace with whatever happened in your day can help transform the way you look at improving yourself daily. And that is exactly what we look for... the times when you aren't sure what's ahead, we must have faith that the work will pay off. Can I continue to grind despite the feeling of traveling downhill on the rollercoaster? When I journaled about a tough time before, can I hold on and keep pushing since I know there will be a light at the end of the tunnel?
Now that we know the importance and value in keeping a journal, when are the best times to pull out that journal and jot some notes down?
First, get yourself to practice early. Use your journal as a way to create goals for the day or for the practice session, as well as a way to describe the thoughts and feelings you notice. Sometimes when you are heading into a practice you know will be tough, you have nerves, thoughts, worries or fears. Give yourself the opportunity to be honest with those feelings. By writing down those thoughts, you have honored those feelings and can now redirect your focus onto whats important: practice. A thought does not predict what will happen in practice (there are always opportunities to play with sports psychology and mindfulness!).
In terms of your practice goals, describe the areas you hope to put your attention towards (redirection, noticing being in the moment). Write down the specific technique that you need to include in that day's practice. Include the focus drills you will need complete on your own at the end of practice.
Its very typical that once you get into the practice, your specific areas of focus could change. If thats what comes up, take it! Journaling is not about being perfect. The concept is not to create a map for a perfect practice, and then punish yourself if it doesn't follow that path. Really, who cares? By journaling, you created an intent to focus. You created a theme to your practice, not a regimen.
Once practice is done and your cool down is in its last stages, pull out that journal again. I like to journal when I've finished my cool down routine and I am ready to stretch and rehydrate. I am relaxed, I have most likely finished any of the extra drills I need to complete, spoken to coaches, or drilled extra technique. I get to bring my focus to reflecting on the last few hours.
Curate a consistency with the topics you journal about. This will make it easier to build your training and mentality journal around a dependable theme. Take the guess work out of the process:
- Talk about the specific techniques you worked on. This should be detailed enough for yourself that you will be able to understand and perform it when you need to refer back to your journal.
- Discuss areas during the practice that presented challenge and may need added attention.
- Mentality: what thoughts came up during practice? When were you kind to yourself for having those thoughts? When and with what kind of technique did you help yourself put your focus back on being in the moment?
- List the extra drills you worked on, and need to remain in your repertoire.
Whatever you choose to journal about, your continued effort helps you see patterns develop over time. There are more topics than listed above, and there will be certain times in your training where some topics are much more important than others. It's just how your career and training develops over time and you change as a person!
Best of luck trying out the awesome-ness of journaling!