One of the most important things I took away from my playing time at Stanford was focusing on the task at hand.
Our strength and conditioning coach made sure to consistently emphasize that mindset during any weight training or conditioning.
At first, I wasn’t sure how to approach this idea and kept wondering why all he did was yell at me to focus on what I was doing. I thought to myself, of course, I am focusing on what I am doing. I am doing it, right?
That, of course, is not what he meant at all.
Summer conditioning for us happened in multiple steps. We would do soft tissue, mobility, and activation in the weight room, then head to the field for a dynamic warm-up and more activation (no one had better glute activation than the Stanford Football team).
After preparing our bodies for the daunting conditioning that lied ahead that day, we would have a “team core challenge.” This challenge would be a series of commands that we would have to perfectly execute, and if we were successful, then we would have earned the right for less conditioning. This concept partially lies at the heart of the “focusing on the task at hand” mindset.
This is because as simple as following basic commands would sound, younger teammates -myself not excluded at times- would be too worried about the shuttle runs that occur later in the conditioning to properly execute in the team core challenge at this moment in time.
The heightened anxiety, lack of focus, and at times panic, caused us to miss little details and ultimately fail the challenge. But as we all know, the little details never are. Had we not worried about the inevitable conditioning and instead all put our concentration into the task at hand, I guarantee we would have been more successful and would have earned the right to condition less.
I learned to understand this concept over time and was able to break down the overwhelming nature of things and put all of my focus on what I was accomplishing right then and there.
The life of an athlete is nothing but overwhelming. There are classes that need to be studied for, playbooks that need to be learned, workouts that need to be dominated, meals that need to be measured, friends that need to be made, time that needs to be managed, and typically this is attempted to be accomplished all in the same day. Then wake up tomorrow and repeat.
If you focus on just one thing at a time such as the class you are in now instead of what is coach gonna say to us after that tough loss, you will ultimately be better off.
Look, Coach is going to say what he is going to say. Worrying about it in third period french is not going to alter his mood or what he says to you all.
Don’t let your fear and anticipation of the later pain distract you from the work you must put in now. If you focus on just the task at hand, then there is no use in worrying about the later tasks you need to get done on any given day because you will get to them, and when you do, then you concentrate on that instead.