What will I do in the off season?
Many players are now back home and wondering what’s next for their personal lives and career in professional sports. For some the physical part of the game has taken its toll on body and spirit, and your ready to call it quits. For others, its a time of reflection, how can I improve my game and get better prepared. I hear all kinds of excuses made and promises never kept to make a change needed to improve someone’s game. I can remember putting hours of work into developing my footwork as a running back. My coach said I needed it, so I made a promise to him and myself to work on it. That was my commitment to improving my game.
Another thought is, I now have time on my hands what will I do with it? There are many ways to use your time wisely when in the off season. Sure working out to stay in shape is a good thing, but what about those things outside of football. Do you need to visit friends and family, maybe spend some time with your parents, grand parents, brothers or sisters? Reconnecting with those who are inside of your sphere of influence will help you become involved with their lives. When the season is in full swing, you can become distracted by family matters, its hard to focus on your game, when your hearing about your brother or sister considering getting a divorce from their spouse and are crying on your shoulder.
Do you need to complete some college courses or take some classes that will help you in life after professional sports? You should work on continuing education to keep in the loop. I know and have talked to several of my clients who are thankful they kept working on and expanding CE’s in their field of study. You have on-line colleges who have many various courses that you can take year around. There are times that you have dead time to work on an advanced degree during your season. Let’s face it, someday you will retire and need to have a job waiting for you, and having your degree with advanced courses will carry some weight when interviewing. You can’t live for long on your reputation of being a professional athlete. Many have tried and failed, my goal is to keep you moving in the right direction, there is life after football, just be ready for it. Advancement in your education is one of the best ways to get noticed and hired.
For many professional athletes its a time to reconnect with your immediate family. Spending time with your wife and children is a must. How do you reconnect with your family? Sit down with your spouse, and make a game plan of spending time with them. So, what does Quality Time mean?
Remember when you were dating, you looked forward to spending some time with that special someone. You probably thought about what you would do during the day, in fact you may have even daydreamed about the date. You envisioned looking into her eyes, or she dreamed about looking into yours. You would sit across from each other, listening to the music where you were eating out. You may have enjoyed the walks that you took together while talking about your dreams, goals, even secrets that you have kept to yourself. What made your dates special? It was the quality time that you spent together, fun times, and good memories that you made.
I can remember a third date with my now wife. It was a memorable date she will often share with close friends. Looking back, maybe slightly embarrassing when I look back now. I picked her up at her house. When she got into my truck, she gave me a very odd look. I wondered why, and drove on to our planned destination. As we arrived at Estes Park, she asked what’s that smell on your coat, it smells awful. I checked my pockets of my coat and found a bottle of elk scent (pee) that had leaked half of its content in my coat pocket. It was an awful smell for sure.
We went into Rocky Mountain National Park and started to look for elk so we could take pictures. This was a planned event for the both of us, we both love wildlife photography, we enjoy exploring the mountains and woods of Colorado. Cameras are great ways to do things together. We have had some wonderful talks on our journeys with our cameras. On our drive to a specific area we want to take pictures, we have some of our favorite music playing as we drive. We turn our cell phones off, and make sure that we each focus on each other. We have created some great memories and wonderful pictures together.
So, what is Quality Time? Have you ever watched people, couples, eating at restaurants? I love people watching, I can tell if people are mad at each other, if they are dating couples, old married couples. You learn a lot by watching people. I have seen on several occasions where married couples sitting together will hardly talk with each other. They stare at the walls, watch people entering the restaurant, text on their phone, it’s very obvious that they have no interest in talking with each other and if they do it’s forced. On the other hand a dating couple will look at each other, focus on each other, talk to each other; you can tell they are spending quality time together. They laugh together, at each other, life seems good.
When my wife wants to talk, I will sit down and spend whatever time she needs. I turn off the TV, cell phone; I will put away anything that will distract me from giving her 100% of my attention. She will do the same for me. Our talks are not always serious. She may just want to sit on the couch and share how her day went. One of her love languages is quality time. That’s very important to her. If she wants to go to plays, or a concert, I will go along with her because it’s important to her. If he or she needs your time, then give them the time they need.
Make a list of things that your spouse likes to do that requires your time. For example: She likes spending time in the garden, going out to dinner, my reading to her, going shopping with her, home projects like painting, hosting events at the house, like BBQ’s, music jam sessions, football games, movie nights for friends. She loves doing these kinds of things together. I want her to know that she is number one in my life. Do you do that for your spouse now? If not, then start planning to sit down with her or him and plan some fun things to do.
The main purpose of quality time is being together, not in the same house, not somewhere on the same property. You need alone time together and focused on each other. That is the secret of building a strong relationship, togetherness! How can you be focused on each other while watching your favorite basketball team playing? It’s not going to happen. Have you ever tried reading the paper while someone was talking with you? Or, have you ever tried talking to someone who was reading the paper? No dialog ever happens. So concentrate on what your spouse is saying, look into his or hers eyes as they speak. This shows that you are indeed interested in what they are saying.
One of the best qualities of quality time is, you get to share some alone time with each other, just think you can talk about some of your thoughts, some of your feelings, and dreams without someone interrupting you. Plan for this time to happen. Schedule a time, and stick to it.
Many times my wife would ask for me to share my day with her. She would say, “I just want to listen and have you talk to me and tell me how your day went.” So, my role was to share about my day. That was important to her. When she speaks, I listen; I don’t try to fix anything. We have a rule, if she wants me to just listen, then I say nothing. Most guys want to fix problems for their children, for our spouses, for co-workers. If my wife says, honey, I need your help; can I talk some things over with you? I need your help. That’s the green light that I need to help her, and she welcomes it. I know many guys who will not listen and want to start fixing things with out being asked for that kind of help. This is one of the first things I will go over in a counseling session. The rules of quality listening. This has prevented many on going arguments between spouses. Guys, if she wants you to listen, she has to tell you, “please just listen to me, I don’t need help.” Or, she may say, I want your help, but here is my problem, I want and need your advice. They can go both ways, you may need your wife just to listen, or you may need her help and seek her advice.
Here are some tips that can help you become a better listener. Look at your spouse when they are talking, focus on what they are saying. When they are talking, don’t look around the room, don’t watch the TV out of the corner of your eye (turn off TV), don’t stare out the window, again, I repeat look into the eyes of your spouse. If your spouse is hurting when they are talking with you, ask why? Don’t just let their emotions pass you by, find out what’s going on. Let them share until they are done. Then ask what they want you to do, just listen or do they need your help. If your spouse is wringing their hands, or fidgety, that is a body language you need to be aware of. Something is going on; ask what’s up after they are done sharing with you. Many people miss these signs; they are saying that they are hurting in a big way. Let them speak as long as they need, look into their eyes as they speak and don’t interrupt them. This often will discourage them from continuing to communicate with you. Your goal is to listen, and not speak.
I hope this gives you an idea on how to reconnect with your loved ones. Is it important? You bet it is. Professional sports is a wonderful experience and is to be shared with the entire family. It provides you with a good living, exciting experiences and wonderful memories. Now that the season is over, spend quality time with your family.
Posted on January 11, 2011 by Dr. Mike Brooks