“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step” – Lao Tzu
The problem with finishing the season on a bum note is that you’re left mulling it over all summer. The mind becomes a confusing whirl of 'what ifs' and 'should haves'. So, with pre-pre-season starting this week, I have decided to set myself some clear and defined goals for the season ahead to make sure this is the best season yet.
This will probably be my last fully committed season – the dark and foreboding clouds of kids and increased professional responsibility ever growing on the horizon. With that in mind, I intend to make this my most successful year, go out with a bang. I have certain milestones I want to achieve so I want to give myself every opportunity.
I have been on Cap’n Morgan’s punishing gym routine which has been successful to a point, however, it is currently on hold as we are moving house. I don’t feel bad though, as this has proved a constant work out in itself – those huge welsh dressers/cupboards/chest of drawers/sofas/beds won’t shift themselves! And it’s amazing how much clothes weigh when all stuffed into suitcases big enough to store an entire family.
I have a number of Sevens tournaments over the next few weeks which I’m very excited about. This weekend, I will be playing for the Berkhamstead Old Boys in the Beaconsfield Sevens. We have a fresh young team and stand a decent chance of some silverware. And the weekend after I will be rejoining the O-Unit for the West Country Sevens. I will be taking my pen and paper and taking some notes for the blog so watch this space!
But back to the matter in hand…my goals and pledges for the year. I did mention these briefly at the end of the season but it is time to put a little meat on those bones and be disciplined with myself. No pain no gain and other such sporting clichés:
1) Fitness: The most disappointing thing about last season was the way my fitness seemed to peter out. So I intend to work harder inbetween training to push my fitness further than I ever, whether it is running home from the station, cycling to the gym, or more skipping. This also includes maintaining a healthier diet. Out go the chocolate and crisps, in come fruit and nuts…this will be hard!
2) Tackling and physicality: I have been working on this, especially towards the end of the season but it is still the weakest point of my game. I can legitimately claim a lack of confidence in tackling due to my ‘chocolate’ shoulders but this is a mental block. I have done the rehab so they should both be fine. I can’t stand by and watch Radders do all the work anymore so, I will make 8-10 tackles a game. Also, I aim to turn the ball over 2-3 times at least each game. So if Radders does beat me to the tackle – which is highly likely – then I need to be straight on the ball.
3) Attacking: I thought my attacking threat improved dramatically last season and I clocked up some noticeable yardage. `However, there was only one solitary entry in the try column. Therefore, I aim to score 6-8 tries next season. I will also look to bring others into the game more and improve my offloading once the gain line has been broken.
4) Concentration: Sometimes it is easy to switch off and rely on autopilot during a game. I don’t know why this happens – whether it’s a sub-conscious energy saving tactic – but I need to make sure I am totally focused for the whole 80 minutes. ‘Go hard or go home’!
5) Awareness: Although it pains me to say it…the spring in this chicken’s legs is not what it once was! Although I intend to be significantly fitter, I need to be start reading the game more efficiently so that I can make the most impact all the time. This means not ‘ruck-hunting’ but talking an occasional step back and looking for a line or reading where the opposition will attack.
6) Push for County selection: Yes yes, I know this may be somewhat optimistic but it has always been an ambition of mine to play for the senior Herts side.
I watched Shottsy and Tommy Newton tear Gloucestershire apart and it spurred me on. I wanted to be involved. I want to stride out at Twickenham. Yes it will be difficult as it will take a lot for a relative unknown to turn the selectors heads in one season, especially as the vast majority of the Herts team were either Hertford and OAs players. But, nevertheless, I shall give it a crack!
What more can I do?
Right…where are those trainers?!