Knowing when to Stop

4th August 2023
Read time:  3 min 43 sec

At the end of the most exciting Ashes series I’ve ever seen, came the story of Stuart Broad finishing his career on a fairytale high note.

With his decision to end his career, people may ask, “Why is he ending when he’s playing so well?”

In his own words, he wanted to end “on top” and said that this was the right time.

Sure, he could have carried on. Perhaps he would have had many more amazing moments. But you can’t be sure.

You hear many athletes talk about “when you know, you know”.

Some, like Tom Brady, reverse their decision and come back because they don’t feel quite done.

And while many voices in sport tell us to “keep going”, “never quit”, “grind away”, the decision to stop can sometimes be the right thing to do.

Now, while this article isn’t about whether you’re going to end your career or not (possibly it is), it’s about trying to understand when you may need to stop, hold back, or rest.

It’s quite ironic, as I probably need this advice the most. Let’s dive in…

Why you should stop

Because you need the rest

The problem we have is that the world is telling us that in order to be more, we need to do more.

It doesn’t mean we can’t put in effort, it means we need to know when enough is enough so that we can rest and recover, for better effort in the future.

As a young athlete, I thought the more I trained, the better I would get.

I feared rest days.

But I always felt sluggish, fatigued, and sore during my matches.

It wasn’t until I decided to make my Fridays (or the two days before a game) complete rest days, I saw a change.

In trusting that the rest was good for my body, I was able to feel fresh and energised, and sure enough, better performances followed.

I remember a game in Australia where I was so rested and fresh that I told myself that morning, “I’m going to have a good game today.” – I ended up taking 8 wickets.

Give yourself rest.

It will be challenging mentally, as you may feel like you should be doing something, but the reward in your performance will have a far greater positive effect.

You don’t enjoy it anymore

If you’re finding that you don’t enjoy what you’re doing as much as you once did, that’s normal.

You will find that your interest could diminish over time.

But if you have tried to change things up and you still feel the same, you may find that you are even resenting what you’re doing. It’s time to back off.

Check to see if you’ve lost the enjoyment you once had.

If you have, look to see if a change may help, but stopping could help.

You’ve given everything you can

Sometimes you throw absolutely everything you can at it.

You may be wondering, “Have I done enough?” or “Could I do more?”.

Sometimes the simple answer to that is no.

As long as you can honestly say to yourself that you’ve done everything you could, then you’ll sleep better at night knowing you controlled what you could control.

It’s causing more harm than good

You often have to find that the line between where growth happens and harm begins is very, very close.

Athletes can push their bodies, minds, and emotions to the very edge, only to break physically, mentally, or emotionally.

The skill is to know where that boundary lies.

To know when you’re getting too close to causing harm.

The more you learn where that line is by pushing and testing, the more you will remember it and then pull back just before you cross it.

It’s could negatively effect your relationships

While not stopping could cause you harm, it could also cause those around you harm.

If you’re pushing yourself too hard, those around you might see it more than you do, and if you’re not willing to listen to them, or you neglect them, that will have its consequences.

Believe me, this is where I have some experience.

Take a moment to consider whether stopping would improve the relationships around you.

And while it’s not necessarily a request to stop completely, it could be something as simple as shutting the laptop, engaging in a conversation, or even registering how you could be affecting them.

All this might require some time management skills.

But if anything, awareness is key here.

Stuart Broad finished his career so that he’d be able to spend more time with his partner and newborn. He’s able to enhance those relationships, which will last way longer than the sport, by stopping at the right time.


Why you should stop

  • Because you need the rest
  • You don’t enjoy it anymore
  • You’ve given everything you can
  • It’s causing more harm than good
  • It’s could negatively effect your relationships

Bonus: You might have lost motivation

It could be because you’ve lost motivation for what you’re doing.

If this is you, you may enjoy the Mindset Masterclass: Finding Motivation, currently free until Sunday, August 6th, here before it becomes available on the MindStrong Academy.

Whenever you're ready, there is a couple of ways I can help you:

MindStrong Sport App – Mental Skills Training for Athletes

Personal Mindset Coaching - Contact for more

About the Newsletter

Join and get at least one actionable idea for developing mindset, wellbeing and more.

    Connect with me

    Recent Posts