Anthony Watson is not just a talented rugby player; he's also a master of visualisation, a technique that helped him score a crucial try in the recent clash against Wlaes in this year’s Six Nations. Watson, who has represented England 52 times and toured with the British and Irish Lions twice, has worked with mental skills coach Don Macpherson; since he was 21. They've used visualisation to help him conquer two severe injuries and return more robust than ever. Watson spends three to five sessions a week visualising his game, focusing on specific plays, and trying to anticipate what might happen on the field. And it's paid off: Watson is one of England's most dangerous attacking weapons, able to accelerate, change direction, and scythe through defences.
Anthony takes part in our 'Wake Up with Series', talking about the power of visualisation, his passion for business, and how he's found a new sense of joy in the game after being sidelined for 13 months.
What time does your morning usually start?
Our usual weeks involve training on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, with a game on Saturday. Generally, I like to get up around 7:30 am on those days. Sleep is the number one form of recovery; therefore, I try to maximise it wherever possible. On the recovery days of Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, I would get up later, generally around 9:00 am. Again this is mainly to do with recovery, given the high intensity of the day before prioritising sleep is of enormous importance to me and very noticeable in my body when I haven't been able to do so.
Coffee or tea?
For a long time, I was neither, and I used to wake up with sparkling water and lemon until maybe 3-4 years ago when I started drinking black coffee. I haven't looked back since - a morning without coffee for me now is unusual. My go-to now would be a flat white or cortado.
Cold or warm shower?
A warm shower, without a doubt. I understand the logic behind a cold shower, but we spend so much time in ice baths that I can't bring myself to be cold much more!
Must-have products to wake you up?
Face wash and a nice-smelling body wash if you have a shower. Generally, if you feel good about yourself after first showering and smelling nice, you set yourself up for a good day. Conversely, nothing is worse than rushing out the door in the morning and flustering on your way into training or work. Waking up with enough time to make yourself feel good is essential, whatever that may be.
One thing you do for your mind and body?
Meditation is essential for me in preparation for high performance. Much time can be spent wondering what may happen and the consequences of x or y when it's primarily wasted energy. Spending time meditating and visualising performance allows me to connect my mind with my body, remain in that moment, and prevent me from overthinking. The two, in my opinion, are so interconnected. Blocking out periods to click my mind with my body allows me to be in the present and will enable me to go on with the rest of my day with less concern. From a purely physical perspective, I have adopted a Japanese-style onsen at home. This incorporates a hot bath, an ice bath and a sauna. Rotation between these at varying temperatures has been the best recovery tool I've ever used for my body.
What does your commute look like?
Living close to work or the training ground has been a considerable change for me. I find it so much more efficient regarding time to spend with my family or walking the dog, which to me is invaluable. It takes me 15 - 20 minutes to get to work, which, compared to my 45 minutes previously, saves hours over a week, let alone a month.
How is your weekend morning routine different from your weekday morning routine?
The weekends for an athlete are generally similar to the weekdays. Saturday is our game day more often than not, so it involves a less relaxing day than a typical Saturday. Typically, on this day, I wake up to meditate around 9 am, shower, brush my teeth, go downstairs, and have my small breakfast and coffee. Again, at this point, I'll probably use the Normatec, a recovery device, on my legs to flush them out whilst watching TV with my son. After this, I'll try to get into another meditation session before jumping into the sauna to warm up my body temperature. Then I’ll eat my pre-match meal, which has become torture; eating pasta at 11 am is not enjoyable, and get on the road to the game. Sundays involve as much relaxation and family time as possible, and I try not to have a routine on this day to allow myself time to go with what I feel like doing and not what must be done. This refreshes me and allows me to go into the week following, ready to get stuck into what needs to be done again!