Leigh Halfpenny  (Under Armour)Leigh Halfpenny (Under Armour) © Copyright

Work hard, be awesome

Learn from Welsh full back Leigh Halfpenny if you want to improve your 2017.

Leigh is a phenomenal kicker, but it’s no accident he’s one of the world’s best: hard work pays off.

“It’s something my grandad used to say to me. He was hugely influential in helping me improve my kicking; he used to pick me up from school and take me kicking for a couple of hours. It started being once a week, then it developed to twice a week and so on, until it was pretty much every day.

It all stemmed from him saying, ‘If you’re not putting the work in, someone else is.’ That’s always stuck with me, and reminded me to see every day as an opportunity to improve.”

Leigh moved to France to play for Toulon. Like any change, he had to remain totally committed to it.

“It’s embracing that decision, and throwing yourself fully into it. For me, it was a big move, and a big rugby decision as well as the life decision to move to a new country and learn a new language and so on. You’ve got to decide to go for it 100 per cent.

If there are doubts, you’ve got to remove them before you make the move. Doubts are fine to have, but it’s better to be 100 per cent committed once you actually move or start your new path. I’ve just thrown myself into everything really. I’m not fluent – I’m still learning the language. I just want to make the most of the experience.”

A rugby player’s gym regime can be brutal, but Leigh has learned that, for anyone training, it’s all about technique.

“The right technique is crucial when you’re lifting heavy weights – you don’t want to get injured because of your own mistake.

In terms of improving on the field, it’s just about really committing to it again. Dedicating yourself to improving a part of your game is the only way you will make those changes. You have to put the hard work in and you’ll get the rewards. There’s no special secret.”

Leigh Halfpenny (Under Armour)

 

After a serious injury, Leigh has some excellent advice for anyone who suffers a setback.

“There are a lot of small steps physically, but it’s a mental battle too. There are some days when things won’t go as smoothly, and you kind of think ‘am I going backwards here, or have I damaged something?’

You can’t help but have those feelings, no matter how big or small the injury, but it’s just the body getting used to getting back to that top level again, so you have to stay positive, keep the body and brain facing forward, and aim for a return to the field. It’s tempting to feel sorry for yourself, or isolate yourself too, but the support of my friends, family and teammates was immense. I had social media support as well, and that was incredible.”

Finally, with the Six Nations under way, Leigh is pleased with how the Welsh squad is looking.

“A lot of guys have been in the squad since before the 2011 World Cup, when people saw us as a young squad, but we made a semi final. On top of that, though, we’ve got some new, exciting talent coming in as well, guys who have been playing extremely well for their regions. The squad’s in a great place, and the experience that a lot of guys picked up in the New Zealand tour in the summer can only help.”

Halfpenny was speaking at the launch of the inaugural Under Armour Series, record.underarmour.com

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