England winger Jonny May is the latest guest on the My Sporting Mind podcast

Jonny May speaks with My Sporting Mind podcast - Sporting Life's latest partner


Watch the latest episode of My Sporting Mind, as England rugby wing Jonny May discusses the pressure of playing under Eddie Jones, how he hones his craft, and more.

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My Sporting Mind...with Jonny May: S2 E3 - FULL INTERVIEW!

Highlights from episode four

Jonny May is the guest for episode four of the second series of My Sporting Mind.

The England wing discusses working under Eddie Jones, the processes he goes through, striving to find time to relax, and much more.

Listen to My Sporting Mind via the below links or scroll down for some of the highlights.


On being out injured...

"A cheek's a nice injury! After I had surgery, I could still run, lift weights, do everything I wanted to do. It didn't really affect me too much. The knee surgery wasn't a nice one. Being a winger, speed being important, to get your legs taken away from you... that was a long lay-off, 10 months-plus, potentially a career-ending injury.

"In sport you're going to experience that once at least. It's all part of the journey, the hurdles that come up when you least expect them. You just have to learn to come through them the other side, and learn about yourself through that process.

"I've always been diligent and disciplined with my stretching and my preparation, the way I look after myself physically. But once I experienced that knee injury I had to take it to a new level, in terms of my rehab had to be bang-on. I had to understand what my body needed, when it needed it. I wanted to come back better than I was before.

"It may me understand and appreciate just how hard I'm going to have to work (while) thinking I already was working hard. It's put me in good stead now. I'm 30 years old, I've looked after myself well, I feel good. Hopefully all of that work will see me paid back in the next few years of my career, when I can keep pushing it."

Jonny May scores England's third try against Italy

On process over outcome...

"I think there's all sorts of different challenges in life, and in sport. It's a constant learning process. It's a good lesson in life: focus on what you can control. Scoring tries for instance, that's an outcome, I'm not necessarily in control of that. It's not the be all and end all. Focus on my job, what I can control.

"That's the same with an injury. OK, I can't run right now, what can I do? The older I've got, the more I realise there's probably less you can control than you might think. That's quite scary, in some ways, but that's life.

"It's human nature to think about the future, goals, what you want out of things. Part of the mental side of training is to park that thought. If you do that, that gives you the best chance of getting the outcomes you want."

On visualisation...

"Each is to their own in terms of what mental strategies they have in place. For me, to start visualising things that haven't happened yet, those are distractions to me.

"As much as I go into the game hoping to play well, and of course it's human nature to want certain things out of a game, I really do try my best to be like 'right, park those thoughts'.

"The better I do that, the better I play: when I get the opportunities, I'm instinctive and decisive, because I'm not thinking about it. That's when I'm at my best."

On dealing with pressure...

"I certainly feel pressure. Mornings of games I feel awful: worried, anxious... it's just not a nice feeling, that anticipation of such a big, important thing. I've just learned to live with that. As much as I know it impacts me, I'm used to it because I've done it week in, week out.

"One thing that puts me in good stead is that I've always prepared for each game the same. I'm just as nervous for a Gloucester game or when I was playing in a second-team game or an England game. I've been able to manage the growth in pressure because I've treated every game the same.

"Of course I know when it's the World Cup final, but because I respect each game the same, and I want to do as well as I possibly can, that helps me prepare and be ready for it."

On playing under Eddie Jones...

"Eddie certainly has pushed me very hard. Especially in my early days, he'd criticise my strengths - he'd say I'm not fast enough and I don't score tries, I don't work hard, things like that.

"It was almost like a sink or swim sort of thing. He puts you under so much pressure, and challenges you so hard, there's only one of two ways you can go. It certainly has brought the best out of me. It took me to an uncomfortable place, but I think that's where growth happens, when you're challenged and put under pressure.

"If you work with Eddie, you learn quite quickly that you have to take his criticism on board else you won't play. Eddie presents you with a challenge: you take it on or you won't be there.

"My wife and my dad, and my mum, they're the people who have seen me through my toughest times. In any elite performance you need that level of challenge, but you also need that level of support.

"Things like a knee injury and Eddie Jones and England games, that's my challenge. My dad, my mum, my sister and my wife, that's my support - I need both those things."

On self-doubt...

"That's something I deal with - I doubt myself all the time, every day. That's a big driver for me: the fear of not getting better, the fear of letting myself down, the fear of letting my teams down. That's something that's in me, and it's something I've learned to accept.

"I've had to learn to trust being uncomfortable. If you want to get better, it's an uncomfortable place to be because nothing's good enough.

"It's a lot of pressure, but I wouldn't change it for the world."

On ignoring praise...

"I wouldn't really allow myself to listen to that sort of stuff, or read into it too much. I try to avoid it as much as I possibly can, I guess I'm quite sensitive deep down. I really do just want to have a simple life and work hard."

"Ultimately, the expectation I put on myself, how hard I am on myself, is greater than anything else can be. The reason I avoid all those things, it's just a distraction. There's nothing neutral in this world. Maybe if you read all that positive stuff it's false; if you read bad things they can drag you down a bit."

On stepping back...

"Sadly enough, (my focus) is pretty much all rugby. My challenge is finding time to relax and switch off, whether it be watching Netflix or having a coffee, I can see that there's benefit in that. In the past I can definitely be drawn into overdoing it, especially with my recovery. I'm learning that I need to take a break. I do pretty much live and breathe it.

"My three things that I work on are recovery, being resilient, and refining things. It's all about refining my craft. Being mentally and physically resilient is incredibly important. Recovery, I feel that is where the performance starts. If you don't recover properly, you can't be the best person you can be."

And finally, a word of advice...

"Everybody's got different ways, everybody's going to need different solutions. The two things that help for me are a) focusing on that process and b) trying to accept the things you can't change. It's more about persistence than perfection. Accept those imperfections, but make sure you keep at it."


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