I RECKON I’ve played more games of Scrabble in the past four weeks than I have in the past four years.

It’s not just Scrabble either. In the McCarthy household, we’ve had Monopoly on the go and been using several online apps for us to play card games and quizzes with other family members.

In the downtime from the physical training, which I explained in my last column, I’ve found one of the most important things has been keeping active mentally.

A lot of people focus on the physical side of things and ask how we all keep our bodies in shape but there is another side too.

During the season, my mind is always in gear focusing on areas to improve, watching clips of opponents and taking notes on new techniques and habits.

Therefore, something that has taken some getting used to and I’ve found very strange mid-season, is not having that intensity and structure week in, week out.

We can obviously do some research on opponents and video analysis but it’s limited. We also have online tools and guides provided by the club but I’ve actually also enjoyed finding other ways to keep my brain engaged and active.

That is where Scrabble has come in.

By nature, I’m super competitive and so, it doesn’t matter whether I’m playing a friendly game of Scrabble against Rachel, my fiancée, or online cards against my dad, my game face is always on.

I’m not a great loser either and so there have been a few disagreements over certain words. We agreed that we would allow certain footballers so I was stunned when Gabby (Manolo Gabbiadini) was not allowed and I lost a full 26 points. 

I won’t embarrass my opponents but I’m happy to report that I have a winning record and intend to keep it that way.

Apart from the other board games I’ve mentioned, I‘ve also been doing some reading to keep my mind ticking over. I always enjoy reading the stories of other sportsmen and sportswomen and learning about their journey. 

I’m also a bit of a Formula 1 nut and watch all the races so I’ve been having a read of one or two of my favourite drivers’ autobiographies including Jenson Button and Mark Webber.

When it’s time to relax, I’ve been working my way through series on Netflix like Money Heist and I’ve also watched a few films like the Diego Maradona documentary, which I saw for the first time and thought was brilliant.

I don’t have too much time for myself though as my two children, Baylie and Lake, are enjoying dad being home and are keeping me occupied.

They’ve had me in the kitchen making all sorts and got me fully involved with playtime.

Being able to spend this quality time with family, who have to make a lot of sacrifices during the season, has definitely been a big positive.

We are all in the same boat so if you’ve got any good suggestions or have found things that have worked for you, by all means, let me know via social media.

I hope you are all keeping well and please stay positive during this testing period.