Be a Student of Your Sport: Become A Smarter Athlete
Standing on top of the
podium takes more than just dedication and determination on the field, court or
track. To optimize performance in skill, strength and speed every athlete also
needs to master the ins and outs of priming their mind and body outside of
their sport. Here are a few things you can do outside of practice to give
yourself a leg up on your competitors.
1) Learn the intricacies
of your sport by studying the world’s most successful athletes. Whether that’s
watching film or reading up on technique, find out how you learn best because
the more insight and knowledge you can acquire may put you one step ahead of
your competitors. This includes asking your coach questions, being opened
minded to correction as well as learning from previous successes and failures.
2) Much of athletic
performance plays on an athlete’s mental capabilities, strength and confidence.
Building confidence through visualization can lead to reduced anxiety and
stress, something most athletes experience. Exercising the mind takes time and
a lot of practice. Don’t expect drastic results overnight.
3) This may sound cliché
but it is incredibly important for every athlete to set goals. Whether big or
small, write your goals down or verbalize to a coach or teammate. Setting goals
gives you something to work toward, holds you accountable will keep you
4) It’s essential to not
overlook the importance of proper nutrition and hydration. Eating healthy well
balance meals rich in carbohydrates, fat and protein can drastically improve
athletic performance. This includes whole grains, plenty of vegetables and
fruits, lean meats and unsaturated fats. In, addition, a staple of every
athletes diet must include WATER as it helps to regulate many bodily functions
such as temperature, blood pressure and electrolyte balance.
5) An athlete’s body also needs
proper time for rest and recovery in order to acquire the necessary gains from
training. Recovery refers to actively engaging in techniques that repair the
body such as stretching, foam rolling, massage and icing. Non-active rest and
adequate sleep (7-10 hours a night) improves speed, accuracy and reaction time and
allows the body time to repair tissue damage and replenish energy stores.
6) Finally, have fun and
enjoy what you’re doing.
“Don’t be fooled by the romanticism and appeal of those
successful few at the top. The journey to the top is challenging, tough, nasty
and without the thrill of luxury.” -Matt Dixon