As an athlete, there is no doubt that you want to succeed. You put in the effort, spend countless hours training and improving, even more hours discussing, analysing and dreaming about your sport.
The scary thing is that for everything you do there is someone out there doing that and more! They’re pushing themselves a bit harder, doing a bit extra and recovering a bit better. So here is a list of things that you could do to catch up:
1) Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Night. Something that is clear when it comes to sleep and performance: you need plenty of quality sleep! There are many ways you can improve the quality of your sleep but one easy way is to go to bed and awake at the same time every night. Simple.
2) Stretch Daily. There are 1,440 minutes in the day and there is no way you can convince anyone that you couldn’t find 10 to stretch some of the major muscles you (ab)use daily. And you’ll feel so much better.
3) No More Fast Food. Not as a treat or snack or a reward. Cut it out. McDonalds, KFC, etc. have no place in an athlete’s diet. There are plenty of other tastier, healthier alternatives.
4) Attack Your Weaknesses. We all prefer to focus on our strengths – it is easier and definitely more comfortable. However, it might be that weakness that is holding you back. Add an extra set on your weaker leg, ask a sibling to help you out or stay after practice for some more individual work (your coach will only be too pleased to see your initiative!). Just 10 minutes, five times a week would give you over 20 hours of extra work a year!
5) Get Stronger. In over 15 years of working with athletes in a range of sports I have never heard a coach say ‘That athlete is too strong’. Neither has anyone I have ever talked to. Hit the gym or do some extra body weight exercises… You’ll see an improvement in your sport.
6) Train so hard your coach has to hold you back, not push you on. When was the last time you asked your coach for extra work? When was the last time you just went out and did a session by yourself? If you only do what your coach asks of you your success will be limited. If you have to be held back, there is no doubt you will succeed.
7) Turn off your phones, tablets, laptops & TV 30 minutes before you go to bed. We know sleep in vital to performance and these things are not good for your sleep. They stimulate your brain and make it hard to relax – not good if you need the recovery sleep provides.
8) Protein and 3 Colours at Every Meal. Eggs, asparagus (green), tomato (red) & banana (yellow). Salmon, capsicum, broccoli, & pumpkin (orange). Chicken, egg plant, zucchini, carrots. These are examples of what you major meals should look like. As a rule of thumb each colour represents a group of nutrients, so by having multiple colours during the day your body is getting a wide range of nutrients.
9) Recover Better. There are many sporting programs where the ‘recovery’ is scheduled into the annual plans but it doesn’t mean you can’t do extra. Jump on the foam roller, re-read point (2), book a massage yourself, splash around in a pool (especially if the water is cold), go for a body surf, take a friend to watch a movie, read a book.
Good luck and enjoy the rest of your journey.
PS You may have noticed that you can control every one of the above points (and most don’t cost a thing!).