Whether it’s extreme pro-athlete training or regular amateur sport, getting fit and able to perform at your best has many steps and stages that, if you pass through them, will produce better outcomes in your chosen discipline. If you’re a performance athlete on a bike, in the pool or running, you’ll be able to shave seconds off your personal best times. If you’re a weightlifter or a javelin thrower, you will hit those elusive higher numbers, while if you’re involved in a team sport, taking collective steps to improve your sporting performances will certainly result in more wins and fewer losses. Here are some tips for improved sports performance.
Buy the Correct Gear
You may have heard the term ‘all the gear, no idea’ which is used to describe newbies to a sport who have invested in all the equipment and yet don’t know how to use it. The truth of the matter is that it’s your ability to use equipment wisely that makes the best or most suitable equipment so desirable to improve performance, but if you’ve got your technique well-refined, buying the best kind of equipment will stand you in good stead to improve on your performance.
There are so many different types of performance-enhancing equipment on the market that it can be difficult to know what to choose. This is where asking your coach, a trainer at the gym or an advisor in your local stores will help you select the right product for you. Don’t be put off if you believe your sport requires no equipment. After all, even runners need trainers, and trainers come in a fantastic variety of weights, with insoles and heels angled and padded to the unique football of your personal gait. Look into improving your equipment, and you’ll see a parallel improvement in performance.
Up Your Training
Perhaps the most obvious of all, it’s easy to picture a graph of improved training regime and improved resultant performance. It’s the rules that serious athletes live by and the means through which amateur athletes are able to pass into the realms of the pro. But actually getting there, stepping up your training, requires more than simply doing more reps in the gym. You’ll have to find more time in your week’s schedule to train, and more energy to pull off the extra amount of training. You’ll need self-determination and grit, and resilience to injury.
Even if you have all of these factors, there’s still the question of how exactly one ought to step up their training. If you’re a soccer player, for instance, with two team training sessions per week, you have the choice of solo training with a ball, fitness training, weights training, reactions training, and an array of more specialist training methods depending on how pro you’re looking to go. It can sometimes be a little daunting to choose between all the methods of extra training on your own, but for nearly all sports, heading out on extra fitness-enhancing runs, cycles, swims or rows is a good place to start.
The other key pillar of an athlete’s physical prowess is eating well. You won’t be able to properly improve your performance in the sport to a sustainable degree without also focussing more explicitly on your diet and the food that you put into your body to fuel cardio exercise routines and to help muscles grow larger and stronger after being worked in the gym. Dietician’s advice is worth consulting either in person or online as there’s little point in changing your diet without the sports science to adequately back up your decisions.
In general terms though, an increase in your training should coincide with an increase in carbohydrate consumption to give you the right amount of energy not to burn out. Protein in the form of vegetables, meat, and dairy, or in protein shakes, is broken down into amino acids that help repair torn muscle tissue which is a crucial part of growing larger, stronger and better-performing muscles. Above these two important building blocks, getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals in your system through fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, and pulses will all bolster your immune system, making you more healthy in general.
Drop Bad Habits
You can do all the best training the eating in the world, but if you maintain bad and unhealthy habits, you will never perform at your peak in your chosen sport. One of the biggest detriments to sporting performance is harmful habitual drug use; smoking, for example, does damage to the lungs, which are the major organ through which aerobic and anaerobic exercise takes place. Any sport that gets you out of breath, therefore, is hampered by smoking regularly, so it might be a good time to consider quitting the cigarettes in favor of your ambitious planned sports improvement.
There are other drug habits too which can be considered bad not only in sports but your general day-to-day life. They’re often habitual and can go ever so slightly unnoticed, but if you have an alcohol or drug problem, it is almost certainly holding you back in some way from achieving your sporting dreams as well as functioning well in life. There are centers of alternative behavioral care that are designed to help people through their drug problems to a place where they can start building up to their potential. Be honest with yourself about your bad habits as they can sometimes be hidden in plain sight.
Find Better Coaches
Brutal yet necessary if you’ve plateaued in performance with the same coach, the option should always be there for you to move on as an athlete to a new set of training principles if you wish to keep on the up and up. Some sports performers will not have a personal coach as they’ll not be operating on such a level, but in this case, the same principle should apply to your self-coaching. Give your whole training philosophy the once-over with a fine-toothed comb to tease out any poor areas, bringing in new training methods in their place that you’ve found on the internet.
As well as replacing coaches and replacing your training philosophy with a new one, there’s a mentality to achieving peak performance that often goes understated but is, in fact, a large and significant part of an athlete’s upward trajectory. Your mentality as a high-performance athlete needs to be positive, determined, and willing to push your limits whenever you train. Most elite athletes will quote mentality and mental fortitude as one of the key pillars of their success, so ensure that you’re concentrating on your own in order to improve your sports performance.
Take Adequate Downtime
The route to sporting success is not as simple as training as much as possible until you make significant improvements. Alongside any intense and well-orchestrated training regime should run an equally important but oft-overlooked necessary downtime. This time should include everything from taking long post-workout warm-downs and baths or showers to the sort of indulgent self-care that takes place on at the couch in the evenings in front of your favorite TV show.
Never run the risk of burning the candle at both ends and burning yourself out with the intensity of your regime. Instead, make sure that there’s a balance to the training and the progress you’re planning on achieving. The king of all downtime is the time you spend sleeping. If you are a serious athlete looking to break new barriers of performance, you should have a sleep schedule and routine that guarantees your body all the time it needs to rest, repair and replenish in between training sessions.
Never Stop Enjoying It
A small last note but one that would seem fairly important after the list of self-discipline requiring steps above - ensure that your performance improvement in your chosen sport or activity is making you happy and healthy, and is helping you have fun! There is absolutely no point in becoming a better athlete if you are miserable during the training sessions or too burned out to hang out with friends on the weekend or perform at work to the point at which you’re raising eyebrows.
It is in this sense that you should know your limits and never overtake yourself with a training regime, a dietary plan, or a mentality that forces you to act and behave in ways that are no longer fulfilling or enjoyable. Improving your sports performance should always be an enjoyable and highly-motivated occurrence. In any case, if you begin to stop enjoying the training, the improvements will likely die off too. So much in sport is about the mentality that you should value your happiness and wellbeing above all else in your quest for optimal sports performance.
Whether it’s on the track and field circuit, on the sports field, in the pool, the gym, or the squash court, your chosen athletic ability will always have room for improved performance. Use the pointers outlined above to hone your skills in the direction of optimized performance so you can achieve your potential and become the athlete who’s lain dormant inside for so long.