We’re living in a time where new discoveries are happening each day. The fields of nutrition, training, and recovery are becoming ever increasingly complex. However, in an effort to steer you in the right direction, here are five strategies to focus on for next level sports performance.
1. Approach your sport with an empowering mindset
Sometimes we overlook the mental side of things because it’s not as easily measurable as compared to the number of plates on the bar or the food on our plate. Nevertheless, your mindset is just as, if not more, important than your physical ability in reaching your highest performing state.
Look at professional sports, for example, lots of talented athletes, but the truly elite ones we know of are also the most mentally strong ones. Mastering your mind is a competitive advantage that can be used to achieve new performance goals and stand out from the competition.
There is a myriad of tools to use toward mental mastery. But the first one starts with setting specific goals so you can have something to focus on. The mind focuses on what you tell it to focus on, therefore, it’s wise to have a precise target in mind.
After you’ve established your goal, it’s important to practice visualization. Olympic athletes have been on record for stating the value of this. The biggest reason why it’s useful is that you can effectively tie what you’re doing on a daily basis to the big goal you’re pursuing. After all, it’s the daily monotonous habits that add up to become monumental achievements down the line.
2. Make sleep a top priority
There’s a reason why top athletes such as LeBron James emphasize recovery and sleep. It’s because it’s the greatest performance enhancer. Sleep has its fingertips at every facet of your life. When you’re training intensely each day, your body needs the rest to recuperate and build itself up stronger for the next day.
When you’re getting inadequate amounts of sleep, stress levels will rise, metabolism will drop, physical performance dips, and you’ll experience mental fatigue (think brain fog and poorer decision making). For those curious about fat loss, limiting your sleep reduces your ability to lose fat (actual link to study).
As you’re looking to optimize your sleep, no need to get fancy with your techniques and methods of actions. Simply start by going to sleep at the same time each night along with waking up at the same time. After choosing a consistent sleep and awake time, the next step is to give yourself an electronic curfew.
The blue light given off suppresses your melatonin which affects your sleep quality and ability to fall asleep. Start by reducing blue light 60-90 minutes before bed.
3. Obsess over the details (especially nutrition)
To maximize your performance in your sport, it’s imperative to fuel yourself properly. The details matter in athletics because it’s through those small and monotonous details that deliver you the slight edge over your competition.
An athlete can’t afford to eat whatever they want and operate with a random plan. One of the most basic habits to start with is becoming knowledgeable about the amounts of food you need to eat to properly fuel and sustain your performance on a daily basis.
To expand upon that, it’s a good idea to generally know the range of how much of each macronutrient you want along with prioritizing a diverse approach to your fruits and vegetables since each color provides different nutrients to your body.
Only after your nutrition is dialed in should you think about supplements. Remember that supplements are meant “to supplement” and fill in any nutrient gaps from your nutritional plan.
4. Focus on functional exercises and sport specific drills
Training for sports and performance is much different compared to merely wanting to sculpt your body. The training styles and objectives will be different. A bodybuilder or a general fitness enthusiast wanting to shape up will do more isolation exercises such as bicep curls to improve their aesthetics. An athlete would include more compound exercises and functional movements that are more transferable to their sport.
Functional routines with sport specific drills included are aimed to mimic the typical movements that the athlete would need in their sport along with preventing the possibility of an injury. A few examples of compound movements to be included in your functional routine could be deadlifts, Olympic lifts, and various forms of squats.
5. Track your progress
If you were just an average person or just working out recreationally, tracking progress isn’t as important. However, when you’re trying to improve and stay ahead of the competition, tracking your progress matters because you need to see if you’re improving.
Metrics such as strength, speed, and performance must be recorded. This provides feedback on your particular training program. If it’s not working, no need to freak out, you now have concrete evidence on what needs to be improved upon and can make more precise adjustments instead of merely gu