Today athletes are bombarded with new trends, technologies, and training methods. More often than not, young athletes get easily attached and overemphasize these bright and exciting things. It’s important to not get so caught up in these minor factors and remain fixed on the major pieces that lead to long lasting sustainable athletic improvement. Sure they might not be as exciting but they are the most important. Let’s break down these 4 factors a little more.
1. Consistent Sport Specific Training
Atomic Habits Author James Clear writes, “Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.” Regardless of the sport you are in, consistency is key towards greater heights. Consistency as a long distance runner is about logging the miles, consistency on the court is taking shots, consistency of the field is passing or throwing the ball. Every individual uniquely has a set of sport specific demands that are essential for success. Focus on the system and habits you have, not simply the goals.
2. Eating Like An Adult (Appropriate Calories & Adequate Protein)
Quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to nutrition for athletes. Training not only breaks down muscle fibers but it also drains the body of essential micronutrients needed for energy, metabolism, bone health, and muscle development. The two most important factors towards successful athletic nutrition is adequate protein and appropriate calories. When protein is lacking, the body cannot recover as it should and muscle development is hindered. When appropriate caloric intake is not there, hormones suffer, metabolism slows, injury rate rises, and sleep quality suffers. As a college athlete, I’ve found success on 1g of protein per pound of body weight regardless of the time of year. Adequate protein crushes cravings, helps build muscle, and support a lifelong body of longevity.
3. Sleeping Like a Baby (8+ hours)
It is during sleep that the human body recovers like no other time during the day. We must never neglect the importance of sleep and assume minor recovery tactics like stretching, foam rolling, and ice bathes will take care of the recovery process. Sleep is far far more important than those minor tactics of recovery. Be bold and always prioritize 7-9 hours of sleep a night before worrying about anything else. Studies have shown the importance of sleep for athletic performance, recovery, and injury prevention, nothing can compare of compete with the importance of sleep for the recovery process.
4. Strength Training (Season Dependent)
Muscle is not only essential for power and speed on the court, field, or course, it is also crucial for injury prevention and training load. Without muscle, the body will never be capable of reaching new levels of fitness. Muscle also plays an incredibly important role in lifelong injury prevention. Many sports require repetitive skeletal and muscular stress (ie. pitching, throwing, kicking, running, etc.) Many of these repetitive motions can result in muscle imbalances across the body.