5 Easiest Ways An Athlete Can Improve Their Sports Performance
Understand that there are no shortcuts
I lied on the title of this blog. The truth is that everyone is looking for easy and comfortable ways to get better. The reality is that getting better is hard, but once you get out of your comfort zone and stretch yourself to to improve, you’ll realize that you’ve grown in more ways than just your athletic performance. The saying “if it was easy everyone would do it” is exactly right. The standouts are the athletes that understand that training is not easy, and that if they want to improve they need to do things that their competitors aren’t willing to do. You need to be willing to sacrifice the three biggest aspects of your life - time, energy, and money.
Sacrificing time means more than just giving up 2 hours of Fortnite or telling your friends your going to be a little late. Successful athletes structure their time efficiently in order to achieve their highest priority goals.
Sacrificing energy means that your life isn’t going to be comfortable. You have to be willing to not only work hard in training, but conserve energy during the day and get enough sleep so you have energy to be able to train hard.
Sacrificing money is one thing you can get away with not doing if you are very efficient with your time and energy. However, if you are complaining that a gym membership is too expensive or that eating healthy cost too much, you should also think twice before buying a new pair of shoes or video game.
Find a support system
Finding people who share your drive and passion for training is not easy. Even if you play a team sport, you may find that your teammates aren’t as committed to working hard as you are. Even your coach may seem unwilling to answer all of your questions or push you past your limits in training. Finding either a team, gym, coach or just friends that are committed to the same goals and willing to push you and support you is crucial to being a successful athlete. Sometimes this means tapping into your time, energy, and money. You might have to travel long distances to find a program that is really going to push you. Some really good programs can be intimidating from the outside, and it is going to stretch you to reach out to them. However any legitimate program will never turn someone down who is willing to train as hard as possible to get better.
Consistent lifting schedule
One of the biggest downfalls of athletes is that they are inconsistent with their lifting. It could either be that they don’t understand the value of it or they are lazy, but either way they are missing out on biggest area of development out there. Consistent training comes back to time prioritization. So many athletes have good intentions, but then they procrastinate on writing a paper and have to skip lifting to finish it. There are infinite excuses for skipping lifting, but is the people who make lifting a priority and don’t make excuses that are successful.
A consistent lifting schedule will help you make steady strength gains. Lifting 4 days one week and 2 days the next impacts both the amount and type of work you can get in and prevents the body from adapting to the same stimulus.
Learn the Olympic lifts
The olympic lifts are not easy to learn, and almost impossible to learn correctly on your own. Once again, it will take time, energy, and money to find someone qualified to teach you properly. The olympic lifts provide every adaptation any type athlete needs to improve. They not only improve your mobility, stability, explosiveness, strength, and technical awareness, but force you to execute all of these factors at once in a single movement. Having strength and stability at a deep range of motion is crucial to both performance and injury prevention in field and contact sports when you never know what position you are going to land in. Raw explosiveness and mobility improves every sport whether you are a long distance runner adding pop to your step while out kicking your opponent or a lineman trying to get lower and hit harder than the guy across from you.
Taking supplements is the only thing on this list that is actually incredibly easy. However, I put it last to emphasize that all of the above measures must be taken before you actually make improvements when taking supplements.
Creatine is the most research supported supplement for performance improvement out there. Creatine helps you train at the highest intensity for a little longer, increasing the the total work volume of your training. It is best for football players and throwers that don’t need to worry about a little weight gain, but can also be used on the off season for any other athlete looking to get a little more strength gain before the season.
Whey protein is the recovery king. If you are always feeling tired and sore from your workouts, take a protein shake afterwards to make sure your muscles fully repair and recover. For athletes maintaining a specific body weight, beware of the extra calories from the shake.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.