This blog post will be a short one. Here’s a list of the top 10 health and performance-related practices I would recommend to competitive (particularly team sport) athletes… above all, balance, consistency and intrinsic drive are the key…
To quote Dr. Michael Yessis (Sport Performance Expert and English Translator for Anatoliy Bondarchuck):
“The one thing top-level performers have in common is repetition, repetition, repetition… and more repetition.”
1. Prioritise getting > 8 hours of sleep daily (and nap during the day). Good strategies include not using your phone >1hr before going to sleep, reading a book, sleeping in a cold room).
2. Prioritise your mental health and wellbeing. Talk to someone about your thoughts and how you feel, every week.
[Extracted from source, Rice et al. 2016] “…A greater risk of disorder may be experienced by elite athletes who are injured, approaching/in retirement or experiencing performance difficulty.”
3. If you have a soft-tissue injury, DO NOT drink alcohol, as it can substantially delay recovery. Alcohol can negatively alter normal immunoendocrine function, blood flow and protein synthesis so skeletal muscle recovery may be impaired.
4. Consume 1.5 to 2 g /kg of body weight of protein per day (or 0.3 g/kg per meal).
5. Ensure hydration at all times (even a loss of 2% bodyweight of water weight can compromise exercise performance, heat dissipation, and cardiovascular function).
Practical tip: you can estimate hydration status by measuring changes in body weight from pre- to post- workout, then operate accordingly.
Additional source – page 197: https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=bfuXCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=essentials+of+strength+training&ots=2etr4zzXUA&sig=vm5nltDybE5OTrVKa-9OLu226EA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=essentials%20of%20strength%20training&f=false
6. Pre-game or pre-practice: consume a carbohydrate-rich meal (140-330g) 3-4 h before practice or competition.
7. Don’t mock around with weird or fancy diets (e.g. keto, Atkins, plant-based, etc), recovery methods, training modalities (e.g. CrossFit) just because it’s trendy or looks cool.
Source: just don’t do it
8. We like to think of caffeine as a stimulant that will boost our performance, but, what about recovery? It seems that post-game or post practice co-ingestion of caffeine (e.g one or two coffees) and a carbohydrate and protein-rich meal (e.g. pasta with chicken, spinach and tomatoes) may enhance an athlete’s recovery. I find this fascinating to say the least…
9. Low back pain? Try isometric core training! says Dr. Stuart McGill :-)
10. Use off feet exercise modes (e.g. steady state cycling, rowing or swimming) to enhance recovery and training adaptation. Sessions should not exceed 25 minutes and intensity should be approximately 50-70% of Age-Predicted Heart Rate max.
High-level performance is very complex and this list is by no means exhaustive, just a quick 10 points with space for practice. My ultimate recommendation would be to try and tick 8 to 10/10 of these points, consistently well, and given appropriate training, you should be on your way to reaching your athletic potential. Hope this can be useful to you and or the athletes you work with; and if not, hopefully you enjoyed a quick read with links to even better ones!
Thanks for taking the time to read,
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