How to Achieve Peak Performance as an Athlete
Playing a sport at school is a great choice; it helps you keep fit, handle stress, make friends, build confidence, sleep better, and even improve concentration and mental sharpness. So here are some tips to help you get the most out of your sport, play to your full potential and achieve peak performance as an athlete.
Is Stretching Good For Athletes?
First, make sure you stretch after your warm up, and again after you are finished. A lot of muscle tears and chronic inflammatory conditions are caused by inadequate stretching.
Teenagers are more prone to this than adults because when you are in a growth phase you are less flexible. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds. Never push a stretch so far that you are in severe pain, and repeat each stretch several times for maximum benefit. Even an extra 2-3 minutes a day could be the difference between a pain free season and a season ending injury.
What Is A Healthy Snack For Athletes?
Second, your muscles need the right fuel to work correctly. Eating a snack around 30 minutes before your practice can give you the extra energy to do your best. Ideal snacks have some carbohydrate, protein, and even a little fat for sustained energy.
Great options include a smoothie made with greek yogurt, apple slices with cheese or peanut butter, or in a pinch, even chocolate milk. Avoid pure sugar such as candy, soda, juice or Gatorade. They give you a quick burst of energy but it soon fades and you can struggle in the second half of practice or your game. Lots of people use caffeine to help boost workouts.
While this does work, I do not recommend using energy drinks or caffeine supplements (even natural ones) as the caffeine levels are so high they can cause heart arrhythmias when used in excess, or when dehydrated.
How Do Athletes Keep Hydrated?
That brings me to our 3rd point: HYDRATION. Drink enough water that your urine is clear or very light yellow. You have to drink water all day long to be hydrated by practice time, you can’t just throw some in there at 3 pm. Proper hydration is needed for optimal muscle performance and the prevention of heat stroke.
Do Athletes Get Enough Sleep?
The last part of our optimal performance equation is rest. Getting enough sleep is a challenge during school and can be even harder with church and club sport commitments. An active teen needs between 8-10 hours EVERY NIGHT. Almost no one gets this much, so take advantage of opportunities to catch up on sleep when they arise, and you may need to cut back on activities if you become exhausted.
Conclusion on Achieving Peak Performance as an Athlete:
Although there are many things a student athlete can do to improve their performance, there are 4 essential things you must do to get peak performance. Proper stretching both before and after exercising will keep your muscles performing well. Putting the right fuel in your body will help keep it going. Making sure you drink plenty of water will help prevent heat stroke. Finally, getting enough sleep by balancing sports and life schedules will keep you at peak performance.
For other advice on general diet and exercise health, see here.
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