Last week I mentioned how time is not a friend to an athletes’ career, and time spent wasted is something you can not get back. But what can athletes do when they don’t seem to have time but still need to cram other things in?
Be More Efficient:
It’s easier said than done, but all athletes should take advantage of the opportunities to get better when they present themselves. For example; How many athletes do you see go through their warm ups haphazardly, or without purpose? The warm up is an opportunity to work on so many aspects of training, such as posture, proprioception, spatial awareness, form and technique to name a few. Unfortunately we see so many athletes not take advantage of this opportunity to get better. Being more efficient with the time you have, will not gain you more time, but it will allow you to do more in that time frame which in essence is like having more time.
Rest and Recover:
Athletes do not spend enough time recovering from all their training and practicing. Improvements are made during the recovery period. Your brain shifts short term memory items to longer term memory when you sleep. The body repairs muscle damage, while you sleep. Sleep is where most of what you spent doing in the day translates into improvements going forward; yet so many athletes when given the opportunity, will stay up late watching TV, texting with friends or playing video games. If you wouldn’t skip practice to do those things, why would you skip sleep to do those?
Fuel the Body Properly
You can’t fuel a jet with gas from your lawn mower, yet so many athletes who want to perform at a high level will fuel their bodies with junk food. The body can adapt for a while before all the consequences of it having to adapt to your not fueling it with enough vitamins and minerals catches up. You want to be shorter than you are genetically capable of, you want to have weak bones and/or muscles, you want an impaired immune system, do you want impaired decision making? The body will pull what it needs from other systems so that you can practice, but if you don’t put those nutrients back in, expect to be a high level athlete for not very long.
We hear it all the time, that athletes can’t miss practice. In reality though, you miss practice when you are sick, when you are on vacation, if the coach cancels it because of the weather or if they have something come up. Practice is not the mandatory end all be all that most coaches would like you to think. Practice is only beneficial if it improves your short term and long term abilities. If you are over-stressed or over worked, practice and/or training can be bad for you. If you do not have the requisite strength or gross motor skills necessary to perform the fine motor skills, movements or techniques that your sport requires, how is practicing going to make you better? This is even more so true for younger and less developed athletes. If you don’t make time to fix these weaknesses your game or your body will suffer at some point. Take the time needed to build the foundation needed to create a bigger athlete. There is a quote in the coaching circle that goes; “The greatest ability is availability.” Another similar one is “Durability is the greatest ability.” We have a saying at Red Zone Training, “You can’t get better if you are hurt.”
Even if you can’t get in to train with us, incorporating the other 3 strategies above will go a long way in helping with your availability and durability.