Coastal Athletic Connection
Langley, Walnut Grove and Surrey's constant source of quality information in the Sports Performance, Strength and Conditioning, and Nutrition fields.
5 Keys to Optimal Performance Training
When it comes to winning at your chosen sport, proper performance training can also give you a
competitive edge – that is if you focus on the right things in the right balance. Here are 5 things you
need to help you dominate your opponents next season.
1) Time to practice your sport
Now before your roll your eyes and say something like, “thanks Captain obvious”, please
remember that this (even though you already know it) needs to be mentioned any time training
is talked about. In a desire to enhance sport performance, some athletes mistakenly focus
too much on training and not enough on practicing their skills. In most sports, especially team
sports the single most important thing you can do is to practice your sport. Proper performance
training needs to be approached in light of this. As a result, you cannot afford to waste your
time or energy doing anything less than the very best, most time-efficient exercises and training
strategies. Do not get side-tracked with all the cool new training toys or silly ideas that permeate
the industry. The goal with training is to get the most benefit from the least amount of time and
energy so you have the necessary time and energy to focus on your sport skills.
2) Take care of your health
Health is one of those things we tend to ignore until we do not have it. When training for
realize is that performance training is built on a foundation of health. High quality nutrients, aoptimal
athleticperformance, many people forget about health. However, what many fail to
good night sleep, rest, stress management and all the other things you know you should do for
health must be done on a regular basis. A healthy body allows you to train harder, recover faster
and extend your athletic career.
3) Learn to move well
Physical therapist and FMS (functional movement screen) co-founder Grey Cook has two
quotes that bear repeating: “first move well, then move often” and
“don’t build fitness ontop of dysfunction.” The foundation of athletic performance training is quality movement.
This can start with having and FMS screen done which screens your ability to do seven basic
human movements. Based on the results of the screen you can identify and
address movementproblems that if left alone will likely side-line you with an injury.
In addition to a movement screen, fundamental athletic movements should also
be taught. One of the many problems of early sports specialization is that many
young athletes are never taughtfundamental athletic movements such as: the
athletic position, stopping, starting, landing, sprinting, jumping, cutting, tumbling
and how to fall. As a result, by the time I get athletes in university, many of them
should really be called “sports specialists”. Sure they are great at theirsport, but
if you watch them move, many are not what you would call “athletic”. In addition to
increasingyour risk of injury, poor athletic movement can actually hinder vital performance
qualities such as speed and vertical jump.Movement quality should always be focused on
when training to improve performance. This includes not only corrective exercises and
movement skill coaching, but technique on all exercises should be carefully coached.
Proper exercise technique reduces your risk of injury, improves your results and helps to
enforce quality athletic movement.
4) Improve total body balance
When most people hear the word “balance” they immediately think about standing on a wobble
board or doing weights while standing on a Bosu ball. While these “balance” tools can be helpful
in a rehabilitation context, this is not what I mean by balance and this is not what you need to
improve your sport performance.
For performance enhancement and injury risk reduction, keeping mobility, stability and strength
balance in your body is essential. The challenge for the athlete is that sports specialization
creates imbalances in the body and these imbalances greatly increase your risk of injury.
Remember that it does not matter how good you are at your sport if you are injured and
watching from the sidelines. To improve your sport performance and reduce your risk of
injury, it is not just enough to train sport-specific movements. You need to train muscles and
movement patterns that are not worked in your sport to keep your body balanced. A properly-
conditioned athletic body is balanced – front, back, left and right.
5) Put more force into the ground
When it comes to pure athletic performance, the difference-maker is how much force you can
put into the ground and how quickly you can apply that force. For this reason, appropriate
versions of squats, deadlifts and explosive lifting variations offer a tremendous opportunity to
take your athletic performance to the next level. However, too many programs and coaches are
polarized on this one. Either they just do this or they spend all their time on the other things and
dismiss basic barbell training as “old school”.
In addition to the physical benefits of basic strength training, do not forget about the mental
benefits. Heavy strength training builds not only your body, but also your mind. It makes you
mentally tougher and gives you the psychological edge going into a game knowing that you are
stronger than your opponent.
Putting it all together
When it comes to enhancing your athletic performance, it is important that you do not lose sight of any
of 5 keys. All too often coaches or athletes place too much emphasis on one of them at the expense of
the others and as a result, they play far below their potential. Do some honest, self-reflection and seek
the advice of an experienced coach and ask which of these 5 things you need to focus on more to take
your game to the next level.
Andrew Heming, MS, CSCS