Preparation takes on many forms. Each aspect of proper preparation has a unique component that is designed to get you mentally and physically prepared for practice or competition. The goal is to approach preparation (a pivotal component to athletic success) in sport by tackling the four pillars of performance; mindset, nutrition, movement, and recovery.
In the world of optimized performance, taking time to focus on these 4 categories will drastically improved cognitive function, skill acquisition, muscular function as well as strength, speed and power, also known as your ability to ‘win’. Once you have established a routine that encompass these 4 pillars, the preparation becomes quite easy.
Here are some strategies for each of the pillars that we use or recommend with our athletes.
Mental/Mindset: The phrase “Starting with Why” developed by Simon Sinek, is definitely the best place to start, but in our experience, that is often challenging to uncover in athletes young and old. Instead, start with a goal, aim or objective. This will allow you to plan, strategize and execute in a direction. Once you are moving, then the ‘Why’ may become more clear. Remember, it is ultimately about the person you become, not the object you seek, that makes the journey worthwhile. Focus on the process to get you to your goal, and focus on your goal to get you through the process.
Nutrition: Much like anything, nutrition is highly individual. General recommendations for meals, diet plans and portion sizes are all highly dependant on the individual athlete and the situation, as well as a host of other variables. When it comes time to prepare for practice or competition, as a general guideline, you should be consuming a 2:1 carbohydrate:protein. People following a Keto based diet would read this and recommend no carbs and move fats. For that reason, it is best to listen to your body. No one thing is going to be the right answer everyone, every time, but ultimately if you are able to narrow your pre-workout meal or snack (or any meal for that matter) to something that give you ample amounts of fuel and clarify, without spiking your blood sugar, you are in a good place!
Movement: Muck like nutrition, each individual moves differently. One athlete may feel a stretch, while their teammate right beside them, in the some position, feels nothing, or worse, pain. For this reason, team based movement and skill preparation often look very similar from age to age and sport to sport. It is recommended that as a team, you develop a routine that progressively increase heart rate, circulation, mental clarity, neural drive and moves from general to specific skills. This team based routine is just as much about getting athletes moving as it is about getting the team to gel. On an individual scale, that same movement routine will, if done properly, challenge each athletes capacity within the same movement skills. This is ultimately the goal of the preparation routine; a group of individuals, working on tuning their bodies for performance while working together as a collective group. When you see that ‘poetry in motion’ it is truly effortless and athletes are able to achieve a ‘flow’ state that carries them through the day.
Recovery: Just because the practice, workout or competition are over, doesn’t mean that the “preparation” is over. Far from it. Preparation is, in its truest sense, “beginning with the end in mind”. Recovery (or regeneration or restoration) is an essential component to performance gains. Spending time at the end of practice reviewing the ‘game plan’, or rolling out after a heavy lift, or fueling your tired muscles after a long tournament are all steps necessary to ensure that you are able to compete the next day. Recovery also encompasses rest. Ample sleep, especially for growing athletes is a must. Setting some guidelines or boundaries around bedtime, computer or screen time can be challenging, but will ultimately result in greater muscular repair, motor learning and mental clarity.
To find out more about our training and holistic approach to athlete development, check us out at www.rpgtrainingsystems.com, London’s Newest High-Performance Training company.