Today I’m going to share with you some tips to help optimize your athletic performance.  For the last seven years I have used these helpful tips with my athletes of all ages and levels, and I’ve had great success with them.  As with anything in the performance field they are not set in stone, however, I trust you will all benefit greatly from implementing them in your performance training.  Whether you’re a competitive or a recreational athlete, I’m more than positive you will find these tips useful.

  1. Keep up with your foam rolling
    1. Often referred to as self myofascial release (SMR), or a poor man’s massage.  The research is pretty clear that consistent foam rolling implemented correctly helps release neuromuscular tension.  Which in turn will help improve muscular recruitment, blood flow, and injury reduction.  In short, the more pliability your muscles have, the more durability you’ll have.  
  2. Be consistent with your mobility
    1. This goes hand in hand with foam rolling, one is not better then the other but when the two are combined it’s a thing of beauty.  So, along the same lines as foam rolling, implementing mobility training, especially with the thoracic spine, hips, and ankle joint will significantly improve your performance, durability, and injury resiliency.  
  3. Train at different speeds
    1. Simply put, training at one speed all the time will set you up to get injured or make you slower.  If you’re a power athlete and you do a lot of steady state cardio, well that counter acts power training and could lead to injury; along those same lines, if you train power all the time and nothing else, you’re setting yourself up to get hurt as well.  Practicing to slow down your momentum, and learning to control movements strengthens your connective tissue and enhances your power.  To put it simply, your brain is a governor to your central nervous system, and it will only allow you to produce what it knows you can decelerate.  Coach Brett Bartholomew said it best, “Multi-planar force absorption enhances multi-planar force expression.” 
  4. Train with different types of resistances
    1. This next tip I feel is one of the most underutilized strategies in the performance training world.  By training with different resistances you’re improving the efficiency of your neuromuscular system to absorb and produce force.  Also, you’re strengthening your connective tissue and increasing bone density.  More importantly though, by exposing yourself to different types of resistances you’re not running the risk of overtraining. 
  5. Improve your fundamentals (General skills)
    1. Improving your fundamentals can go a long way into making you a more well rounded athlete.  Remember, training isn’t specific skills; meaning, if you want to improve your soccer or basketball skills, you have to go play soccer or basketball.  However, specific skills are are held together by your mastery of the general skills.  Think of your fundamental skills as a cup and your specific skills as water, the bigger I can make your cup by teaching you the fundamentals the more water I can pour into your cup.  However, on the flip side if you skip that step and don’t practice your fundamentals, if I try to pour more water into your cup, the water will just spill out of the cup.  
  6. Get outside of the saggital plane
    1. Moment isn’t linear, in fact our body works in slings (diagonals), it’s a wind up effect that helps us transfer force from our lower body to our upper body.  With that being said, don’t just train forward and backward, train laterally, and especially rotationally.  Remember the human body will adapt and progress based off of whatever environment you expose it to, so if your playing a sport like soccer that involves a lot of lateral and rotational movements but you just train linearly, you’re not going to reach your full potential as a soccer player.  Because all your exposing your body to is an environment where you have to move in a straight line.  To put it simply, your brain will only adapt to whatever you expose it to, so make sure your exposing it to the right environment.  
  7. Take some days off
    1. This is probably one of the, if not the, toughest strategy to teach people with their fitness.  You need days off so your body keeps adapting from the training and not just recovering all the time.  What I mean by that is it’s not how you recover, it’s how you adapt.  These two terms are often used synonymously with one another and they’re not the same principle.  Staying in the recovery phase because you train all the time is not going to enhance your overall performance.
  8. When it comes to power less is more
    1. Explosiveness not endurance is the term that’s more synonymous with power.  However, because of the popularity of crossfit, trainers started using exercises like box jumps and squat jumps to do conditioning.  Not only does this not train power, this is a good way to get yourself hurt; and, along those same lines remember the context in which you use explosive movements and I believer we can all agree that they’re better utilized for just that training explosiveness.  When it comes to plyometrics and explosive movements keep the sets between 3-5 and the repetitions as well; as well as, utilize those movements at the beginning of the workout when the neuromuscular system is fresh.  Power training is a wonderful component to your training routine, especially as you age, but you can do more with less.  
  9. Strength training is your foundation
    1. Strength training is the most important component to any exercise routine as I have mentioned earlier in this post.  Think of strength training as being the cup to your athletic potential, and the water being the sports specific components that is going into the cup.  Well I believe that it just makes sense that the bigger the cup the more water it can hold.  Strength training is considered general fitness training and because it has been categorized this way, it has been deemed unimportant, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  
  10. Stay away from too much steady state
    1. Simply put, too much steady state cardio makes you less explosive,  and more susceptible to injury, which in turn decreases your overall performance.  Now let me be clear, I’m not saying aerobic training is all bad and you should stay away from it entirely.  I’m simply stating what the scientific literature and my anecdotal experience as a trainer have taught me that is too much of one component (even resistance training) is not a good thing.  As well as, there are more efficient ways to train aerobically than just going for a 30 to 45 minute run or bike ride.  In conclusion, if your one who likes to run or bike ride go for it, I’m not saying don’t do it at all but just remember that strength training is the foundation of which all movement is built around.
  11. Durability is more important than ability
    1. We train our body’s so that they can withstand the stress of our sports, as well as, life.  So, this last point I challenge you all to look at training as practicing and not just exercising.  Simply put, lifting weights and doing intervals shouldn’t be just to make you look good.  That’s the by product, training is to help improve your body’s adaptability to stress.  Basically, we put stress on our body so when a similar stress comes we don’t get injured, because from having trained our neuromuscular and physiological system’s, they have already been exposed and adapted to a similar stress.  This principle is especially true whether your a competitive or recreational athlete because you can have a lot of talent and love you sport, however, if you get injured all the time it just makes sense that you can’t express that talent at your optimal level.