How to be a better athlete. I like moving; it feels good and keeps me healthy. I’m also a competitive person and I like to do my best. This comes out in me when I’m dancing and frankly I want to be good, well no not just good, but great! The same goes for when I’m running. I’ll start and tell myself that this will just be an easy day, but somehow right after I start I take note of how my body feels and if it’s doing okay then I push myself. I just can’t help it. It’s amazing how I can feel like I’m on top of the world after a great run or a great class or feel like throwing in the towel when my body doesn’t respond the way I want it to.
HOW TO BE A BETTER ATHLETE
Play the part. It doesn’t really matter if you are going pro or just being very athletic, but when you play the part you’ll quickly see how much further you’ll get. It’s not enough just to talk and think about it, but rather it’s about incorporating your sport into your daily routine. My running works in cycles, but when I’m training then I’m training. It might be hard and I might want to slack off, but when I commit to going to the gym in the morning I go. It’s as simple as that. After a while, I stop making excuses and finding reasons not to go and it becomes a part of my daily routine. Another aspect to playing the part is visualizing your athletic successes. When you can clearly see your accomplishments they are more likely to happen. A big part of being an athlete, after all, is the mental game you play with yourself.
Be in the moment. When there are other things going on in your life it’s easy to half show up to a class or a training session. The trick is to leave your life at the door and to focus solely on yourself for the hour or two that you are in training. Focus on improving your game or focus on improving your technique. This is very important for several reasons. The first is that by focusing on your body, you are less likely to get injured, but you’ll also see a huge growth in your learning curve. You see, when you feel each muscle working you, start learning about your body and how it works and that makes you stronger at your sport of choice.
Become an expert. I’ve had some phenomenal teachers in my life and I respect them immensely, but what I never did is trust them blindly. Instead, I’ve always tried to take responsibility for myself. Knowledge is power and the more you know about human anatomy and the ins and outs of your sport, the better and stronger you will be. The more you know about how your body works, what works and what doesn’t work, the easier it will be to tailor your workouts to your needs. Everyone is different and everyone’s muscles perform differently. You might need a longer warm up than some or a longer cool down or even a longer resting period. You’ll also get to know your weaknesses and be able to focus on strengthening them.
Understand your training. Every sport has specific exercises that it’s tied to. Sure, there is some crossover, but there’s a reason for every type of workout. I’ll revert to dance for a moment. Every ballet class in the world, for example, follows the same patterns. The reason for this is to specifically (aka slowly) warm up a dancer’s body and to prepare them for a day of rehearsals and perhaps performances. Runners, hockey players, baseball players will also all have their specific ways of warming up, cooling down and training their bodies before a game. When I was actively working as a trainer, I spent a lot of time learning sport specific movements so that I could provide my clients with sport specific exercises.
Learn and move on. Look, you will make mistakes and not every training day will be equal, so the lesson to take away is that there is always tomorrow. When something doesn’t go as planned, learn from it, figure out what went wrong, how you can improve and then let it go. If you start to dwell on every little thing that didn’t work, you’ll never be able to move forward and you might even start repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
Keep training even when you aren’t. You should be thinking about your sport even when you aren’t training for it at this moment. If you are a runner then don’t be afraid to throw stretches into your morning routine. Also, make sure to always fill your body with the fuel it requires to perform at its best.
Set goals. This should be pretty self explanatory, but it’s all a part of having an athletes mentality. A goal can be big like scoring points in a game or small like training a few more minutes on any given day. Keep setting goals and keep pushing yourself to make improvements.
Not only will these tips help you become a better athlete, but they can also be applied to all aspects of your life which, in turn, will make you a better person.
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