Playing sports requires a healthy and strong body and mind. Whether you’re into basketball, badminton, weightlifting, or any other sports activity, it’s important to be prepared by undergoing intense training. You can become the best athlete by tracking your progress and knowing your strengths and opportunities.
In this post, you’ll have an in-depth understanding of the best ways to become the best you when playing sports.
Improve Your Reaction Time
Athletic performance and reaction time are essential aspects of playing any type of sport. For you to attain optimum athletic performance, you have to make sure that you improve your reflexes and reaction time. Reactions refer to voluntary movements, and you can acquire speed and proper reaction to a specific stimulus through training.
Here are some tips to improve your reaction time:
- Relax: Remember that slow movement is caused by stiff muscles. Chill out and take some time to focus on your breathing or meditate for a better reaction.
- Play with loose change: Speed up your reflexes using spare pennies. Place one hand out with the palm facing the ground, then place a coin or several coins on top of the knuckles. Throw the coin upwards with the arm outstretched, and catch the coin using the same hand.
- Play a ball: It’s an inexpensive tool you can use to improve your reflexes. Throw the ball against a wall or any surface and catch it before going into your neighbor’s garden.
Improve Your Balance And Coordination
Proprioception refers to your sense of physical self, allowing you to move naturally and participate in physical activities. It has to do with the correct movement of your limbs. By having a good sense of proprioception, you’ll receive signals from your muscles, joints, and tendons so you can improve your day-to-day balance and coordination.
Here are some helpful training tips to improve balance and coordination:
- Close your eyes: When performing training exercises, close your eyes to have a general sense of your body’s direction. Practice simple exercises, like lifting dumbbells, push-ups, or riding a stationary bicycle, to help you focus on the sensations that are being sent through your body with your eyes closed. Focus on your body, including its movements, directions, and positions.
- Do some strength training: By incorporating strength training into your daily workout, you can improve your balance and coordination. It exercises your shoulders and knees, which are crucial in terms of proprioception. Also, you can build a stronger base by building the strength in your back, shoulders, and legs. Furthermore, building strong trunk muscles through core exercises enables you to hold your upper half more effectively, helping you avoid trips or falls.
- Perform balance exercises: Distribute weight evenly with balance exercises to help you when carrying heavy objects, leaning down, or when your one leg is injured. By improving your balance, you can avoid tumbling, falling downstairs, tripping, or injuring yourself. You can start performing balance exercises by standing on one foot for about 30 seconds at a time before switching to your other foot. Walking in a straight line also helps improve your balance. Water skiing, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding are also great activities to improve balance.
- Use plyometric exercises: Improve your proprioceptive signals or sense of self by using exercises that need coordination and quick footwork. One good example is running through a figure-eight pattern. While it could be physically demanding, make sure to stick to your capable level instead of clearing a four-foot hurdle without proper training.
Boost Your Endurance
It’s important to work your way up and build up your endurance if you want to be the best you when playing sports. But, how can you do it? The same principles apply for both basic and speed endurance to enhance your strength.
Here are some endurance-boosting strategies that work for a wide range of athletes:
- Gradual build up: Start with a slow and gradual endurance conditioning. For instance, runners can create an endurance-boosting program that adds one mile to their weekend long run, such as a six-, seven-, or an eight-mile run, and omits the long run on the fourth week for them to recover. The next week, start a nine-, ten-, or an 11- mile run.
- Long, slow distance training: It’s the most common endurance training and is the foundation of most marathon runners and long-distance cyclists. Also, it’s the easiest type of cardiovascular endurance training, which is ideal for novice exercisers.
- Tempo or pace training: It consists of endurance training at a steady and fairly high intensity, and which lasts from 20 to 30 minutes.
- Interval Training: It consists of short and repeated physical efforts for about three to five minutes, and followed by short break periods. You may incorporate resistance activities, like calisthenics and short bursts of cardiovascular exercises, into your interval training.
- Strength Training: It’s performed at least once a week to improve endurance (30 minutes worth of resistance exercises).
- Fartlek Training: It combines other training methods in the endurance training during a long and moderate training session. Here, the athlete adds some short higher intensity workouts.
- Circuit Training: It consists of specific exercises carried out within a short duration. The series of short exercises are rotated in quick succession, with short breaks or no rest in between.
Improve Eye Coordination
During a competition, when the mind of the player is focused on other matters, there’s less attention to depth of dynamic perception, which can significantly affect overall athletic performance. Having said that, sportsmen must devote time to optometric training or pure eye training to improve their performance.
With eye training sessions, an athlete will have a more dynamic eye perception. Even if you’re under a stressful condition, you should always have a good depth of dynamic perception. Having a fast-moving eye will make a huge difference in the results of the game.
Here are some ways to improve eye coordination:
- Seek an optometrist’s help: An optometrist can help measure your saccadic precision, which refers to the value that measures how fast your eyes move. The ideal saccadic precision for athletes is infinitesimal fractions of a second. In order to improve your saccadic precision, your optometrist will use panels wherein light is illuminated. This also improves your visual memory. Also, it can improve your hand-eye coordination, as well as reduce reaction times.
- Eye training technology: Eye training improves your concentration and stability. Luckily, advanced digital technology has paved the way for specific programs and devices that meet sports needs. With the help of touch screens (tablets to 55-inch screens), it’s now possible to train your saccadic precision. Technological improvements, such as using flickering LED lights along with athletic gestures, are useful for eye-hand coordination, as well as body-eye coordination. With strobe glasses, eye training is possible by perceiving individual frames, such as moving images, improving your resistance to visual stimuli. Also, 3D goggles are now used to train peripheral vision.
Choose The Right Diet For Peak Athletic Performance
A comprehensive eating plan is required for everyday training and faster recovery, and, most importantly, to ensure superior athletic performance. Your diet should match your physical demands, so your nutrition performance should complement your training.
As compared to an average person, the energy needs of an athlete are far higher (2,400-3,000 kcal per day for male athletes, and 2,200-2,700 kcal for female athletes). The primary source of energy is carbohydrates during higher intensity activities. The healthy sources of carbohydrates are fruits, vegetables, bread, pasta, and whole grain cereals.
Dietary protein also plays an important role in tissue repair and muscle growth. The best sources of protein are lean meats, dairy (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese), eggs, and legumes. In addition, dietary fat is important to meet your energy needs and support healthy hormone levels. The healthy dietary sources of fat include avocados, nuts, nut butter, and coconut and olive oils.
Here are some expert tips to improve your sports nutrition:
- Eat a balanced diet: Eat a variety of food, including large portions of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients and energy that are essential for training and recovery. Also, they are rich in antioxidants that help combat illnesses, such as flu. Your goal should be to eat at least five servings daily. One serving is about the size of a baseball. Vibrant Health Green Vibrance is a superfood that delivers nutrients that will optimize your health and wellness to ensure you have a balanced diet. You can find out more here.
- Choose whole grain products: It’s best to pick whole grain carbohydrate sources, like whole wheat bread and fiber-rich cereals, which are packed with energy. Limit consuming refined sugars and grains, like sugary cereals, bagels, and white bread.
- Choose healthy protein sources: Turkey, fish, chicken, peanut butter, nuts and legumes, and eggs are the best protein sources for athletes.
- Always stay hydrated: Even a slight drop in your hydration level can drastically impact your performance. That’s why you always need to be hydrated. Drinking milk and water are highly recommended. Be careful when drinking sports drinks and hundred percent fruit juices as these tend to have high sugar content, so avoid relying on these beverages for adequate hydration.
- Choose whole food: Instead of processed food, it’s better to eat whole food to maximize the nutrients you can get and avoid exposing yourself to preservatives.
Get Enough Rest And Sleep
While you train so hard in order to win, don’t overlook going to bed early because rest and sleep are crucial in ensuring optimum athletic performance. According to studies, getting good sleep can help improve reaction time, accuracy, and speed in athletes.
Sleep deprivation can make you feel tired, which can negatively impact your performance. That’s why you should also commit to getting enough rest and sleep as you do with training. For athletes, more than eight hours of sleep is highly recommended.
Here are some important things you need to remember when it comes to getting enough rest and sleep:
- Sleep an hour early than you normally would or take an afternoon nap to get more than eight hours of sleep a day.
- It’s best to have a regular sleep and waking time schedule. Get to the sports venue early so your body can adapt to the new setting. You simply just have to adjust your sleep in order for you to get enough rest before the competition.
- Avoid taking sleep medications because over-the-counter sleep aids can disturb sleep quality, as well as your athletic performance the next day. Instead, rely on natural relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises before bedtime.
- Reduce consumption of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages two days before the competition to avoid disrupting your sleep.
Listen To Your Coach
If you want to be at your best during the game, it’s important to listen to your coach. Many athletes and coaches clash, and the end result is frustration, anger, and poor performance.
Here are some tips to avoid getting into a conflict with your coach:
- Listen intently to the message instead of immediately jumping to conclusions. Paraphrase what they have said, and don’t hesitate to ask specific questions to resolve miscommunication.
- Find the best time to peacefully express your ideas, and show respect regardless of the topic of discussion. Appreciate the ideas of your coach, but you also need to explain how your ideas can also help the problem.
- Don’t take the coaching session personally because your coach just wants the best for you. See it objectively and constructively to avoid ruining your entire performance. Never allow your emotions to affect or ruin your and your team’s performance. If you can, take some time to do breathing exercises or to have a “me” time before making any final decision.
Modify Your Lifestyle
If you want to be the best athlete that you can be, it’s important to make lifestyle changes. Say goodbye to vices, like smoking or alcohol drinking, as well as long hours of playing video games. Even if you’re still a trainee, lifestyle modifications can significantly help you perform your best during training and, eventually, competitions.
When playing sports, the body and mind should be ready for the worst in order for you to be at your best. You can accomplish this goal by eating right, having enough rest and sleep, and by implementing necessary lifestyle modifications.
Also, it’s important to improve your eye-hand coordination, balance, stability, endurance, speed, and reaction time so you can perform at your peak during training sessions and competitions. By doing so, you’re better assured that you’ll be at your best during training sessions and competitions.