Every athlete strives to improve their sports performance or have an edge over their competition. To become the best athletes they can be, physical and mental preparations are necessary.
After all, the extra tenth of a second can make a difference between going home with a wooden spoon or being crowned the champion. Sure, it’s unlikely that you will win at sports 100% of the time, but there are ways to boost your chances of success.
Below are 7 simple ways to improve your athletic performance to help you reach your new personal bests!
7 Simple Ways to Improve Athletic Performance
1. Eat the right food at the right time
Aiming to be more energized and faster in sports activity when you don’t have a nutritious diet is like driving a vehicle with an empty tank. It may start fine, but it eventually cuts out.
So, to improve your athletic performance and maximize your chances of success, make sure that you are well-nourished.
An athlete’s diet should be the same as recommended for the general public, with a little twist: 55-58% from carbohydrates, 12-15% from protein, and 25-30% from fat.
If you exercise strenuously for over 60 to 90 minutes a day, you may have to increase the amount of energy you get from carbs between 65 and 70%. Strategic eating, which is eating small, frequent meals, may also keep your energy high.
Not only the type of food is important for sports nutrition, but also the time foods are eaten. Generally, athletes need to eat about two hours before exercising.
But remember, the proportions of carbohydrates and protein that your body needs will vary depending on the type and intensity of sport you have. It is still best to contact a qualified dietitian to achieve optimal sports nutrition.
2. Don’t worry about the “eight glasses per day” rule
Hydration is important, but you don’t have to worry about drinking eight glasses of water per day. It’s just not true. This is because our fluid needs vary based on environmental conditions, intensity, activity, and the body size and training status of an athlete.
Hydrate effectively by drinking plenty of water in the hours leading up to the workout. If possible, establish fluid breaks by drinking four to six gulps of water every 15 to 20 minutes during activity.
If you’re serious about making hydration an all-day game plan for sports, weigh yourself before and after the activity to monitor fluid losses.
A 1-3% loss in body weight already indicates dehydration. Your goal should be to replace (with 20-24 ounces of water) fluid losses within two hours after the sports activity or exercise.
3. Incorporate active recovery
In every aspect of an exercise program, especially for athletes, rest and active recovery are important. This is because they allow the muscles to rebuild, repair, and eventually strengthen.
By active recovery, it means doing low-intensity exercise to help the body recover more quickly. Some great active recovery workouts include walking, swimming, or yoga. However, avoid active recovery if you’re in a lot of pain or you’re injured.
There are also other ways to relax after a workout. It can include relaxing in a hot tub, watching a movie, getting a good massage, or meditating.
4. Focus on functional exercises
Functional training is not as complicated as it sounds. It’s just training that strengthens multiple muscle groups at the same time as opposed to isolation exercises.
This type of training first started to prevent injuries or rehabilitate people after an injury. Today, it is being used to strengthen the core, increase mobility and flexibility, improve posture and decrease back pain, and increase power and speed.
Some exercises that require more than one muscle group to work together in one movement include deadlifts, lunges, and squats.
5. Track and measure
Data in sports performance matters a lot! Aside from helping you to learn about your behavior and habits, it will also help you get the best possible performance in sports.
Some of the crucial elements when assessing athletic performance include speed, weight lifted, time, height, length, distances covered, acceleration, heart rate responses, and heart rate recovery.
And to track these data, an athlete or coach may use a traditional pen and pad, a simple questionnaire, or advanced technologies, such as the best fitness tracker for weight watchers.
These technologies help you to watch and record your daily burned calories, step counts, and heart rate, among other vital health information.
All these data can also give you an objective look at where you’re currently at as an athlete and will also help you prevent an injury by avoiding competition with any physical quality deficit.
6. Share your fitness goal with a buddy or group
Sharing your fitness goal with a buddy or a group is a personal preference. But if you’re committed to honing your athletic performance, sharing these goals can help with accountability.
This is because you’re more likely to hit your target as your friends will also help you stay motivated or cheer you with every accomplishment you achieve. Hence, it’s called positive reinforcement.
When you share your fitness goal with a buddy, you are also more likely to feel more motivated as you both would encourage each other. Thus, it leads to better results.
I would recommend you to share with a social circle that is supporting you in the change journey. These people should be those who truly care for you and the things that you are striving for.
However, this strategy is not for everyone as sharing can also put pressure on a goal that may already be too stressful for a person to achieve. So, go ahead and use your best judgment.
7. Consider adding some supplements to your diet
Performance supplements can never substitute a healthy diet. However, some vitamins and supplements can help make up for any shortfalls that you take in your dietary choices. They may also help prepare your body for exercise, assist with muscle recovery, and reduce the chance of injury.
Some of the supplements that can help beat fatigue and help you perform at your best as an athlete include B vitamins, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and creatine.
Still, it is vital to talk to your healthcare provider before starting to take a new supplement as it may negatively affect athletic performance.
The Bottom Line
The takeaway? Improving your athletic performance doesn’t always mean doing excessive cardio or lifting insanely heavy weights.
Instead, you can take your fitness to the next level using these simple and doable steps – no matter what your sport is!
Nathan Lloyd is a personal fitness coach and trainer with a Master’s degree in Health and Exercise Science. He is passionate about helping his clients become the happiest and healthiest version of themselves.
When he’s not coaching clients online or in person at ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, he writes about his favorite gym equipment at ExpertFitness.org.