For some, it seems as though athleticism comes entirely naturally. These individuals put in little to no effort, or so it appears, and they excel in every sport or physical activity they take part in. Then there are those that put in every ounce of energy and thought to reach the point of being considered a highly successful athlete. Behind the scenes, what you don’t see, is that these two different groups of people are following the same healthy habits so that they can reach their personal goals as an athlete.
Some of the habits that these individuals follow are physical challenges, while others involve mental skills. Individual goals are part of reaching the top in any sport whether it’s a team sport like football or basketball or one that only requires you to beat your personal best. Whether you are the athlete or someone that sits back and watches, you know how overwhelming and stressful it can get trying to be the best.
That is precisely why it is essential to focus on following the positive habits of reaching your goals and leave the bad habits behind. It doesn’t mean you have to spend 24 hours a day at the gym either. Just keep each of these in your routine, and before you know it, you will be blasting past previous records and taking home the wins.
Habits of Successful Athletes Includes Setting Goals
One of the first and most important skills that successful athletes learn and follow is setting goals for themselves. By regularly creating new goals, it gives them an opportunity to see where they are at currently, and where they would like to be in the immediate future. It’s a lot more than just saying “I want to win.”
The goals set by elite athletes are often created with the assistance of a sports psychologist or a mental skills training consultant. Instead of focusing on winning the competition, they work together to come up with systematic objectives so that they can continue to improve their personal performance. It’s not always about beating the opponent, especially in the beginning. Athletes know that they have to work on their own skills and evolve their talents as a whole to become better in their own individual game.
Effective goals have several critical factors including:
- A set time frame for completion
When a goal of just winning is what an athlete tries to set, that doesn’t follow these ideas. In team sports, there is no way that the goal-setter can control the outcome of the game because he or she has to depend on the rest of the team. Someone could get injured, the other side could have an exceptionally good game, or there could be inconsistencies in judging. Successful athletes focus more on subjective goals like doing their best or objective goals like improving their own speed or time. Regardless of what kinds of goals are put in place, a dedicated athlete is going to continue working to achieve it at any cost.
The Daily Life of a Professional Athlete Involves Healthy Eating Habits
What someone puts into their body is just as important as what they do to the outside. Think of your diet as the fuel you are using to run your body. When racecar drivers are fueling up their vehicles, they don’t get the cheapest gas out there and hope to get a first place win. They invest in the stuff that works even if it costs a bit more. They want the best for their car so that the car performs the greatest. The same is how your body functions.
If you are fueling it with soda and junk food, it’s not going to give you optimum performance. However, if you are powering it with nutritious foods, you will feel better and in turn, get better results from your competitions.
If you want to become a member of the successful athletes club, there are five main principles that should be followed when it comes to your diet.
- Carbohydrates are your fuel. Consuming healthy carbs allows your body to turn them into glucose and store it as glycogen in your muscles. Then, when it comes time to perform, your body uses up that glycogen by converting it into energy. Many athletes will carb load for three to four days prior to a big event. In general, successful athletes make up their meal plan with 70% of the foods being cereals, pasta, fruit, vegetables, and bread.
- Protein is an integral part of your diet because it is what maintains your muscles giving you the strength needed to compete. About 1.3 grams of lean fish, poultry, beans, nuts, eggs, and milk per pound of body weight is what should be included in the meal plan of an athlete.
- Healthy fats are all that you need, and those should come automatically if you’re following the proper dietary guidelines. You can find them in vegetable oils, olives, nuts, and avocados.
- Water consumption has to be closely monitored to prevent dehydration. A successful athlete doesn’t wait until he or she is thirsty to start drinking water. You should drink water prior to an event and another eight to 12 ounces should be consumed every 15 minutes you are performing.
- Electrolytes get depleted when sweating. Sports drinks offer a convenient way to replace them so that there is no disruption of nerve signals in the body.
Physical Strength Training Habits of Elite Athletes
Regardless of how good you are, or how good an athlete thinks they are, they got that way from training, and that’s the only way they are going to stay there. Nobody really enjoys training and going to practices, but it is an essential part of being able to perform.
What each athlete does for training is going to vary based on the sport they are competing in. A long-distance marathon runner, for instance, is going to work on their endurance while a basketball player will strive to improve their speeds for short bursts like they would need to get from one side of the court to the other quickly.
There are a plethora of benefits that go along with physical training besides becoming a better athlete. Those include:
- Fewer sore muscles
- Faster recovery
- Less fatigue
- Ability to endure longer practices
- Fewer injuries
- Building self-confidence in abilities
Athletes will frequently work with their coaches and trainers to determine what the best training program is. Those that are part of a team need to not only complete their own goals and training, but they are also required to practice with those they are going to be working with for competitions.
An Athlete’s Morning Routine Doesn’t Start without a Good Night’s Sleep
“I can sleep when I’m dead” is a phrase that we have all heard at some point or another. It gives the impression that sleeping or being tired is something that people that can’t hack it do. Those that become successful athletes know that believing that is the furthest thing from the truth. An athlete that is striving to be their best requires at least seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. There’s more to getting a good night’s rest than just allowing the body to recover.
Psychologically, a rested mind gives you the ability to react better when the time comes. Without the proper amount of sleep, alertness isn’t as good as it could be, and reaction times are lesser. Coordination, learning, and muscle memory are improved with quality rest, and motivation that’s required to get the task completed without being irritable are all critical factors associated with calling it a night early enough.
Your quality of sleep is vital because, in order to release the growth hormone for muscle building, bone growth, muscle repair, and the oxidation of fats, you have to reach stages three and four or REM sleep, which is the active stage of sleep that only happens after you surpass the first two stages. Cortisol, or the stress hormone that impacts how the body digests glucose is also regulated during this phase.
Physically, a good night’s rest lowers your chance of injury and illness. Studies have shown that those that don’t get enough sleep are 1.7 times more likely to get injured and three times more likely to get sick.
With all the other responsibilities an athlete has including training, meal planning, and working with a trainer or goal-setting, it can seem near impossible to get enough sleep every night. Remaining focused on following a strict schedule is how to accomplish this goal of allowing the mind and body to fully rest and recover every night, and more importantly, the days and nights leading up to major competitions.
Useful tips and tricks to implement to get a full night’s rest include:
- Creating your own cave – you want your room to be dark and cool. Blackout curtains or eye masks work at blocking out sunlight. External noises are eliminated through the use of white noise machines and earplugs. Keep the room temperature around 60 to 67-degrees.
- Get comfortable – invest in a good mattress, pillow, bedsheets, and blankets that make you relaxed. Not everyone is going to want the same thing, so you have to figure out what makes you the most comfortable.
- Follow a bedtime routine – start winding down a half-hour to an hour before it’s time for actually laying down. Meditate, read, or stretch. Turn off electronics and enjoy a quiet period so that the mind and body can begin to calm before you actually climb into bed.
Treatment for Injuries is in a Successful Athlete’s Daily Schedule
Regardless of how much you train, how careful you are, or how good you are, there is always going to be a risk of injury while doing any sort of physical activity. The body can withstand a lot of pressure, but like anything, there is a breaking point. When an athlete gets injured, they don’t just shrug it off and hope that the problem goes away. It’s essential to treat those injuries right away to prevent further damages that could potentially be irreversible. Of course, it’s hard for any athletic person to sit on the sidelines while their teammates are playing. Those that want to be able to perform at their best for an extended period of time know how important it is to treat those injuries and allow them to heal.
For severe injuries, athletes will work with a team of healthcare professionals on a progressive scale. It allows the body to slowly heal up while also retraining the muscles to build strength and condition themselves back to the level they were before the accident.
There is a process of rehabilitation that is followed to make sure that the injury is properly treated and the athlete can return to full functioning when the initial injury has completely healed. He or she will follow these basic steps:
- Medical treatment – diagnosis, surgery if required, pain management
- Rehabilitation – motion restoration
- End-stage rehabilitation – balance restoration, building strength and endurance, controlling reflexes
- Generic-specific development – basic physical performance functions
- Sports-specific development – competitive performance functions
Successful athletes also seek out alternative methods for treatment when dealing with injuries including seeing a chiropractor or visiting a massage therapist regularly. Many athletes choose to see a chiropractor for injuries because these doctors provide an approach that treats not just the problem area, but the body as a whole for overall health and wellness. Several professional leagues including the NFL, NBA, MLB, and PGA have employed chiropractic doctors for their players.
Chiropractors know that the spinal cord along with the brain are the main control system for the rest of the body. By ensuring the spine is in proper alignment, there is confidence that the rest of the body functioning is working as it should. There are a plethora of other benefits that go along with visiting a chiropractor as far as athletes are concerned including:
- Non-invasive approach – little or no downtime
- Enhanced athletic performance
- Pain management
- Further injury prevention
- Treatment for most sports injuries possible
Along with treating athletes for injuries and working to prevent further ones, chiropractors will work with these individuals for total body and mind health and wellness. The qualified professionals can advise on proper nutrition as well as give information on what equipment and exercise techniques are most beneficial to keep their bodies operating at their highest level of functioning.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C., Anchorage Chiropractor works tirelessly to ensure his patients can be the best versions of themselves at each visit. With his many years of experience and superior level of education, he knows what it takes to provide the treatment necessary for each individual to have complete physical, mental, and emotional health for quality in every facet of their lives.
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