As athletes begin the school year, a very hectic schedule begins to build. As the school year unfolds and homework loads, along with activities and sports practices begin to increase it is easy for an athlete to get caught up in the craziness of the year. This leads to less sleep, less hydration, and greater training loads for athletes. Which all decrease an athlete’s ability to perform. Here are three practical tips on how to increase your performance this school year.
#1 – Time Management/Sleep
It is a very common occurrence to see athletes studying late at night after they have gotten home from their late-night practices. While this is important for athletes to maintain good grades, it is often an indicator of poor time management if the athlete is staying up into the late hours of the night every night. As an athlete, it is vital that you utilize every portion of your free time to either sleep, eat, or get your school work done. Utilizing your free time will in turn help you increase your amount of time to sleep, rest, and recover. Athletes are recommended to sleep a minimum of 7 hours and on top of that spend time recovering in between or after practices (ice, foam roll, stretching, etc.).
#2 – Managing Sport Workload
As the school year begins, the practice load for most athletes begins to ramp up. So it is important that the athlete takes the time to figure out how they will approach the coming school year to train at a high volume but not overreach or over-train. Most coaches preach that more is better, but sometimes that isn’t the case. For most sports, the human body cannot handle 30+ hours a week of repeating the same motions. Now this doesn’t mean that you should skip practice or not work hard. But rather it is recommended that athletes take a look at their training schedules with their coaches/trainers to see if there is any way that they can adjust the work-to-rest ratio for the athlete. Most elite athletes spend 25-35 hours a week training, however, most elite athletes have built up to this amount of time and spend nearly just as much time recovering. So if you plan on training at a high volume, then you need to recover just as much. If you find yourself training 30-40 hours a week, it is recommended that you drop a small amount of time from that training and use that time to focus on another part of your sport. (An example of this for a football or soccer player would be to maybe take a couple of hours a week of training and use them to watch film and break it down, instead of using that time to hit the weight room for the 5th time of the week). This allows you to better your game but also physically rest.
#3 – Diet
Often people underestimate the power of your diet and hydration and how it can affect your performance. When it comes to diet during school, it is important for most athletes to be consuming a diet of more calories and protein than a normal person. In order for an athlete to properly prepare for workouts and to heal any damaged muscles from workout sessions, it is imperative that the athlete eat consistent meals of good nutritional value. Eating balanced meals with all food groups included is what will benefit many athletes in their performance.
In order to perform at a high level, you need to take the time as an athlete to consider many of these aspects. This will increase your likelihood of high performance and therefore help you have a better season as an athlete.
Tanner Smith is a strength coach at Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Orange County, CA.