I’ve posed the following question to a number of athletes
recently; “If there are 168 hours in a week, what will make the bigger
difference, the one or two hours you spend here training for athletic
development, or the other 166 hours?”. It’s to highlight the point that being a
serious competitor in any sport is not a part-time thing.
Obviously, young athletes still need to have a life outside
of sport, but sometimes it’s about making subtle changes or additions to
lifestyle. I had plenty of learning curves and hindsight moments during my
athletics career, and now that I’m in the coaching sector, I want to pass my lessons
learned on to the next generation of sports performers.
Here’s my current top three pieces of advice to young
athletes of any sport:
Make time for Injury
Injury prevention can come in many forms and can be a full training
session in itself. We’ve recently been educating the younger athletes about
what they can do away from training to minimise the risk of injury. Afterall, getting
into good habits at an early age will boost chances of career longevity.
Flexibility and mobility routines are easy to incorporate into a daily schedule
and can be done in the smallest of spaces, yoga is a great way of incorporating
this into your training week. Other key things to consider with injury
prevention are, glute activation, core activation and foam rolling. Feel free
to get in touch if you want more info on these 😊
Keep a Training Diary:
Far from rivalling the works of Samuel Pepys, keeping a simple
training diary which details key things about a session can help with reflection,
planning and improving your training schedule. Record key data such as personal
bests, testing times, minutes played, weight lifted etc. Rate your session out
of 10, how long did you train? What did you think about your performance? Some
athletes even record hours of sleep, litres of water consumed or what they’ve
eaten that day. A good training diary can help an athlete switch off after
training or plan what they want to bring up in a meeting with a coach.
One other thing about a training diary is that it acts as a
great motivator. I remember how seeing my progress or regress would really give
me the boost I needed to make the next week’s training better.
Understand your sport:
This was a thing I learned later in my career, understanding
why your coach asks you to do something or asking questions can help adherence.
Could you coach someone else? There would be times I would ‘go through the
motions’ in training because I didn’t know why I was doing something, or what
it was supposed to be improving. A classic one is stretching, I used to hate
it! But once I understood how flexibility would help me lift weights better,
run faster, and pole vault higher I took it more seriously and improved quicker.
Never be afraid to ask your coach why you are being asked to do something!
There are many other things athletes need to consider when aiming to be a 24/7 professional, but for now, those are my 3 main pieces of advice, feel free to add to them to your routine and let us know how you get on.