There is no better performance enhancer than sleep. There is nothing that will help compensate for a loss of sleep. Three nights of sub 6 hour sleep in a row, adds up to the detrimental effect of one sleepless night. Sleep hours is the biggest predictor of injury rates in High School athletes and one study showed that injury rates in games after a HS athlete got 6 hours of sleep or less increased dramatically! All the training and practice hours, mean nothing without the sleep hours to maximize the recovery and let the body reset.
2. Eat Lean protein
Protein is essential to increasing muscle mass and helping your muscles recover. A standard recommendation for athletes is 1 gram per pound bodyweight. Protein is also 30% thermogenic, meaning it burns calories to break it down, and becomes 100% thermogenic when the body has met its needs. Studies have shown in trained individuals, you can overconsume lean protein (4 grams/ pound bodyweight) and not gain any fat mass. Gaining muscle and getting leaner will help most perform optimally while also decreasing the potential of injury.
3. Mind your total calories
Lean Protein is key, followed by copious amounts of vegetables. Balance the rest of your calories between carbohydrate and fat and activity. Expend more energy than you take in consistently and you will get leaner, eat more than you expend and you will gain weight. Whichever you choose, make sure its for the proper reason. Gaining lean muscle mass that does not enhance performance, does not necessarily serve a purpose, and vice versa for losing weight for no reason other than to lose weight. It is important to maintain relative body strength compared to body mass!
4. Carbs are not evil!
Carbohydrates are essential to performance, however, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Natural carbohydrates at the at the right time will add recovery and enhance performance. Faster digesting carbohydrates, like white rice, and white potatoes are great post workout to refuel. Natural foods like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, beans, brown rice, and other whole grains will help fuel you and keep energy levels up for hard workouts. Fruit is a great pre-workout fuel source, or mid workout boost. Processed flour, high added sugar foods, Sugary cereal and pop tarts are not on the list if athletic performance is what you desire.
5. Fat is essential.
Natural oils, ie, Fish oil, avocado and olive oil; nuts, seeds, avocados, are all great choices for fat sources. Watch out for industrial seed oils, or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. They are unhealthy and will decrease your performance, and ability for the body to recover.
6. Meal Prep!
GI Joe’s motto was “Knowing is Half the Battle”, and knowing what foods you should eat and eating those foods are two different things. Eating real foods is key to athletic performance, and we want to see athletes eat like athletes and eat real food,. With schedules for school and practices, and training, sometimes life gets in the way of proper nutrition, so planning ahead is the best strategy. Stash good, clean snacks in your school backpack, car, locker, etc, have protein or nutrition bars strategically hidden, keep protein shakes at hand. FOOD is the second most important performance enhancer behind sleep, so choose whole healthy foods.
7. Stay Hydrated!
Water is essential to performance. Drink half of your body weight in water daily. You can obtain this from non caloric beverages (but stay away from artificially sweetened beverages). Water keeps you muscles working properly, your joints lubricated, your brain on point, and your metabolism primed. Proper hydration starts days before game day. Just a 2% dehydration level will decrease performance on the field.
8. Strength Train!
Stronger athletes are better athletes. They produce more force, are less likely to get injured, and are more confident
9. Train like an athlete, not like a ______ player.
Sprint, change direction, jump, throw, squat, crawl, lunge, etc. These are primal movements which enhance athleticism. There is a reason why 92% of all active roster players in this past Super Bowl played more than one sport in high school. Athleticism is not build on any one field, it is built on multiple fields, and in training rooms. This is the foundation of what we are all about.
Sports are supposed to be fun, especially the younger you are. Make sure they are fun. The purpose of playing is play. Sports give the opportunity for learning tons of social skills, work ethic,etc., in a non pressure environment. When you are not playing your sport, play other sports for fun, or get outside and run around and have some fun. All these hours off the field, running carefree (not playing video games) will enhance your athleticism, and make you better when you step on the field.