The key to improving athletic performance is maximizing the 5 factors which influence athletic performance: Mindset, Training, Sleep, Nutrition, and Recovery. In this article, I will give a breakdown of what each of those factors means to us, why they are important, and one step that you can take today to improve your athletic performance.
The most important aspect of any high-performing athlete is the character traits that they have developed. This doesn’t mean being polite or helping your opponent off the ground. These character traits are focus, perseverance, etc. the traits that propel someone from where they are today to where they want to be tomorrow. Mindset encompasses all of those traits and provides a roadmap to taking control of the mental aspect of athletics.
Without the proper mindset, improving athletic performance is like every run hiking back up the ski hill instead of taking the lift back to the top. The proper mindset doesn’t remove the hard work required to get stronger, faster, or better at your sport but it does make things a whole lot easier.
Without the proper mindset, improving athletic performance is like every run hiking back up the ski hill instead of taking the lift back to the top
The brilliance of having the proper mindset is the moment when your body is confronted with a challenge such as a difficult workout and you immediately attack it without a thought to the pain you’ll have to endure. You attack the challenge almost on auto-pilot but with a laser focus on the task at hand. That feeling of being in the zone or as we call it, the flow state.
But perhaps the most powerful aspect of taking control of your mindset is in those quiet moments when you begin to question why you’re doing this, why you’re committing your time and energy into something, putting your body on the line, especially if the results aren’t there yet.
Oftentimes the results you’re craving are just on the other side of this mental debate. The difference between those who achieve their goals and those who don’t is whether they have committed the time to build the perseverance and grit required to break through these moments of self-doubt.
I’m already going to break my promise to give you one step that you can take today, by giving you two for taking control of your mindset.
Simply put, experience is the only way to improve your mindset. You have to take a chance and experience either failure or success, then learn from your mistakes. Right now, what are you putting off for fear of making a mistake or fear of the time and effort it will take to do it. Recognize this moment of fear and uncertainty and make the conscious decision to take control of your mindset and take care of business.
Secondly, If experience and mistakes are the only way to improve your mindset, then the hack to taking control of your mindset is to learn from the mistakes and experiences of others. Instead of going through the pain and suffering of learning from your own mistakes, pick up a book and learn from those who have already achieved the goals you are pursuing.
Any biography will do, but my recommendation would be The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. The Obstacle is the Way is a collection of the failures and successes of some of the most influential people to ever walk this earth. Learn from their stories, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes to take control of your mindset.
The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday
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Training has always been a crucial factor of athletic performance. To make your body and mind better at your sport you have to show it what being better looks and feels like.
For example, to get stronger you have to lift heavy weights and overload your body, this overload forces it to adapt and get stronger. This principle of overloading applies to all aspects of training from film study to the field to the weight room. You have to push yourself past the point of comfort to improve.
Training establishes what you are capable of. If you never put the time into training you won’t get better, it’s that simple. I won’t wax on too much about the importance of training because it’s probably the most self-evident factor of athletic performance. Put the time and effort into training and you’ll see results... but first, make sure you’re putting that effort into the right training.
Adaptation occurs when you push past the point of discomfort. An effective training program will systematically push you outside of your comfort zone and force you to adapt. If you want to ensure that you are doing the right training Coach Ozzy is offering early access to his training program for those signed up for our weekly newsletter.
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When you push outside of your comfort zone during training you experience stress on both your muscles and mind. Recovery is the ability of your mind and body to adapt quickly to those strains of training.
By taking care of your recovery you can train more frequently and at higher intensities. When the name of the game is who can become the strongest, fastest, smartest the ability to train more frequently becomes critical.
Recovery is an unusual one because it is heavily dependant on the other factors of athletic performance. The most important action to take care of your recovery is to take care of your sleep and nutrition. Nothing you do with a roller, mobility, or massage gun will have as large of an impact as sleep and nutrition on your ability to recover.
If you have maximized your sleep and nutrition the next step in recovery is to begin priming your body for recovery following each workout. Self-Myofascial release or “rolling” is a simple 10-minute habit that will allow you to attack your next workout or game at 100% of your capability. Here’s a link to my simple 10-minute post-workout full-body rolling routine.
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Sleep is the ultimate recovery tool. Your ability to lay down at the end of the day and rest your mind and body has a greater impact than the hours put into the cold tub, stretching, and potentially even greater than the food you put in your mouth.
Your body heals during the stages of rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and deep sleep. During these stages, your body can get to work repairing and growing those muscle tissues you tore up during your workout or practice. Take it from Lebron and his trainer on the importance of sleep. When asked what has become more important as he’s gotten more experienced he responded,
“There’s nothing more important than optimal REM sleep... That’s the best way for your body to physically and emotionally be able to recover and get back to 100% as possible. I just think that’s just the best way to recover. I could do all the training. I could do all the ice bags and the NormaTecs and everything that we do that we have as far as our recovery package while I’m up. But when you get in that good sleep, you just wake up, and you feel fresh. You don’t need an alarm clock. You just feel like, Okay. I can tackle this day at the highest level, that you can get to.” - Lebron James, The Tim Ferriss Show
“There’s nothing more important than optimal REM sleep... That’s the best way for your body to physically and emotionally be able to recover and get back to 100% as possible.” - Lebron James
In addition to recovery, sleep can have a direct impact on your ability to perform on game day. A study performed in 2019 from the Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that “[e]ven a fairly modest reduction in sleep was shown to have subtle, but potentially important, negative effects on both aerobic performance and [explosive movement] performance.” (1)
For a complete breakdown on “Why Is Sleep Important?” check out Coach Ozzy’s post here ›
Aside from establishing the correct temperature (65 degrees, personally) the most important action that you can take right now is to establish a consistent nightly routine that gets you 9-10+ hours of sleep every day. A little bit of a higher range than the usual 8+ recommendation but from my personal experience, the effect of moving from 8 hours to 9 hours on my recovery and mental clarity was insane. Currently, I am pushing from 9 to 10 hours and still seeing improvements in my recovery and mood.
For a complete guide on “Sleep Tips” check out Coach Ozzy’s post here ›
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Your body requires certain nutrients to perform the tasks required to improve athletic performance. On a macro level, carbohydrates provide your energy, protein repairs and build your muscles, and fat helps you absorb vitamins and serves as a long-term energy source. On a micro-level, thousands of vitamins and minerals each play a role in the operation of your body.
It’s a well-worn metaphor for nutrition but I’ll use it anyway, “You wouldn’t put regular gas in a Ferrari so don’t put garbage food in your body.” As athletes, we are demanding a lot from our bodies. Workouts, practice, games. Our bodies are constantly being destroyed and then rebuilt and by disregarding nutrition, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Power your body by providing it with all the nutrients it needs with real, non-processed food and you’ll feel the difference.
I said earlier to treat your body like a Ferrari but if you actually want to win something maybe treat it like a Mercedes
Maximizing nutrition is 100% about building the right habits. It’s why so many people struggle to reap the benefits of proper nutrition. My final action for you to put in place today is more of a tip than a quick 10-minute fix.
Habits can be hard, the willpower required to constantly say no to the chips or pop every time you go to the pantry is insane. So make it easy, use your willpower once a week instead of 10 times a day by only getting good, real food when you go to the grocery store. Make the tough decision there so when you’re sitting at home there’s not even a possibility of eating poorly.
To learn how to build habits the right way check out Coach Ozzy’s blog on Power Lists here ›
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The 5 ways to improve athletic performance are:
Cullen T, Thomas G, Wadley AJ, Myers T. The effects of a single night of complete and partial sleep deprivation on physical and cognitive performance: A Bayesian analysis. J Sports Sci. 2019 Dec;37(23):2726-2734. DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2019.1662539. Epub 2019 Sep 5. PMID: 31608829.
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