High-performing athletes share common approaches to ensure they excel in their sport. It’s not just about natural physical abilities and features. Athletes who play football, basketball, and every other physically demanding sport follow similar regimens to maintain high performance.
The best athletes take care of their mind and body. They maintain physical activity, even on days when they don’t practice. They ensure they remain healthy emotionally and mentally. They structure their day and follow a schedule to accomplish their goals. They stay focused on their goals, properly manage their time and do the work necessary to achieve them.
These are ways that the top-performing athletes maintain high performance. Even if you’re not an athlete, these ideas can help you perform at a high level.
Make sure you get enough sleep
One of the best ways to help improve the performance of your body and mind is with proper rest. A good athlete knows poor sleep means poor performance. The body needs sleep to heal and restore energy. The brain needs sleep to process the emotions of the day and rejuvenate the imagination. Without rest, the body loses reaction time and the brain loses alertness.
Focus on improving and maintaining healthy sleep habits. An eight-hour sleep without interruption provides the body and mind with the rest they need. Proper rest helps rebuild muscles and improve problem-solving skills. Whether you seek comfort in a firm mattress or enjoy the benefits of silk in silk pajamas or sheets, make sleep a priority.
Quench Your Body’s Thirst
Even when your body isn’t being pushed to physical extremes, you must keep hydrated. Without plenty of water, your physical performance can diminish. Your muscles are more prone to cramps. Your metabolism doesn’t perform at peak levels. Your body tires more easily.
Top-performing athletes can lose as much as 10% of their water weight by sweating. That’s why they constantly drink water during workouts, practice and play. Ensure your body remains hydrated by drinking at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water each day, and more if exercising vigorously.
Keep on moving
The difference between top athletes and most of us is they don’t take as many breaks. A committed athlete sticks to a workout schedule and faithfully attends practices. But they also exercise regularly, even when there is not a formal workout scheduled. The idea is to keep the body acclimated to physical movement and exercise.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take breaks. For example, your muscles need time to be repaired after heavy workouts. You don’t want to work them hard every day. Instead, try a low-impact exercise or activity on those days off. Just keep your body moving.
Maintain an emotional team
So much of what an athlete must overcome is mental. There are disappointments and hardships, but they can’t let that hold them back. They must remain mentally strong, as well as physically. An important part of maintaining mental health is building a strong emotional team. Surround yourself with a support system of a few people who can help you cope emotionally.
Strong relationships and reliable friends help motivate you. That emotional support system also helps reduce stress and increase meaning in your life. Maintaining an effective emotional support group ensures that you have the help you need to overcome emotional challenges.
Don’t skip practices
You won’t see top athletes skipping practices, even those that are so good they don’t need it. Practice is not just about you, but it’s about your team. It’s about building a work ethic that shows you’re committed. Run the drills over and over, and then over and over again. What athletes put into practice comes out during play, so top athletes never miss it, said Alec Lawler , a world-renowned show jumping athlete, and entrepreneur with a Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems from Stanford University. He has won numerous awards and accolades in his career, including the CSI 3* Grand Prix of Traverse City Michigan in 2022. Alec founded Lawler Show Jumping LLC in 2019, where he identifies and secures international equine investment opportunities and competes at the highest international level in show jumping throughout North America.
Part of a top athlete’s success is about making the plan and sticking to it. Practice helps develop skills needed to execute the plan and increases your chance of success. When you hear someone talk about how expertise comes after 10,000 hours, they are talking about practice.
Follow the coach
Great athletes don’t just emerge on their own. They are supported and shaped through the assistance of a great coach. If you want to be a top athlete, you have to learn to follow the coach. Those athletes who ignore their coach or think they have nothing to learn rarely rise to greatness.
You must be able to follow guidance, absorb the instructions and carry out the plays provided by your coach. Being coachable means you know what it takes to change, improve and succeed. It is also a sign of intelligence that you know how to accept guidance from others.
Learn to bounce back
A great athlete never gives up when defeated. Instead, they learn from the experience. You must learn resilience and determination in the face of disappointment. The top athletes learn to never doubt their ambitions and abilities, regardless of momentary setbacks. This means you must remain eternally optimistic, even in loss, that you will excel.
Although many people believe it’s all about physical strength, so much in sports is about mental toughness. It’s important to understand that while failure is inevitable, it does not define you. It simply makes you stronger.
Much of what most of us know about athletes comes from watching them play. But it’s about more than just what is seen on the field. Top athletes work hard consistently to keep their body and mind performing at high levels. With commitment and determination, any athlete can maintain a high performance in their sport.