It’s no secret that heading into competition season is an emotional rollercoaster for athletes and coaches. When the day finally arrives for your team to hone in their focus on winning, there are a variety of factors that can influence their performance. That’s why it’s not only important, but tantamount, to prepare them both mentally and physically. Here are some ways to keep your team prepped for the big day.
- MAKE SURE THEY’RE SLEEPING DEEPLY, BUT NOT FOR TOO LONG
Okay, so this one isn’t that mind-blowing. We all know how important sleep is for our overall wellbeing. But according to this article written about meditation for athletes, quality sleep that includes full REM cycles helps reduce stress, improve focus and speed up recovery time. Make sure they’re not sleeping for too long though. Oversleeping can actually mimic the effects of jet lag — not something conducive for competing!
Need a way to keep track of who’s getting enough? Consider creating a simple spreadsheet and asking your athletes how much sleep they get every night during the week leading up to the meet. This will help reinforce the importance of rest in their everyday lives. And hey, throwing in some mindfulness meditation couldn’t hurt either.
- RECOMMEND MEAL PLANS AHEAD OF TIME
It’s definitely important to eat healthy the day before, but it’s even more important to make sure your team is eating right even a week or two ahead of compeitions. These meals should ideally be high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. Also, don’t forget water. All the exercise and diets in the world are worth nothing if the body isn’t well hydrated.
Fruit, vegetables, beans, whole grains and rice are the bedrock of a high carb, low fat diet. There are plenty of meal plans out there. But if you want a clear idea of what to recommend to your team, check out these nutritional guidelines made specifically for track athletes by event.
- REDUCE TIME SPENT PER EXERCISE THE WEEK BEFORE
Every athlete has a routine they’re used to doing every week. It’s good to keep this training consistent, but for the week leading up to competitions or games, have them work less and less every day.
You want your team to perform at their highest level with the highest amount of energy. Slowly decreasing the amount of time spent per exercise keeps muscle fatigue and soreness at bay. There’s nothing worse than a tight hamstring on the day of a big competition.
- THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING
Not unlike meditation, having your team visualize their success can help solidify confidence. Plan a time each day during practice for teammates to sit, walk or jog while they think and feel what it’s like to win a major competition.
Bonus tip: If your team is having difficulty finding this useful (and not corny), show them this video before you send them off on a mental journey.
- CUT DOWN ON THE CAFFEINE
Although it provides a temporary energy boost, excessive caffeine, especially from energy drinks, can lead to adrenal fatigue. The notorious caffeine crash is a telltale sign that too much is being consumed. It’s also a known diuretic, which can quickly dehydrate athletes who need to stay alert and focused all day long.
Instead of energy drinks, encourage your team to drink juice or beverages high in electrolytes. It’s more important to get the right amount of vitamins than it is to get a short-term energy boost. Some people even get tired just a few hours after drinking coffee!
[4 Reasons Athletes Should Meditate].(https://www.headspace.com/blog/2016/02/02/4-reasons-every-athlete-should-meditate/).
[Track and Field Nutrition].(http://www.stack.com/a/track-field-nutrition).
[Impact of Coffee on Adrenals].(http://drjessechappus.com/the-impact-of-coffee-on-your-adrenal-glands/).