Believe it or not, the most common question we're asked by athletes isn't something specific. In fact, it's quite broad.
"Guys, so what's it really going to take to improve my performance?"
Over the years we've become quite good at answering this question and wanted to share our thoughts to get this series started.
So what DOES it take to perform your best? There are multiple opinions on the different components of athletic performance and relative importance of each. Bottom line is, YOU have to push to perform. What's that mean? Read on.
Figure 1 represents our thoughts on what we call the 'sports performance pyramid'. This pyramid is a combination of many years of personal experience and research that reflects what we've learned from authorities like Jack Daniels, Ph.D. and Ronald Maughan, Ph.D.
Talent / Genetics
Almost everyone agrees that the most basic and fundamental component of sport performance is talent. In this instance, we want to make it clear that we are primarily referring to talent derived from genetics. You either have it or you don’t. In other words, choose your parents well. Good news though, talent is not necessarily a general principle. It can be very specific. How many times have you seen “celebrity” golf tournaments on television and watched an elite basketball player hit a 2 iron like a complete duffer?
Each of us has some talent or genetic potential to be good at something. So, one of the fundamentals of higher sports performance is finding what you’re good at doing. So how do we figure that out? Practice. Is there a sport or activity you really enjoy? Perhaps it's something you find yourself coming back to for stress relief or in a rec league with your friends? You shouldn't be afraid to dedicate large amounts of time and effort to something if you truly enjoy it. That's where tier 2-4 on the pyramid come into discussion. If you're motivated to do something, you'll naturally make opportunities to do it. Often times that means time to do #4, practice.
Unfortunately with motivation, opportunity, and ample training, all too often #5 becomes a player. Managing injury isn't something you can make blanket statements about either. Our best advice here is to speak with an expert. So who is that? See your primary care doctor first. From there depending on the injury, they may refer you to a specialist if they feel it's appropriate and warranted method of treatment.
When it comes to your individual performance, elements 2-5 of this pyramid are listed in an optimal order of importance. Each is a little less important than the one below it. As discussed above, however, these can move around significantly throughout your journey. Some may argue this order and it may not be the same order for everyone. Nevertheless, we think it makes a reasonable framework for the discussion of the components of your success.
Technology and Nutrition:
At the top of the pyramid, you'll find nutrition and technology which occupy less space on the pyramid than the other elements. We spend a lot of time talking about what to eat or drink, what supplements to take, or what the latest time trial bike or compression garment will do for us. These, however, cannot replace any part of the lower pyramid. You've got to put in the work. No nutritional strategy, supplement, or technological marvel will make-up for poor training when race day arrives.
So you're putting in the work, had some success, but know there's more to achieve. That's where we come in. Sword Performance was founded on this very principle by sports professionals who are athletes themselves. With coaching, calculated nutrition strategies, and advanced physiologic testing with state-of-the-art technology, these factors can be the difference makers.
The next post will begin to explore some of the specifics of endurance. We will begin to discuss things like VO2max, lactate threshold, and muscular efficiency.
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