5 Steps to Reaching Your Athletic Peak Performance

Peak Potential
Peak Potential.

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If there were a blueprint to improve athletic performance, you'd likely be all over it. For athletes, there's always room to grow.

That said, sometimes we need a template to help us get to peak performance. Below we outline the areas of improvement that will help you reach your athletic potential.

Get Your Mind Right

Your state of mind is just as important as your physical ability, if not more so, when it comes to reaching your peak performance. To truly reach your peak, you have to get your mind right.

Many elite athletes rely on sports psychology techniques, skills, and tools to gain a mental advantage over the competition and learn how to improve their focus. Check out the these topics to help you get your thinking on the right track.

Drink Well, Eat Better

The right nutrition can help you excel in sports, recover faster, decrease your risk of injury, and even reduce muscle soreness. To have your best performance, what you eat may need to improve.

Eating well can also help you avoid dehydration, hitting the wall (bonking), general exercise fatigue, and more.

Fuel your body right to get the most out of your efforts. These articles will help you understand how the three macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) create fuel for your body, as well as how to use them for the best results.

Assess Your Overall Health

Your next step is to get a fitness assessment. Whether you are on top of your game and looking to push the limits or just building your athletic foundation, a fitness test will help you set goals and track your progress along the way.

A fitness assessment is a series of measurements that help you determine your health status and physical fitness. There is an endless number of possible tests and measurements that trainers and coaches can use to determine an individual's baseline fitness level and help design an appropriate exercise program.

Some of the most common fitness tests include:

Prevent Injuries

Practicing sports safety can help you prevent injury. This is one of those fundamental musts to reaching your peak performance — staying healthy.

Warming up adequately, training effectively, and using proper equipment for your sport, all while recognizing and addressing the early warning signs of injury can reduce your risk of common sports injuries, aches, and pains.

Monitoring the environment in which you train and compete, such as in extreme cold, heat, or altitude, is another important aspect of staying healthy and preventing injury. These conditions require special preparation and knowledge in order to perform at an optimal level while staying comfortable and safe. 

Don't Cheat Your Feet

Many sports require you to be on your feet for the duration of the performance and/or athletic training. Your feet are the foundation of the movements you make with the rest of your body. Your posture, stance, and technique can be hit or miss if your feet are not properly cared for.

In addition to grooming (including washing, moisturizing, and soaking your feet regularly), you should also check with your doctor or a podiatrist if you have lingering pain in your feet. While muscles do get sore after over-exertion, you should not experience regular or consistent pain in your feet. If you do, something may be wrong.

In addition to taking care of your feet, finding the best shoes and socks for your activity can help keep you both comfortable and injury-free.

Bonus: Rest Up

Sleep is an integral part of reaching your athletic potential. The body needs rest and, for those whose minds are on getting to the top, overtraining may be a danger. Even if you are training progressively and not overtraining, you could be suffering from sleep deprivation.

The stress, lowered metabolism, and mental fatigue of sleep deprivation could upend your attempts to reach your peak performance. So after you take these five steps, finish up your training days with a good night's rest. You will be a better athlete for it.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kerksick CM, Wilborn CD, Roberts MD, et al. ISSN exercise & sports nutrition review update: research & recommendations. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15(1):38. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z

  2. Watson AM. Sleep and Athletic Performance. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2017;16(6):413-418. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000418

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.