5 Steps to Reaching Your Athletic Peak Performance

Peak Potential
Peak Potential. Michael Dodge/Getty Images

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 — Sports Psychology

Your state of mind is just as, if not more, important than your physical ability 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 get a mental advantage over the competition and learn how to improve their focus. Check out the following articles to help you get your thinking on track:

Drink Well, Eat Better — Sports Nutrition | Hydration

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 must 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 create fuel for your body:

Assess Your Overall Health — Fitness Testing | Assessment

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 will help you determine your health status and physical fitness. There is an endless number of possible tests and measurements that trainers and coaches may use to determine an individual's baseline fitness level and help design an appropriate exercise program. Read about some of the most common fitness tests.

Safety and Injury Prevention

Practicing sports safety can help you prevent injury. which is one of those fundamental musts to reaching your peak performance — staying healthy. Warming up adequately, training effectively, 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 an 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 — Shoes & Feet

Many sports require you be on your feet for the duration of performance and/or athletic training. That said, 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 proper 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 5 steps, finish up your training days with a good night's rest. You will be a better athlete for it.

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