As an athlete in a sport where races can be won by a matter of inches, the focus on marginal gains can make all the difference. Don’t get me wrong, nothing beats solid training, but these five tips will boost your performance to help you gain that extra inch over your opposition.
1. Stop hitting the snooze button.
Falling back to sleep after your alarm wakes you up will only make you more tired and groggy. If you need more sleep, go to bed earlier the night before rather than sacrificing your fresh start. Hitting snooze not only promotes laziness first thing in the morning but can also lead to excessive consumption of stimulants like coffee to pull you out of this groggy state.
2. Focus on improving one element at a time.
It is too easy to start picking apart your technique and then try to go about changing it all at once. From personal experience this normally leads onto more issues than solutions. Take time to work on one element and only shift your focus onto another once you are happy that progress has been made.
3. Lessen the use of phones, tablets and laptops in bed.
Switch off your devices at least 30 minutes before going to sleep. They emit short-wavelength blue light which boosts attention, reaction times and mood, and impairs melatonin production, the sleep-inducing hormone, leading to a disruptive night of low-quality sleep.
4. Pre-competition fuelling.
It’s all too easy to overeat before a big event, whether the night or hour before your performance. Your body needs time to digest whatever it’s receiving before it can be used as fuel, so make sure your last big meal is at least three hours ahead of competition time. Any later than that and it will just sit in your stomach causing discomfort and, more often than not, make an unwelcome reappearance once you cross the finish line.
5. Don’t shy away from criticism.
Athletes are typically very good at focussing on their own bad points more than their good points, yet sometimes struggle to listen to criticism. Start taking all criticism as constructive - if you’re serious about improving it’s always beneficial to get a fresh pair of eyes on your technique.
Hydration is key to firing on all cylinders. The body is made up of 60% water so it makes sense to keep topping up on H20. Studies have shown that athlete performance is impaired when dehydrated by as little as 2% and capacity to perform at a high intensity can be reduced by as much as 45%.
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