1) Take the warm up seriously.
Developing a warm up that starts out as general dynamic movement and progresses into sport specific movement patterns to ensure your body is adequately prepared for exercise is imperative to avoiding injuries during training or game play. While it may take less time to sweat in the summer, it is still just as important that these drills are done prior to high intensity training. YOU ARE NOT INVINCIBLE, WARM UP THE RIGHT WAY!
2) Nutrition is literally your fuel.
I find it hard to believe that this area in 2017 is still neglected at times but sadly it is the truth. The only way our body is able to produce any energy is directly related to the food that we put into our bodies. Creatine stores and fat usage for energy may hold on for a little while on a bad diet, but glycogen stores need to be restored daily through carbohydrate intake. I have written about how and what to eat in previous blogs so I will not go into detail, just make sure you are eating enough before and after training, and your diet as a whole is meeting your caloric needs and energy demands. EAT, EAT, EAT!
3) Listen to your coach
If you do not have a coach, that is the first problem. Even if you are highly educated in whatever sport you play, there are endless and undeniable benefits to having a coach hold you accountable. Almost every great athlete that has played any sport would agree that a coach/mentor helped them get to the level of play they have achieved. A great coach has a plan for you, not just for today, not just for tomorrow, next week, next month, but for the year and beyond. Everything that is written down for you, all the talks that you have, and every audible that is called during training is well thought out. Keep in mind that your best interest is your coach’s best interest. If a coach wants to be successful, he or she needs to generate successful athletes. I know a lot of athletes who think they are invincible and can just throw in extra workouts, miss training days, or switch days around, and it almost always ends in injury or lack of progress. STICK TO THE PLAN!
4) Fix the small things.
Minor injuries and setbacks are unavoidable in training and in sport. Part of the nature of testing the physical limits of your body is dealing with problems (especially as you age). While training through soreness and minor aches is the reality of being an athlete, addressing lasting aches and acute pains through a variety of recovery methods can prevent them from becoming larger and more chronic issues down the road. Chances are your coach has a team of people ranging from physical therapists to chiropractors readily available to help fix problems. Do not try to be a superhero and fight through pain that is worsening, limiting range of motion, or requires you to take over the counter pain medication in order to train through it. Most problems are fixable in less than a week with the right treatment and recovery tools. DON’T BE LAZY, FIX THE SMALL STUFF!
5) Rest and listen to your body
Athletes have a competitive drive that is unparalleled. They will do whatever it takes to have an edge on the competition, so you can imagine how hard it is to tell an athlete to sit still for a day while they scroll through Instagram and watch everyone else training hard. I don’t care what ANY other coach says in regards to rest, it is necessary regardless of the sport that you play. There are times where you may go 16 weeks without a backoff week, and there are times where you may take off 2-3 weeks depending on your training year, but at the end of the day it needs to happen. I have seen countless coaches run their athletes into the ground swearing up and down that their bodies will adjust to the volume, and the athletes either end up mentally checking out or they get injured. The better you adhere to the first 4 steps to avoiding injury, the less time off you will need to have. Staying disciplined with recovery tools, sticking to the plan, eating correctly, and warming up properly will keep your body healthy through rigorous training cycles. Backoff weeks allow the body to heal and for the mind to recharge, athletes typically come back even stronger and with less problems following deloads. Never be afraid to talk to your coach if you feel your body is breaking down in the middle of a training phase, a good coach is aware that not every athlete is built the same and will be willing to make audibles when they see fit.