[HEAD IN THE GAME] Peak performance comes from playing by the rules

Getting enough sleep, having a balanced diet, and managing things like stress and mental health can greatly affect an athlete’s performance. The more efficient our bodies can function, the greater the effort, or the higher it will be able to perform.

Sleep and recovery allow the body to be able to perform at its best, which is why they can be just as important as the training itself. Without enough sleep, the body might feel more fatigued during training which in return won’t allow the athlete to put in their 100%. Sleep deprivation also decreases reaction time, which can cause disadvantages when it comes to team sports. Efficient training comes hand in hand with proper recovery, whether that be stretching, rest days, getting enough sleep, etc. These techniques can also reduce injury risks and may help speed up training results.

Properly fueling the body to maximize output and more efficiently manage energy levels can make a huge difference in an athlete’s performance.”

Food is a pretty obvious one because it’s the body’s source of energy. Properly fueling the body to maximize output and more efficiently manage energy levels can make a huge difference in an athlete’s performance. If the body doesn’t receive enough energy, it won’t be able to function and perform the tasks that are asked of it. The first step is Identifying the right amount of calories the body needs, keeping in mind personal excursion/output and age. The next step is finding the right balance of macromolecules (carbs/fats/proteins) to more efficiently fuel the body, depending on the task. Vitamins and nutrients that come from foods like fruits and vegetables are also important but are irrelevant if the body doesn’t have enough energy to function in the first place.

Mental health affects people in many different ways but can be especially relevant when it comes to daily functions, or in this case, athletic performance. Sports and exercise can be a great outlet to deal with stress and built-up energy, but thoughts and emotions can sometimes overpower the headspace it may take to focus on optimal performance. On top of that, sports can also often create added stress, which is why it’s important to be mindful when it comes to ambition and coping mechanisms.

Everyone’s body works differently, but maintaining overall health and well-being may dramatically change day-to-day life as well as increase athletic performance.

Head in the game is a monthly column by The Rubicon Sports Editor Hazel Waltenbaugh. It addresses issues of health and athletics. Have a subject you’d like addressed? Contact Hazel at [email protected]