The best way for athletes to become better performers is to train, of course.
Visualization techniques and better nutrition will certainly help, but having an optimal physical training plan is the best single way to boost athletic performance. Unfortunately, too many athletes tend to build their training plans around their existing strengths.
This is particularly evident among casual athletes and fitness buffs. Go into the weight room of your local health club and rec center and you’ll probably see people doing lifting exercises that work parts of their bodies that are already relatively overdeveloped.
(A common sight is men who have well developed biceps and pectorals continue to work those muscles heavily while their backs or legs remain relatively under developed.)
When people do workouts that cater to their existing strengths, it makes it very difficult for them to improve on their weaknesses. Training only to your strengths is often exactly the least effective approach to becoming a more competitive athlete.
Ask yourself what is currently holding you back in your athletic performance; is it the fact that your strengths could be a little bit better, or is it that your weaknesses could be a lot better? In an ideal world, you’d be able to train as many hours as there are in the day.
But since that’s not realistic, you’ll need to identify the types of training activities that will give you the most effective performance boost. Start the process by identifying your performance and training weaknesses. During athletic competitions, what ways do you believe that you most fail to perform?
Is your endurance weak? Is your maximum strength or explosive power not up to the level of your competitors?
This process can be difficult because competitive athletes do not like to focus their thinking on ways in which they do not perform well. If you need assistance identifying your weaknesses, consider consulting with your coach or one of your trusted teammates or workout partners.
If necessary, and you want a perspective that might be a little more objective, then consider retaining the expertise of a professional physical therapist or trainer. When building your training plan around the weaknesses you’ve identified, the most important concept to keep in mind is balance.
Improving on your weaknesses should be a significant portion of your training plan, but it should not come at the expense of your current strengths. Your strengths will not stay strengths if you completely neglect them in your training. You must balance strengths and weaknesses in your training.
This balance in your training plan must also take into account the fact that training weakness sometimes presents a mental hurdle to some athletes. The nature of competitive athletics is to place a high focus on performance.
When athletes are forced to confront the areas of their training that highlights their weaknesses, it can be sometimes be a blow to their egos or confidence. Ultimately, though, it’s worth taking on the challenge of adding this type of focus to your training plan, because it will pay off in competitive performance down the road.