is a 2008 Olympic
These are the moments you remember for a lifetime: Michael Phelps touching the wall to win his eighth gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Gabby Douglas claiming the gold in the individual all-around in gymnastics and standing on the podium with the national anthem playing, or the exhilarating seconds as Steven Holcomb drove the USA-1 four-man bobsled team to gold in Vancouver.
These are the moments you see and remember, but these moments and these people you see winning on the field of play do not stand alone. They represent only a fraction of the people that went into the achievements we cherish. Behind the athletes standing on the podium is a support team of many: family and friends providing emotional and financial support; coaches, trainers, sports psychologists, nutritionists and sport science specialists who can make the difference between a medal or, well, last place.
I was fortunate to be invited to the United States Olympic Committee’s Health and Fitness Media Experience at 24 Hour Fitness in New York this fall. My Team USA blog entry today includes a video that gives you a “behind the scenes” look at the type of tools and resources our Team USA athletes use, along with some of the athletes’ thoughts.
Here are my top five tips from the Team USA high performance team:
#5 Learn to separate “results” from “performance”: You can’t always control the result. Sometimes someone can be better than you on a given day, but what you can control is your performance. If you focus on excellent performance each time, then the results will come, and you’ll have a better way to evaluate your progress.
#4 Think about building mental skills the same way you would physical ones: At the highest levels of sport, everyone is a great athlete. What starts to separate the best of the best from the rest is their mental game. It is important to spend time and prioritize working on your mental game. There are many exercises to be found online that can help get you in the best mental state for performance, keep focus amid distractions and think when the pressure is on.
#3 Use data: Sometimes it is hard to know if you are making progress or going backwards. The best athletes utilize robust data to help them measure everything from their general physical fitness, to power, reaction time and jumping ability. The type of data you might use will vary from sport to sport, but if you’re not currently using data as part of your practice then you should start, and figure out what type of data could be helpful to you in your training.
#2 Understand and study nutrition: There are many nuances to nutrition for a top-level athlete. The high performance team goes so as far as to map out general meal guidelines for easy training days to hard training days, recovery days and competition days. If you aren’t already, spend some time reading articles online about how the body functions with different fuels. Start to pay attention to how your body reacts to what you eat when you are training and competing to find the best nutritional balance for your competition needs.
#1 You need a team!: No athletes make it to the Olympics by themselves. If you’re looking to be a high-level athlete or reach a high level in anything, it is important to find experts who can assist you in all the various aspects of what you are trying to accomplish. Behind every great athlete is a team of coaches, trainers, sports psychologists and nutritionists. Don’t be afraid to seek out help and to try and find the best possible people to assist you in achieving your goals!