There are many methods athletes can employ to boost their performance as well as increase their ability to perform. This article will outline a few of the strategies I believe are extremely important for athletes to implement as well as examine the research related to each strategy.
These implications have contributed to my relocation to a warmer geographical location in an effort to take my own training to new heights. I believe very strongly that for me to be the best coach and leader, that I must walk the walk and demonstrate the power of what not only Alliance training is capable of, but also what prioritizing your own health and happiness can yield.
This article is a 5-minute read that will cover a few key topics including:
- Happy, focused and energetic athletes perform better
- The importance of Vitamin D
- Consistency and confidence relationship
Happy, focused and energetic athletes perform better
Let's start off by talking about the scientifically proven fact that happy, focused and energetic athletes perform better when they are happy. If this seems like common sense that it would be true you are on the right track!
But, just to emphasize this point let's look at some of the scientific findings.
In a study in 1990 performed in the UK by Peter Totterdell, they tested cricket players over the course of 3 and 4-day matches to see whether or not their perceived happiness, focus and energy levels (as well as other mood-related factors) was an accurate predictor of the batting and bowling performance in the matches.
The research indicated that in fact there was a strong correlation between the athlete's mood factors and their performance. The mood was an accurate predictor of their objective performance and the research also found that food increased through good performance, creating a positive feedback loop for future performances.
"The results of the study imply that the moods of players in professional team sports are partly responsible for variations in their performances. Coaches and players should therefore consider incorporating the development of mood control skills" (Totterdell, 1990)
These can include meditation, self-care practices and physical and mental preparation which can lead to increased levels of self-efficacy.
In conclusion, athletes should be mindful of their moods and manage their health with maximal diligence. Properly recovery and rest are some of the most important factors contributing to long-term athletic success as well as being proactive vs reactive in their training.
Protect those good vibes at all costs!
The importance of Vitamin D
Next, let's talk about Vitamin D. "Vitamin D is mostly synthesized in the skin, and is formed through the interaction of ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation after sun exposure" (Yagüe, 2020)
Vitamin D is difficult to obtain through diet because very few foodstuffs contain the vitamin naturally, the exceptions being the liver of fatty fish, mushrooms and eggs.
The rates of Vitamin D deficiency are worrying, and it is estimated that nearly 1 billion people worldwide are deficient. The prevalence rates actually meet the criteria of a pandemic.
In Canada, 30–50% of children and adults have VITD deficiency.
So why is this important for athletes and anyone in general?
In a meta-analysis of scientific data, it has been proven that VITD deficiency has many negative effects including:
- Reduced calcium mobilization and IGF-1(growth factor 1) leading to increased risk of stress fractures, poor bone development and delayed healing
- Decreased ability to develop type II muscle fibers, which are the fast-twitchw muscle fibers responsible for power development. This is a major implication for athletes
- Delays in time and ability to rehabilitate soft tissue injury
- Reduced capacity for muscle development and growth
- 93% of the patients who presented common clinical symptoms of non-specific musculoskeletal pain had VITD deficiency.
- Increased rates of myalgia (nonspecific muscular-skeletal pain)
- Reduced capacity for cardiac output
- Reduced vascularity (density of veins and arteries to bring blood to tissues)
- Reduced ability to ward off and recover from influenza and cold viruses
- Increased inflammation and decreased ability to bring down inflammation
- Seritonin and dopamine production. This one directly impacts mood and happiness!
This is really concerning when considering the effects of the current pandemic and the reduced activity levels of young athletes specifically.
The good news is that a balanced diet and good activity levels have been shown to reduce rates and chances of deficiency and supplementation has shown very promising effects
Wyon et al. (2018) found that supplementation of VITD leads to improved isometric strength and vertical jump as well as reduced rates of injury.
In conclusion, vitamin D is something to take very seriously for athletes and it would be wise to consult your doctor if you suspect you might be deficient, which can be very common in Canada during the winter months.
Consistency and Confidence Relationship
The power of consistency with regards to your health and your training cannot be understated. Confidence is a currency, that is earned through preparation and repetition.
This is why being proactive with your training is so powerful not only physically but also mentally going into the competition.
Focus on creating an environment for yourself to be consistent and remove the barriers that you need to overcome to be consistent. Planning ahead and formulating a plan is super effective! Reach out to your coach for more help on this!
Thank you for reading,
This is article is not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your physician.
Totterdell P. Mood scores: Mood and performance in professional cricketers. British Journal of Psychology (1999), 90, 317-332. Retrieved from: https://bpspsychub.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1348/000712699161422
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De la Puente Yagüe M, Collado Yurrita L, Ciudad Cabañas MJ, Cuadrado Cenzual MA. Role of Vitamin D in Athletes and Their Performance: Current Concepts and New Trends. Nutrients. 2020 Feb 23;12(2):579.
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