Peak Performance in Sports
In the sports arena, peak performance in sports has always been a much sought after state by players and coaches of all levels. Whether the athletes are school boys soccer players or Olympians striving for their Gold medals, peak performance in sports has always attracted athletes and coaches alike. In our modern age of sports, where sports science is at a stratospheric level and rising, what are the factors that when applied correctly can lead sports participants to peak performance in sports? Are there secrets to sporting excellence? Are these factors easily manipulated for the benefits of the athletes? This article discusses the factors that can lead athletes and coaches to peak performance in sports.
1. Quality Preparation
The hard work for any sports season begins with the preseason training which is very intensive. No body likes this season, as the work and training required is often very boring and painful. But this has to be done for the athletes to be optimally prepared for the rigours of the competitive phase. The endurance, strength, speed and skill volumes must be done. Not just the volume of work, but how much quality is put into the preparation phase is vital as well. When players cut corners and put in training at face value without their heart and soul, it will show up later in the competition as fatigue, injuries or lack of sharpness in their performance. Peak performance in sports cannot be possible under such circumstances. The quality of preseason preparation is even more important in youth sports.
2. Mastering Individual Skills
In all sports and games, there are certain skill sets and skills that are considered basic and necessary. These must be achieved by athletes before they can play at a higher level later. In basketball, dribbling and executing a proper lay-up are crucial. Throwing, catching and fielding skills are a must in baseball and softball. The push-pass and receiving a pass are necessary skills in hockey and floor ball. The list goes on. In preseason training, or at the earliest playing stage, these essential skills must be made known to our young players, and all efforts and time must be spent on mastering these basic skills. Without these skills, a coach will find it very difficult to execute more complex team plays to achieve peak performance in sports. If strikers cannot even control a long pass from a teammate, how can we expect the same player to hold up the ball well up field against oppositions defenders and execute lay-off passed to oncoming teammates in support. It will be wise for coaches to develop these skills early and also for players to keep improving themselves in these skills even though they might feel that they are good enough already.
3. High Fitness Levels
At high school levels, many athletes would not have reached their maximal physical development yet no matter how much they train. Physiologically speaking, the development in this area in youths is very varied. Some children reach a high fitness standard faster than others, while others have body types that will only respond to training optimally when they get older. Hence, it can be assumed that a team with the fittest group of players will have the most advantage. No matter how skillful your opponents are, if you are fitter than him or her, you will be able to overcome your lack of fitness by reacting rapidly to overcome your short fall. Let’s say, you are out dribbled by a more skillful opponent in soccer. But if you are fitter than your opponent who have just out-dribbled you, you will be able to track back fast enough to cover your position again. This edge in fitness for youth is very important at the later stages of the game too, as players tend to tire faster at this age. A fitter team will definitely be able to prevail and score more later in the game. Players at this age need to be convinced of this need for fitness, and be encouraged to do whatever they can to attain the highest level of fitness possible.
4. Understanding Overall Team Play
The next factor of great importance in achieving peak performance in sports is understanding the overall team play by the players. Imagine a coach telling his charges to clear the balls down the flanks in any invasion game. You will be surprise how many players actually understand why they are told to do this. More often than not, the players will just do what is required or told by the coaches. The understanding behind their action is very often very little. They might not know that by playing the ball down the flanks or wing, it actually forces the opponents defence to spread wider, thus leaving more gaps in the middle for the attacker to exploit subsequently. Another statistically advantage is that plays down the flanks generally result in the attacker getting the ball back if it is knocked out of bound. That is why, you often hear players or coaches shouting to their charges to ‘throw it down the line’. Young players love the direct route to goal and very often that means playing through the middle. Whatever is taught in tactics to the players, coaches must make every effort to explain and make sure that all the players understand the tactical significance of their plays. This form of coaching if done properly, makes the players better players and improve their decision making on the pitch. And we are always looking for more thinking players in our pitch which will give the team a higher chance of achieving peak performance in sports.