Student athletes today can be overwhelmed thinking about the best methods and ways to train their bodies and minds, as there are countless coaches, gurus, strength trainers, dieticians, and psychologists who offer advice relating to maximizing athletic performance. In fact, a common question I receive from kids at my office often centers around simply developing a plan for success — specifically, where to get started. In response I guide athletes into thinking about the three most important, inter-related areas of training: Physical development, technical instruction, and mental toughness.
Comprehensive training for today’s athlete
There are countless ways student athletes can improve their athletic abilities today, be it through strength training, technique, or mental toughness. Sometimes, however, designing a solid training game plan can be overwhelming, especially when coaches, parents, and even teammates begin offering what they think are the best routes to follow for on-field success. In response to these challenges, a comprehensive framework is presented below to help student athletes get started:
- Physical development. This dimension of athletic training focuses on proper strength training, cardiovascular activity, healthy nutrition, and getting adequate rest. When athletes fail with respect to physical development, additional technical instruction and/or mental toughness work usually won’t be enough to compensate.
- Technical instruction. This area of training focuses on the “X’s and O’s” of sports, and helping athletes better know the game, their position, and what is expected of them while competing.
- Mental toughness. Developing mental toughness means different things to different people, but generally speaking this area of training focuses on helping athletes develop personal goals, improve self-confidence, refine focus, and galvanize resiliency.
Set comprehensive goals for success
When helping student athletes set goals, be sure to integrate physical, technical, and mental training targets. For example, an athlete can specify how much time she will spend in the weight room performing different exercises, dedicate time toward watching videos each week, and learn how to use skills like imagery and deep breathing to help keep nerves in-check while competing. When athletes train comprehensively across all training domains, only then will they perform to the best of their ability.
By doing a quick search on the internet you will see there are literally countless places kids today can go in order to develop ideas about future athletic training. While it’s nice to have endless ideas at your fingertips, I have found that increasingly more kids (and their parents) are being left even more confused where to go, what to do, and how to develop a training program unique to their situation and needs. The good news is that taking a simple approach that includes physical, technical, and mental training will allow your child to fully develop and play to their highest level.