1. Drink More Water!
As self-explanatory as this one is, a study done by Walker (2004) found that two-thirds of young athletes ARRIVE at practice dehydrated! Since nearly three-quarters of our body is composed of water, it is impossible to perform at a high level without enough water intake. Check out the BASE Resource page to find out if you are drinking enough.
2. Don't Underestimate Form and Posture!
There is nothing more troublesome for us than seeing athletes pursue higher weights at the expense of form. Don't get us wrong, whether enrolled in ESP or not, we love seeing motivated athletes work toward their athletic goals. However, only when proper form, with full range of motion, is executed should weight increase.
Just as unsettling aesthetically as improper form, is poor posture. In addition to having negative effects on your breathing and digestion of food while also increasing your chances of injury due to muscular deficiencies. This can lead to poor performances on the field and in the classroom. The best way to correct poor posture? An appropriate, supervised training regimen designed to promote mobility and stability in the correct areas while also strengthening key postural muscles.
3. Instead of Supplements, Eat Fruits and Vegetables!
Supplements are not a magic potion to athletic improvement. They certainly aren't worth the risk of loss-of-eligibility that some lead to. Proper nutrition is essential to peak athletic performance - and that's about what you eat, not something that a supplement "provides."
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body needs to run at its most efficient. They are also essential for a functioning immune system. Stay healthy in more ways than one - eat fruits and veggies!
4. Want to be Faster? Get Stronger!
Despite popular belief, endless speed and agility drills are NOT always the best way to improve speed. If the lower body and core are not being strengthened, or placing focus on improving ankle and hip mobility, those drills are of limited value. The result of a program designed to build strength in the lower-body and posterior chain will be evident in the form of a greater deal of force into the ground being transmitted, with a full range of motion.
5. Do Not Let YOU Defeat You!
Henry Ford famously said, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." As powerful as the human mind is, it can only focus on one thought at a time. A baseball player behind 0-2 in the count thinking they don't have a chance is likely to be right - but it has nothing to do with the count or their athletic ability. There is no place for negative self-talk in athletics. Confidence leads to success - not the other way around.
Athletic improvement is a process and staying patient with the results is important. With the proper frame of mind, the changes needed to achieve your athletic goals are closer than they may appear.
6. Whole Grains
Most young athletes simply are unaware of how detrimental foods made with white flour can be on performance. Foods such as white bread, bagels, white pasta and even white rice bring about quick, dramatic spikes in blood sugar levels which inevitably lead to energy crashes. Replacing them with whole grain breads and cereals, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes and brown rice will provide long lasting energy without the subsequent crash.
7. Turn Down the Volume!
At ESP, we have a great deal of respect for those able to stand the intense workout provided by high volume, intense exercise classes. While the ability to withstand and test the limits of one's strength and endurance is admirable, that specific type of workout is rarely a good idea for the developing bodies of young athletes. So much volume invites fatigue and increases injury risk. Instead, young athletes do better with low reps - particularly in exercises that are more technically proficient, such as the plyometric and compound exercises that ESP incorporates.
8. Prepare Your Body
When people think athletic improvement, their minds immediately drift to intense training regimens - not stretching and foam rolling. However, letting the two be forgotten entirely is a huge mistake. At ESP, we believe they are as important than the strength training, plyometrics or speed and agility work that people tend to associate with athletic performance improvement. We take the time to assess every one of our athletes before choosing which areas need the little bit of extra attention that can lead to immediate results.
Warming up needs to be a priority. We not only provide every athlete with a warm-up but also have video of every exercise it incorporates on our website and accessible by their phone. We not only thoroughly believe that the more an athlete prepares him or herself for athletic performance, they will run into fewer injuries and more success but go above and beyond to provide whatever tools we can to help our athletes.
9. The Little Things Are The Big Things
As mentioned above, the little things are the big things, and in terms of athletic performance improvement, a lack of preparation can be the difference between success and disappointment. Being self-sufficient is a trait all great athletes have and it's as simple as viewing food as energy. Seek out nutritious snacks and meals to reap their benefits for your body. From a mental standpoint, at ESP we believe envisioning success leads to success. We teach our athletes to carry themselves confidently and approach their sport(s) the same way.
10. There Are No Shortcuts
The monotony of the daily grind defeats most athletes. At ESP, we are quick to acknowledge the "grind" and constantly refer to the process. Working on this list to develop new habits revolving around athletic performance is the best way to maximize what we provide.
Trust the program!