February 26, 2016
The best athletes stand above the rest – and usually not due to their stature. Yes, physical size and fitness are important contributing factors to athletic success, but there is much more to gaining competitive advantage.
Genetics, diet, exercise, and practice each play a role in determining the success of an athlete. However, separating contenders from pretenders starts from the inside – inside the brain.
Here are 5 ways to differentiate yourself by unlocking elite-level performance:
1- Be Present – It is critical that when attending practice or even gym sessions, you do more than just 'show up'. Instead, be present. Stay engaged with what you are doing and what is being done around you. Pay close attention to your movements and how you are performing. Sounds easy but requires mindfulness and practice.
2- Think for yourself – Though many coaches would likely disagree, it is important that you ‘think’ about what you are doing on the field, court, or wherever it is that you are performing. Contrary to common belief, there is more to elite athleticism than the coach thinking and you doing what they say. Think for yourself and do what you think.
3- Train your brain – There is much benefit to be had from acquiring that extra mental edge. While physical exercise conditions the body, cognitive training rewires the mind. Integrating mental training into your weekly repertoire is vital. Using psychological tactics like visualization and sports vision training are key factors in building and maintaining mental fitness. Improve your edge with these techniques and watch as your body follows suit. This is a particularly attractive area in which to build your advantage, since all your competitors are already working the body, but many are not pursuing targeted cognitive training.
4- Feed your mind & body – A well-balanced diet does more than just feed the body, it feeds the mind, which in turn improves performance capabilities.
5- Exercise – Exercising not only conditions the body by improving stamina and strengthening muscles, it also helps to feed the brain. Exercising fuels the brain by pumping it full of blood and oxygen, necessary to function at optimal capacity.
Once upon a time it was enough to work out at the gym, eat right, and show up to practice. Today, however, in order to build your competitive edge as an elite athlete, the brain cannot be neglected. Feed it, train it – it could be your winning ticket to the big leagues.
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