Peaking to Perform
Sep 16, 2015
For you to perform to the best of your ability, it is important that you achieve a balance between your exercise training (stimulus that creates the physiological adaptation) and your rest (time that allows your body to incorporate the new adaptations). The combination of both exercise training and rest are essential to make you stronger and more efficient.
To assist you in optimizing this balance of training, it’s important to understand the concept of “tapering for competition.” This is the last phase of your training program where the goal is to reduce as much fatigue and stress from your body while maintaining your level of fitness. Tapering is very individualized to the sport and the athlete. Younger athletes (less than 18 years) typically require less time to taper (3-7 days), while older athletes need a little more time (3-21 days).
Develop and use a standardized approach during the last few weeks and days towards a major competition. Consistency is the key to get the most out of your tapering phase. Set up the best opportunity to excel. Constantly improvising and changing routines does not allow the factors contributing to good or bad performances to be monitored or evaluated.
It is important to realize that the body needs rest. As the stress on your body reduces, you will have more energy and want to do more activities (i.e. go play a pick-up game of basketball). It’s important to focus on conserving this energy so you can perform at your best during peak competition. Many athletes feel a harmless game here and there will not hurt anything, yet too many athletes suffer injuries a week before a major event due to participating in a “harmless game.”
During this time of rest, you can work on mental preparation for competition. Continually use positive words and images to encourage being successful. Be in the moment before the moment happens so you can react if anything unexpected happens. Mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation for any sport. If you are ready for anything that sport throws at you (mentally and physically), then you are more prepared to perform well.
Along with rest, continue to follow your proper nutrition guidelines. After exercise, the body is continually repairing itself and needs the best nutrients to encourage growth. During a preparation phase for major competition, the body will store energy to use for both the mental and physical stimulation of sport. Your body needs food to perform physically but it also needs it mentally to cope with the stress of competition. Included with nutrition is the importance of hydration. An athlete should continually consume 3-4 liters of water a day to help with body repair.
Did you know that…
- Anything you do during the last few days before competition should be in direct relationship to your competition preparation.
- You should fully recover for the next day’s training or more importantly for the next day’s competition (your warm up or session the previous day should not leave you fatigued right before competition).
- Some exercise can leave you dehydrated so you need to make sure to replace any fluid lost.
- Be sure to maintain proper nutrition while preparing and competing in an event. It can make the difference between a good and a bad performance.
- Developing both mental and physical practice and pre-competition strategies can provide you with a better opportunity to perform how you would like.
- Try to reduce as many stresses as possible in your life during your taper phase (i.e., family, social, school, travel). This will help your performance.
- Practice both your sport specific and relaxation techniques. This will help maintain a calm approach to competition.
- Always stay positive and focus on the task at hand.
Peaking for performance requires a balance between consistency, rest, and mental preparation. Tapering your physical routine, increasing your rest time, and maintaining your mental focus are all important during the time before a major competition. Stay healthy, stay fresh, and stay smart! Doing so will prepare you for anything that competition throws your way!
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