Did you know that portly baseball legend Babe Ruth gobbled hot dogs before games or his night-owl habits? (A teammate once quipped, “I didn’t room with Babe. I roomed with his luggage.”)
Oh, how sports training has evolved! Today’s top athletes view excess pounds and sleep-deprived nights as threatening to their future performance, not to mention their next hefty contract.
To keep body and soul in peak condition, elite athletes employ personal trainers, chefs, sports psychologists, and other specialists. At stadiums and arenas, teams similarly support their players with the best that sports training offers. Hi-tech devices let athletes monitor body fat, heart rate, and fatigue up to the minute.
Even if you’re not an elite athlete, you can implement the following tips to supercharge athletic performance. Whether you’re trying out for the high school rowing team, competing in a Sunday softball league, or training for a 5K charity run, the following will be sure to take your game to the next level.
- Eat sensibly: Athletes should generally consume up to 3,000 calories a day in food and beverages. Consume wisely, and research experts’ nutritional tips, which often suggest a diet high in protein, vegetables, and legumes, while keeping your sugar and alcohol intake low.
- Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep energizes us physically and emotionally for sports and the rest of the day ahead. On the flip side, sleep deprivation saps energy, raises the level of stress hormones, and lowers the production of glycogen, which stores carbohydrates — all of which adversely affect athletic competition.
- Warm up: Whether you run 25 miles a week or bicycle across your city, make sure to prepare your muscles for the rigors ahead. This gets the blood pumping, loosens the joints, and focuses the brain. So the next time you attend a professional baseball game, watch what players do even before batting practice: they stretch, sprint and do arm circles, among other exercises.
- Think positively: The great baseball catcher and accidental linguist, Yogi Berra, once said, “Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical.” Yogi was onto something. Sports psychologists preach a positive attitude to set goals, strive for excellence, maintain motivation, and develop resilience in the face of challenges. Try it and see for yourself!
- Repeat: A lost Manhattan pedestrian once asked, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” A wise guy on the street answered: “practice, practice, practice." Same with getting to Madison Square Garden. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s dunks and Steph Curry’s jump shots don’t magically happen in games. They practiced their basketball techniques and skills for thousands of sweat-filled hours on empty basketball courts. Do the same and diligently practice your skills if you want to get really good at sports — or anything else for that matter.
- Improve vision skills: Good vision and visual skills are what give an athlete that extra edge. Think they function similarly while poring over a spread-sheet budget as when racing downfield to prevent a flag-football opponent from reaching the end zone? Hardly. Sports vision training, tailored to a sport’s demands, prepares the brain to quickly process what the eyes see so the body responds faster to a moving target. Has the outside hitter shifted ever so slightly? With sports-vision training, you’ll recognize his or her move and better anticipate a spike attempt at your next volleyball game.
The takeaway? Work hard and play hard. Do not underestimate the importance of checking your visual skills for any deficits which may be keeping you from succeeding on the court, rink or track.
Typical examinations generally don’t cover the visual skills called upon in sports, but Dr. John Dovie and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann will evaluate yours. If needed, Dr. John Dovie and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann will tailor a treatment program to improve your visual skills, whether it's to help keep your eyes focused on the ball, improve tracking and depth perception to successfully complete a pass or to improve peripheral vision awareness, strong eye-tracking, and visual concentration skills.
Blacksburg Eye Associates is a sports vision training optometric practice that offers evidence-based sports vision training to enhance an athlete's vision abilities to take their game to the next level. We help athletes of all ages from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, New River Valley, and throughout Virginia.