It’s time for part two of my guide to winning competitive sports, and it comes in the form of what many will argue is the most important factor: physical preparation. So, you’re getting ready for a competition? Of course you’ve already thought about training for it, and are going to your football/gymnastics/table tennis/taekwondo/whatever-sport-it-is session a number of days a week. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely helping you and making you better. However, if you want to win something you’ve never won before, you need to train for it in ways you haven’t done so before. This is where I come in with some fabulous tips – cue cheering.
Hopefully you’ve read part one of this series and are therefore aware of rule-specific training. If not, here’s a quick recap: to make your technical training as intelligent as possible, check out the rules for your competition and cater your training so that you are working on things that will improve your point-scoring ability. Most coaches will already be teaching you along these lines however, so let’s look at a few more training techniques.
The first mistake I always see athletes make when they’re training for a competition is only training in the sport that they are competing in. Now, I’m not telling you to go out there and join a whole new sports club, but cross-training can be truly invaluable to your development. Although it is perfectly possible to build in strength, speed, agility, reaction, etc. training into your specific sport, doing this training as a separate exercise can help you isolate each part of your training and so develop more quickly. It can also help break up your usual training schedule, stopping it from getting too monotonous. Ask your coach, or even Google, if you’re stuck for exercises to do – and remember, if it’s hurting then stop doing it!
My second tip for getting the most out of your physical training is to get a training buddy. It’s important to choose a buddy who has goals as big as yours; it could be a member of your sports team perhaps, or a friend from school who competes at a similar level to you. They don’t even have to be a part of the same sport! Everything is more fun when you have someone else to do it with, and if you pick a buddy who will motivate you and push you to train harder, you will find that you’ll get better results more quickly that you would have alone.
My third suggestion to help optimise your physical training is to keep track of what you are doing. Most top athletes will have a training diary in which they track what they do and what they’ve learnt after different sessions, and you should too! You will never remember everything you learn off the top of your head, so writing it down means you can look back at your notes in months to come to ensure you are always at your peak. Training diaries aren’t just for remember things however. They are also an invaluable tool for tracking your progress. In a few months you will be able to see the difference in the number of points or goals you’ve scored per game, or how many press ups you can do, or how your stamina has improved, among many other things. Noticing this kind of progress can really help to keep you motivated and can help you identify areas for improvement in the future.
So, there you have it! Some invaluable tips for optimising your physical training to make sure you win at your competitive sport. All the tips I give you, I practice myself in my own training, so I know that they will help you. Enjoy your training!