Top 10 Habits of Elite Athletes

Kevin Neeld, writing for Fox News Health, lists 10 habits of elite athletes which you can adopt in your life to get better results in your training program.

10. Envision Success
Most athletes recognize that a significant proportion of performance is mental. Yet it’s uncommon for most men to spend any time on mind training and preparation. Elite athletes frequently report visualizing their success before it happens.

9. Cool Down
Athletes perform cooldowns specific to their activity. An athlete with an outstanding, balanced range of motion who just completed a lifting session may not require a cooldown at all. In contrast, an older athlete who just completed an interval training session will benefit from some low-intensity movement and calf and hip flexor-specific stretches. Cooldowns help facilitate recovery by processing metabolic waste products, restoring shortened muscles to their resting length, and allowing the athlete to unwind mentally.

8. Consume Sports Drinks
Optimal performance hinges on optimal fuel and hydration. Athletes consume sports drinks with easily digested carbohydrates and electrolytes.

7. Identify With Successes
Nothing will cripple performance like damaged confidence. Every mistake holds a lesson, but dwelling on mistakes will inevitably lead to their repetition.

6. Post-Game Training
Many athletes train immediately after a game. This comes as a surprise to many men, but it’s important to remember that the goal of in-season training is primarily to maintain improvements made in the off-season.

5. Pre- And Post-training Nutrition
Providing proper fuel before and after both training and competition can have a significant impact on performance and recovery. Athletes make sure they get the nutrition they need to maximize their intensity, energy and recovery.

4. Get Quality Sleep
Sleep provides the environment and time the body needs to repair damaged muscles, restore optimal hormonal balance and facilitate mental recovery and overall freshness.

3. Follow An Individualized Training Program
Most high-level athletes benefit from training under the supervision of a strength and conditioning coach. While some of these professionals are better than others, athletes will get better results following a structured program than they will on their own. It’s human nature to focus on what you’re good at, which isn’t always what you need. By following a professionally designed training program with components of individualization, athletes are more likely to improve their weaknesses and overall performance and decrease their injury risk. Quality training often allows less-skilled athletes to compete at higher levels and can add years to a career.

2. Set Goals
Nothing ensures success like setting goals and constantly working toward them. Athletes do this on a regular basis. Goals can be performance or habit based. Performance goals could be something like, “I will complete 75% of my passes today.” While completing a pass is dependent upon a teammate catching it, habit goals are less dependent on external influences.

1. Work With Coaches
Athletes are fortunate to work with a variety of coaches invested in their success. In many cases, coaches are what make everything else on this list possible.


Fox News Health August 12, 2011

Rob's Comments

While most of us are not going to compete at an elite level, we can all benefit from adopting many of these habits.

Habits 10, 7 and 2, all deal with the mental aspects of success.

Many of us sabotage our fitness either by not visualizing at all, or by visualizing our current habits. Instead, spend time visualizing your health, fitness and even your life as you really want it. Without limit. Do this regularly and you will start behaving more like the healthy and fit person you want to be. And your results will show!

Habit 2 on goal setting points out the difference between performance and habit based goals. Most people miss this important distinction when they start a fitness program. How often have you heard a friend join a gym or start a diet and say they want to lose 10 or 20 pounds?

Now how often do they succeed? Not very often, right?

The issue is they start the program with an outcome in mind (lose weight, fit into their skinny jeans), but without a goal to develop the habits or daily disciplines which, when consistently practiced, lead to that outcome.

When you decide to start a fitness program, set some habit goals along with your desired outcome. Examples of habit goals include attending boot camp 3 times each week or eating a healthy breakfast every day this week.

These habits accumulate and lead you to the outcome you want.

The take away from habit number 6, Post-Game Training, is that our bodies can't handle constant training stress. While many of us don't have game days or seasons, we still need to train intensely and couple that training with full recovery.

Which leads me to...

Habit number 4 Get Quality Sleep. This one is missing in the vast majority of people I work with. In fact most of us get far too little sleep and the sleep we do get is poor quality. Some tips to improve your sleep include make your room as dark as possible and sleep 8 to 9.5 hours a night.

Can't imagine sleeping that many hours? OK then your test is you should wake feeling refreshed and without the need for an alarm clock.

A great book on the subject is Lights Out! Sleep, Sugar and Survival by T.S. Wiley and Bent Formby.

Habits 3 and 1 suggest you Follow an Individualized Training Program and Work With Coaches. All I can say here is if elite athletes need coaches, why don't you?

There are options available to fit any personality and budget. One on one personal training, small group training and boot camps are the most popular.

To help you fit a coach into your budget, let me suggest you use a trainer strategically. I'm going to share a secret with you. The true value of a professional trainer lies in the program he or she designs for you. Once you are proficient in the movements, you may not need the trainer watching over you every time you are at the gym.

Instead maybe you need the trainer to set up your program for the month, get you started on it and then check in on you during the month. Then you repeat that cycle the next month. That way you may use 2 or 3 sessions with your coach per month while you are getting 12 or more workouts in your program.

Finally habit number 8 suggest you use sports drinks. Be careful with this one as most sports drinks are loaded with sugar and may actually hinder your results, especially if you are trying to lose fat.

Set a habit goal to adopt some of these habits of elite athletes and see your results improve.