Success in competitive athletics carries responsibilities

                                                                                                      

Most
people realize they might not be the most elite athlete, but they also
understand that they can be better and be a valuable contributor to
their club or school team.  There is a point in time in your athletic
career, and in most cases it happens fairly early in life, that you
choose to be a competitive athlete.  You choose to give up your free
time to practice, sometimes in uncomfortable conditions.  Once you have
made the decision that competitive athletics is the path you wish to
follow, you must take the responsibility to make that decision
successful.
    Responsibility comes in many forms; the most basic
is attending the team practice sessions for your sport.  Until someone
creates a magical way of becoming an All-Star by hooking up to a USB
port, you have to go out to the field or on the court and practice
baseball, basketball, soccer, football, etc. in order to improve at the
game. 
    To be better in practice you must be in condition to
participate fully and concentrate on the lessons being taught.  Whether
it’s in school, at home, or on the field, if we are physically and
mentally tired, we cannot improve.  
    One of the main goals in
any military boot camp is to push soldiers to their mental and physical
limits to see how they respond when under extreme stress, if they can
function.  The most successful are always those that can physically
handle all the tasks set before them, allowing them to mentally focus
on achieving the goal.  The same is true in sports.  If your focus is
not on gasping for air, rubbing sore and tired muscles or trying to
figure out when the next water break will come, you can concentrate on
the lessons being taught by the coach and you can improve your
performance because of perfect practice.  To achieve the simple goal of
attending practice, we must first take the responsibility to ensure our
body is in condition to be at practice.
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In sports, our bodies are our most valuable asset.  No matter how
expensive the new bat costs or how great the shoes are, we cannot
utilize these tools without a healthy body.  Preparing your body for
competition is both ensuring it is healthy and also ensuring it has the
fuel needed to carry out the activities.  Sports are not good for our
bodies!  Injuries occur at far too high a frequency to make any claims
to the contrary.  But the question is, What causes these injuries?  In
some cases, it’s just bad luck; the force of an impact of a person or
object into one of our joints will usually result in some type of
injury.   
    In most cases, injuries occur because of
non-contact-related movements.  This type of injury reflects partly an
athlete’s refusal to understand it is their responsibility to prepare
their body for the stress of sports.  There is a great deal of
scientific research and evidence that demonstrates athletes
participating in a movement training and strength development program
have almost a 400% lower risk of injury than those that do not.  That
is not a small number, that’s a huge difference!  With the cost of
healthcare rising and plans changing, it only makes sense to make a
small investment in preventing the injury versus paying thousands to
fix the problem once an injury occurs.  There are no guarantees that
you won’t be injured if you participate in a training program, just
like there are no guarantees that you will get injured if you don’t.
But when it comes to safety and health, you should really think about
the odds.  
    Getting our bodies to perform at optimal levels is
also a reflection on the fuel we place in them.  A balanced diet
supplying enough calories to sustain the energy demands of activity is
a necessity to achieve better results on the field.  Young athletes
need to learn how and what to eat to prepare for success.  It is the
athletes’ responsibility to eat every 2-3 hours they are awake to
ensure they get enough calories in their diet each day.  A balanced
diet should consist of a lean protein (chicken, fish, and lean red
meats), a fist-sized portion of complex carbohydrates (rice, pasta,
potatoes) and one to two fist-sized portions of vegetables and/or fruit
each main meal.  Once an athlete begins to eat enough calories and
balances their diet, they will see amazing jumps in energy on the field
and have more productive workouts and tournaments.  Healthy eating
habits need to begin early in life and the brunt of responsibility for
healthy eating has to be a choice the athlete makes in order for it to
be successful.
    We choose greatness for ourselves.  We choose
to accept the responsibility for our decision to be an athlete.  Over
my entire career working in sports, the biggest difference between
those that were successful and those that failed was their willingness
to accept responsibility for their performance.  No, it is not easy to
decide to be great.  It takes sacrifice, it takes extra time, and, in
some cases, it takes more financial commitment.  But the rewards of
achieving success are priceless.

Joe Marsit is director of Velocity Sports Performance in Scottsdale and a regular contributor to this publication.  He can be contacted at 480.503.8212 or jmarsit@velocitysp.com.