Athletic Trainers are your friend

In my time working with athletes and getting to work with athletic trainers, I have often found some less than stellar relationships between the two groups. I think it is important for the athletes and coaches to understand what an athletic trainer is and how best to work together. Now, just like any industry, there will always be good and bad professionals to work with. What I hope to do here is give you an idea of how to start an open relationship and know the behaviors you are going to see in a good athletic trainer.

What is an athletic trainer?

Athletic trainers are traditionally the first responders for sports. They prepare each athletic venue for the occurrence of possible injury and/or emergencies, work on the sidelines assessing athletes when injuries do occur, help rehabilitate and treat them acutely, all while monitoring the field of play. By assessing athletes rapidly, the athletic trainers can take appropriate steps to establish a diagnosis, apply appropriate treatments, and when necessary, refer the  athletes to other experts for further evaluation and management. They help decide whether the athlete can safely return to play from injury. They also serve in a variety of other roles with athletes such as confidant and even counselor on occasion. Since they have to wear so many hats and work so many hours (especially on the collegiate and professional level) it is important to remember that they are human beings trying to be everything to all people, balancing what is needed versus what is wanted.  I would caution you to be wary of an athletic trainer who believes he or she is always correct or has to everything done his or her way shunning advice or feedback from others involved.  The athletic trainer who places the needs of the patient above all else is what I would consider the model athletic trainer.

How to work well with them

Communication here is key. Understanding the limits of your education and their education and how you can help each other will always bolster a better relationship. The athletic trainers are educated to make clinical decisions about a variety of health conditions, the acute management of those conditions, and when it is safe for the athlete to return to sport.  To participate in a power struggle over who should make return to play decisions (i.e. coach versus athletic trainer), suggests that the patient’s needs are not the priority. It can be hard to check your ego at the door to take advice (or yourself out of a game), but do yourself a favor and do it. By talking more often and making sure everyone is on the same page, you can do a better job of not only performing, but keeping yourself and your athletes safe. Working with athletic trainers  throughout the competitive year (off season, pre- season, and in-season) will allow for the building of relationships so athletes will be safe and have potential issues addressed before they become performance limiting or at worst, catastrophic.


I’m lucky to have worked with a variety of great athletic trainers throughout my time in competing and coaching. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to lift my arm overhead or do pull ups again. Take your time as a coach or athlete to get to know your athletic trainer and find out how to make the most out of your relationship with them. This post was heavily edited and contributed to by my friend and Colleague Aaron Sciascia who is an athletic trainer, educator, and researcher. He is the gentleman who spearheaded my shoulder repair by referring me to the physicians who performed the surgery and working tirelessly on my rehab. Thanks as always to him for his work.


Better Living Through Chemistry: Supplementing for Hard anaerobic work

With cheer nationals upon us I now see my athletes taking a number of supplements. A number of them aren’t worth the money they are spending on them **cough** BCAAs **cough**. Some are good, but they are taking too much or two little of the supplement. Here is a quick list of supplements that can help with acute power performance and anaerobic endurance (high intensity bouts that last 30 seconds to a bit over 2 minutes):

Quick note: some of these need to be taken chronically. This means you need to take them every day in order for them to have an effect. Other supplements you can take acutely to bolster performance, but when you do so you can become desensitized to them so cycle them accordingly (stop taking them every so often). There are also far more supplements than the ones outlined here, but in my experience these are the ones that tend to have the best bang for your buck (and are legal).

Caffeine – Dosage 3-6mg/kg of body weight, taken 30-60 minutes before training or competition. Caffeine is well known for having a number of positive effects on performance from decreasing perception of pain and masking fatigue along with potentially increasing power output and strength. There is a genetic factor for sensitivity here so try it out, but be measured in your dosage. This is an acute supplement that you can become desensitized to.

Beta alanine – 2-6 grams per day divided up in to one gram or less dosage taken with a meal. This supplement needs to be taken chronically. Too much at once causes paresthesia which is harmless, but it does cause an itching sensation on the face typically which is uncomfortable. Beta alanine helps increase intramuscular carnosine levels which in turn decrease the negative effects on performance that lactate and the proton cause from hard anaerobic work. This does take a few weeks of chronic dosing to have a significant effect.

Creatine monohydrate – 3-5 grams per day around your workout. Must be taken chronically to have its effect. Loading only causes you to peak your intramuscular levels faster, but ends up costing you more money in the end. Creatine increases your intramuscular levels of creatine which is part of the energy source of your shortest energy system that you tap in to when doing high power exercises. Increasing this energy reserve can increase performance in the shortest bout tasks (3-15 seconds), but it does cause water weight gain and some folks will find that they don’t respond to this supplement so be aware of how your body reacts and drink more water when you start taking it.

Maybe Use:

Beet root juice – 6.4-12.8mg per kg of body mass taken 30-60 minutes before your workout. Specifically it is the nitrates in beetroot juice that are converted in to nitric oxide which in turn increases blood flow to your exercising muscles which tends to help increase performance. This has a greater effect in the untrained than in the trained. This works acutely but taking it for a few weeks will have a greater effect.

Sodium bicarbonate – 200-300mg taken 30-60 minutes before your performance. Bicarbonate helps buffer out the decrease in pH that you get when doing high intensity exercise, however, it can be hard on your GI and work as a potent laxative. So the risk reward on this supplement is a bit dicey so I would potentially experiment with it where you can take a break to use the bathroom if you need to and go from there. This is to be taken acutely and definitely cycled off of on occasion.

Alpha Glycerophosphocholine (Alpha GPC) – 300-1200mg per day taken chronically and 30-60 minutes before training. Can increase acetyl choline levels which is a neurotransmitter important for muscle contractions and potentially has a positive effect on growth hormone levels and on power output. Also seems to stack well with caffeine, so take it with your coffee.


There are a few different supplements you can use to help enhance your anaerobic performance. Remember that we all react different to supplements, and the dosage is what matters quite often for the effects. Listen to your body and if it helps keep using it, if it hinders drop it immediately. If you have any questions or comments please let me know and as always thanks for reading.



To enhance recovery after training aim to get in 20-40 grams of protein (simple whey protein is a great choice here) and 20-40 grams of carbohydrate (simple sugars are a good choice here). Try to start drinking this before you finish your training session and finish it within half an hour of the end of your training along with taking in a real meal within 2-3 hours of this hard training.

Getting Older, or How to Recover Faster

An old friend of mine contacted me the other day about what can be done to help enhance recovery from training especially when you get older. This was great timing since a student asked me a question about using ice baths to help with recovery and I asked him what the two most important parts of recovery are. He didn’t know immediately but pretty quickly we got to the answer:

Sleep and Nutrition

Now with sleep when it comes to recovery we are looking to maximize this number. I know that life will get in the way here, but in a perfect world we are looking to get eight hours or more each night. Old school lifters would suggest sleeping eight hours and an extra one hour for each hour of hard training. Aim to improve your sleep quality as much as you can. You can do this by making your room the right temperature for you, as dark as possible, and start making a routine for yourself before bed to help you unwind and fall asleep faster. This can be things like no more screens an hour before bed or wearing blue light blocking glasses before bed to help yourself release more melatonin to help you fall asleep.

After getting enough sleep, nutrition is key. Making sure that you are getting in enough calories to support your training is a big first part to take care of. After that getting in enough protein, carbs, and fats (macronutrients) to support your training is important. To decrease soreness specifically, make sure you are getting in enough protein to support your training (at least .75grams per pound of body weight, up to 1.5grams per pound of bodyweight for someone that is trying to lose weight). Then make sure you are getting in enough carbs and fats (you can experiment here but start off with at least 1gram per pound of bodyweight on carbs and .6grams per pound of body weight on fats). After you get this dialed in aim to get in a meal of protein and carbs directly after training to help expedite recovery from your training and get in a meal 2 hours before your training if you can. This will help you fuel your workout and recover from it faster.

Other Methods

Sleep and nutrition at the big two keys to recovery from hard training. If those are not enough you might want to decrease your training volume or intensity since you might be doing more than your body is prepared for. If that isn’t in the cards there are a number of recovery methods that can work, but individual response here is key. Some folks will get a lot of out of these methods and others will get none at all. If you have the cash try them out, but here is my basic list I would recommend trying:

Active Recovery – this is doing work at a heart rate of less than 100 beats per minute. The constant movement for half an hour or more (going for a nice walk). Helps enhance blood flow to not only the muscles, but the joints to help everything recover. Be careful to not go overboard here and use this to actually help yourself recover from the stress, not cause more of it.

Ice Baths – sitting in very cold water for about 20 minutes can help with recovery, but is not only uncomfortable, but can be limiting based upon access to ice and a clean bathtub. This does work for a number of people so take a look and give it a shot sometime to see how your respond.

Saunas (or hot tubs) – This increases blood flow to the skin and activates heat shock proteins which in turn can help with cellular function. This used for about 15-30 minutes can help with recovery or just be useful for overall health (specifically cardiovascular). Give it a shot at the end of your workout to help increase the workouts effectiveness. Do be careful since the heat can be dangerous especially if you are dehydrated to start.

Compression (specifically devices like the normatec) – This is either garments which have limited evidence or pneumatic sleeves that are put on different regions of the body. The sleeves seem to be quite effective with helping recovery, however they are expensive. This is not the same as blood flow restriction training to be clear.

There are more, but those are the ones that come to mind for being effective to some and remember the key is individual response. You can try out other methods that you think help, but do your best to track your own response however you can and avoid confirmation bias. What this means is you are going to recover no matter what, so using something might not be accelerating what was already going to occur. You might try multiple methods at once and then you could falsely believe it was the moon rocks that improved your recovery not the extra sleep and nutrition you were doing better with.


There are a number of means to enhance recovery, but never ever underestimate the effects of sleep and nutrition. After that experiment a bit to see what helps you and throw out what doesn’t. If you have any questions or want me to write further on any of this please let me know. As always, thanks for reading.

Bodyweight Circuits for the Cheer Team

From Wednesday (the 20th) until the 27th the cheerleading team is enjoying the holidays with their family. During this time it is a welcome reprieve from the onslaught of hard training that is cheerleading nationals practice. However, one week off can make quite the difference in performance since the athletes will then return and have just over two weeks or hard practicing before nationals competition. One week of being completely sedentary can drop down your performance by more than 5% in areas like speed, anaerobic endurance, and strength. This can make or break the performance of the athletes so even though they have the week off they need to at least get in a few workouts. These don’t need to beat them down, but get the body moving and maybe even bolster recovery. The goal is to get in two workouts at a minimum over the week off and preferably more.

So without further ado, here are some body weight workout circuits for the cheer team on their week off that they can do at home (I really didn’t break the bank on naming these):

The Flyer

6 rounds of:

1 back tuck

10 squat jumps

4 burpees

5 push ups

10 step ups each leg

5 v-ups

10 lunge jumps on each leg

1 minute of holding a plank and shifting to each side holding a strong position


The Tumbler

5 rounds of:

2 back tucks

5 pike push ups or handstand push ups

1 back tuck

10 burpees

10 v-ups

10 lunges on each leg

1 back tuck

10 squat jumps

10 clapping push ups or close grip push ups

10 russian twists on each side


The Midlayer

5 rounds of:

1 back tuck

10 burpees

Side plank on each side for 30 seconds

1 back tuck

10 squat jumps

10 push ups

10 lunges on each leg


The Base

5 rounds of:

1 back tuck

10 burpees

10 pike push ups or handstand push ups

10 squat jumps

10 close grip push ups

10 lunges on each leg

10 clapping push ups

10 lateral lunges each leg

Planks on each side for 30 seconds each on your hands not elbows


The Hill

Find a long hill and sprint up it (over 30 yards long), at the top do 10 push ups and 10 v-ups then walk back down. Repeat this for a total of 10 reps or more. Feel free to backpedal up the hill, slide sideways, and if you feel hardcore bear crawl up it forwards or backwards.


Other options

Every day the athletes should go for a half hour walk and stretch out some. This can mean very little stretching for the bases, but lots of stretching for the flyers who have issues with pulling a heel stretch (for example). This will be good active recovery, which should help the body feel better overall. I would also suggest going hiking or doing any form of cardio and basic strength training that they are interested in. If the athletes already have a workout that they enjoy doing, just do that, but the rest of them that have no solid plan (or gym membership back at home) use the workouts above.


One week off can make or break a nationals team, especially when it is over holidays which are tied to over consumption and a lack of physical activity. No other sport has the same reality where the athletes are only three weeks out from competition and taking a full week off that I can think of. To my athletes try out a few of these workouts and have a safe and fun break. If you have any questions or comments just let me know. Thanks as always for reading.

PSA: Shake it up: Shaker Cups

Something that I have been thinking about recently, and using for years are shaker cups. Sometimes referred to as protein shakers. This is a simple cup that you put protein powder in and water (or other fluid), seal, and then mix up your supplement with some form of an internal mixer (typically a whisk). If you go to any gym you will see people using these and each type has its pros and cons. Keep in mind that these are consumable products. But here is a basic review of the types that I have used and how much I life/dislike using them.

Note on maintenance of them:

Wash your shaker after each use with actual soap. The supplements you are using do a great job of helping culture bacteria and the last thing you want is your supposedly healthy protein shake gives you diarrhea or worse. Make sure you thoroughly clean the whisk and points where it opens and closes along with where it screws in. In my undergrad we tried to clean ours through letting hot water run through them for about an hour (lived in the dorm and didn’t have to pay water bills) aside from being a total waste, any bacteria that could hold on were able to grow in this nice warm and wet environment. Learn from my mistakes and stomach issues that I caused from being lazy when I was younger.

Electronic mixers

This is not a reference to blenders, which work well. This is the type of shaker that has a motor driven whisk and utilizes batteries for their operation. If you get one free as a gift use it. Otherwise don’t waste your time and money with them if you have the ability to shake something by hand. They tend to break down, require replacement batteries, and can be quite annoying to clean. In my undergrad we did super charge one from using AA batteries to a 16V which was equal parts interesting and mildly terrifying when we made it run on that much voltage.

Whisk shakers

Wire Whisk Ball

I’ve used a number of these and they really do work well for mixing up your shake, but the issue that you can run in to is with time the lids start to crack and don’t work as well at staying on the cup as they did previously.  Overall, this is worth picking up, but know that they really only last about 6 months to a year in my experience of heavy use. a pro tip here is if your bottle breaks you can use the same whisk in a nalgene or mason jar to mix your shake so just reuse the whisk and toss the shaker cup itself.

Rubber whisk ball

These also work well and tend to hold up better than their wire counter parts in my experience, but this is due to better cup construction, not due to the mechanics of the whisk. In fact they tend to not mix as well as the wire whisk.

Screen shakers

These shakers have a screen that you put in the top that when you shake up your protein they effectively mix them by putting them through the screen. They work well and hold up for long periods of time. The only real issue with them is that cleaning the screens can be a bit of a pain. If you don’t do a good job. Be aware of the order you put in your powder then fluid here since too much powder on top of the fluid can cause it to clump on the screen and then it won’t mix well.

Shakers with a bottom compartment

If you can find that variation it is worth it. This compartment is great for people that care about having their post workout with them, or in my case if you are on the road and you just like doing a protein shake for breakfast. Some variations of them the bottom compartment also has a lid so you can just use this as a traveling supplement container. When you aren’t needing this compartment don’t screw this on the bottom to make your shaker lighter. Keep in mind that some of these shakers will be too thick to fit in to cup holders without the bottom screwed on so learn by doing here.


Overall there are a variety of protein shaker types that you can buy on the market. Do yourself a favor and when in doubt that you can get a free one take it. Over time they fall apart and break. They are a consumable product, but they serve a good purpose. I hope this information was useful for you and thanks as always for reading.

Roll Out, Foam Rolling Guidelines for Cheerleaders (and anyone else)

Once again I find myself in cheer leading two-a-day practices and as per the usual they are beating up athletes. Now a number of them are complaining about their general aches and pains which is to be expected (especially since they are massively increasing their training volume right now, which I wrote about earlier). This puts them in a position or being under recovered and over stressed, so they are looking for ways to enhance their recovery. One recovery modality that can be useful for enhancing tissue repair and performance if self-myofascial release (SMR) specifically when done by using foam rollers, balls, massage sticks, and other objects. As always make sure you are eating enough and sleeping enough first.


This can POTENTIALLY help with recovery by breaking up scar tissue and adhesions. The idea behind this is with hard training your muscles start to accumulate “knots” and these knots cause the muscle to not slide like it once did. This in turn causes an uneven pull at the join which can cause pain or at least a decrease in performance. The act of rolling in the area can also perhaps help increase circulation and help remove some extra cellular swelling which in turn helps increase recovery from hard training. This doesn’t fix sprains or strains of tendons and ligaments. It is also not useful with bone bruises or breaks so use this only to work on muscles not connective tissues or bones.


The dose response here plateaus quickly. That means a small to moderate amount directly before and after training will give you more than doing this multiple times per day. A simple ten to twenty passes in each area or figure spending a minute slowly moving on a tight area will get you 80% of the results that doing more than two minutes will. You can do this every day, and I would suggest doing this along with a simple warm up on your off days to help enhance recovery. With time you can progress the stiffness of your massage implement. This could mean going from a foam roller to PVC pipe or from a tennis ball to a baseball. Just think about adding more pressure with time. This added pressure can also be in the form of adding external load like roller your back out with a

Bonus stuff:

A number of our athletes are taking a beating right now so here are some areas that often have issues and things you can do to help them recover:


When these are beat up doing this like high rep rice digs will help with recovery. Aim to do this for time with a moderate to low intensity. You can also do some light wrist rollers and rubber band hand opening drills. Think about getting in a total number of reps in as few sets of possible. I would suggest with going for 100 reps and trying to do this in three sets or less (so your load has to be laughable small). Also perform basic wrist stretches (if you want pictures I’ll put them up later).

Low Back

This often gets tight so doing movements like cobra press ups for high reps, reverse hypers, and tractioning the low back by hanging from a bar will help with recovery and in turn future performance. For the hanging from a bar start by just relaxing and then let your legs move front to back, side to side, and twisting in those positions to hopefully feel your low back release some. Keep the same high reps in the movements to help enhance recovery. Also try yoga poses like the child’s pose, happy baby, cobra, or doing back rollovers to help loosen this up and promote some recovery. Listen to your body here and let yourself relax in those position if you can’t relax then move on and stop that movement.


To get some blood in the area and help with recovery some bodyweight lunges, Bulgarian split squats, hip thrusts, lateral lunges, and frog pumps can help. For stretching look at the pigeon pose, figure four standing stretch, full squats, couch stretch, and maybe even some warrior 1 and 2 posts from yoga.


So here is a quick list of ways to help with recovery of areas that might be plaguing you when doing hard cheerleading two a days. As always listen to your body, take your time during your warm ups, and make sure that you are doing everything that you can to enhance your recovery. If you have the luxury of working with an athletic trainer have a dialogue with them about what you can do to enhance your recovery and performance, otherwise you need to do what you can to help yourself get better. If you have any questions or have some other areas you want me to write about please let me know.

The Need for Speed: Programming Speed Squats

The other day I was in the student rec center getting in some deadlifts and a student of mine was setting up bands to try and do some speed squats. Now the rack they have in the rec for him to use doesn’t anchor the bands well enough to actually give tension throughout the movement (bands are slack in the bottom) so I helped him figure out how to rig his bands so they would give tension through the motion and give him a wide set up for where the tension was applied. After he started squatting I asked him why he was doing the band work in general. He told me it was to increase his power and explosiveness (which is what bands can help do), however his programming for it was off so I helped him set up his basic program and decided to write a bit on this topic to help others that might be looking to use accommodating resistance in their training.

Accommodating resistance

First, I need to explain what accommodating resistance is. This is where as you lift a weight it becomes heavier so you have to apply more and more force to keep the weight going. This is important since when you are normally picking up a weight the load stays the same, so you naturally slow the weight down when you get to the lockout to avoid over stressing your joints (think about the bench press and how snapping to the top would start to hurt your elbows especially with very light weights). This accommodating effect is important for translating training to sports like when you are sprinting or jumping you are trying to produce as much force as you can in to the ground to propel yourself where your highest force is at triple extension, where in the squat it will be coming right out of the hole to stand up with the weight.

Reasons to use this

Incorporating accommodating resistance is a great way to increase power and explosiveness in movements that don’t lend themselves to easily training that aspect (like presses and squats, Olympic lifts naturally train explosiveness). This can be a nice way to vary up your training and if you are having issues with pain in the bottom parts of movements you can set up your resistance so the heaviest load is at the top and the bottom is light enough to not cause problems. This can be very useful with older trainees. If you aren’t good at the movement to start and/or in good condition do not use accommodating resistance, instead just focus on learning the movement and getting stronger. Some don’t recommend using bands until you can squat well over 2x bodyweight as a marker.

Programming it in

Now since your goal with this is to enhance peak power and explosiveness you want to keep the rep number low in your sets. This means sets of three or less reps, so in order to get in enough volume you want to do higher amount of sets (typically 8 or more). The old school Westside recommendations are 8×3 on bench press 10-12×2 on squats and deadlifts are 10×1 (sets x reps). Think your goal is to get in 20-30 total good reps and each rep is done with maximal speed and power. You can focus on controlling the weight on the way down and pause in the bottom (or explode up immediately) then lift the weight quickly all the way up to lockout. This should be done at the beginning of your training session and your normal rotation should be one heavy lifting day per week and then one speed day per week. Slowly increase your training percentages each week starting with 50-60% of your max in that movement and increasing 2-5% per week for a month and then change your form of accommodation. This can be done by increasing or decreasing the band tension, using chain, or even switching to straight weight. Aim to only take a minute rest between each set with going a little less than that can be fine.


Speed work is fun and can be very productive. The goal is to truly develop power and explosiveness so both intent and programming must reflect that. If you haven’t done this before feel free to give it a try, but understand it is surprisingly intense on the body and does require a high amount of effort. Thanks as always for reading and if you have any questions please let me know.

The Garth

In my time of training and coaching on occasion we come up with a workout that is incredibly hard, but fun. Now don’t mistake training with stupid high intensity as a means to increase performance is a great thing to maintain for long periods of time. This only leads to burn out and/or an increased risk of injury. Instead on occasion a very hard workout is a great way to test yourself physically or mentally (sometimes both). So without further ado, here is a stupid hard conditioning method that my friends and I came up with one day.

The set up

When I was working on my masters I was training at a great gym in Saint Louis called Eagle Gym. They have lots of equipment for just about any type of training. The place is worth visiting just for the seeing some of the custom equipment that they have and the old school machines (second generation nautilus stuff). Tweak, Garth, and myself were wrapping up and decided to do some sprints with a prowler at the end of the workout. We set up in the parking lot using about a 100 foot section and loaded up the sled with 180lbs. We then pushed sled using a system where tweak pushed it to garth, garth pushed it to me, and I pushed this back to tweak. We did this back and forth for quite some time. The brutal part of it was twofold in that the low handle push is much harder and then as you get tired and other people aren’t getting tired your rest period gets shorter while theirs get longer since it take you longer to push the sled compared to your partners.

After doing who knows how many sprints with the sled, Garth proceeded to do a rainbow yawn in the parking lot and we called it a day. This is why the workout was named after Garth since he was the one who suffered the most from it and he gave it his all. Just to be clear I’m not glorifying the “working until you puke” mentality, but that is what occurred.

How this could be used

When working with athletes doing this “two people rest while one person works” rotation can be useful for general conditioning and to keep athletes busy along with helping them encourage each other. You can do this with larger groups so the rest periods get longer compared to the work periods like you have in sports like football. Sports where you have little to no rest having them actively following the sled and alternating can be very useful. You can do this also with shuttle runs, sprints in general, and just about anything else you can think of. This won’t develop maximal power or speed, but can be a useful way to put in a competitive part to conditioning with your athletes.


This is one of the many brutal training sessions that I have done with friends. If you liked this I will be sure to post more like these and maybe bring up the two most brutal workouts I have done with Tweak and Hop back in Saint Louis. I hope you enjoyed reading this and if you have any questions please let me know thanks for reading.

The Athlete Said: I Want To Win*

But the reality is:

* = No you don’t

When working with athletes I often find athletes that tell you how they “want to win”. This makes sense since no one wants to admit they just want to be mediocre. However, I find it important to pull back the comfortable blanket of denial and ignorance so they can be embraced by the brutal cold winds of reality. I’m very lucky that I get to work with a variety of athletes in different sports, but every sport has a number of things in common that are required to be successful. Here are a few questions that should guide an athlete to find any potential faults in their training of why they might not be successful on the level that they want to.

Do you work hard?

Showing up is easy, getting after it and working hard when you are there is a different story. Don’t get me wrong, showing up is the first major obstacle for a number of people who think they want to win, but when you get there do you warm up immediately? Do you work hard the entire practice or training session? Do you take time off to play on your phone or let yourself be pulled away by different distractions? If you aren’t familiar with hard work, don’t waste your time by trying to learn this by watching youtube videos. Pay attention to your teammates at practice, to the people you see in the gym. Who is giving it their all and putting in more to their training than you are? This is hard work. It is easy to think you work hard if everyone around you is loafing, but when you meet someone who works truly hard it makes it obvious the effort that you are putting in to your work.

Do you keep from complaining?

There is nothing wrong with voicing your opinion, but are you just complaining? Letting your coach and teammates know useful opinions of how things can be done better is useful. Complaining about how you wish things were is just wasting everyone’s time. Getting better is always uncomfortable and often in a number of ways. You are going to suffer some bumps and bruises so learn the line that separates being hurt from being injured. If you train when you are hurt you are making yourself and your team better, if you train while you are injured you risk not only making your injury worse, but potentially getting your teammates injured. This takes time and understanding, when in doubt work with an athletic trainer or other health professional that can assess you and let you know when you are ready to roll.

Do you do more work outside of practice?

Practice is great, this is where you can increase your skills as a team. Now let’s assume that in order for you to be a true master (in Ericsson’s research which is not a hard and fast rule) you need to practice for 10,000 hours deliberately. So this means if you are practice hard and focused (not loafing like was brought up earlier) each hour adds to this total. So if your team practices for 6 hours per week over the course of one year you will have put in 312 hours towards mastery. So now you just need to practice with your team for just about 30 more years and ta da you are a master. This is why you need to be training outside of practice, working on the parts of your craft or sport where you are the weakest. If you truly want to be the best this requires a huge time investment.

Do you make sacrifices so you can win?

The best teams and people make sacrifices to be that way. This can be in the form of not going out on the weekend to party. This can be never drinking. This can be missing different functions and holidays so you can train and compete. In some sports this can mean using substances that will potentially shorten your lifespan (PEDs (performance enhancing drugs)). Are you willing to make any of those sacrifices to be the best? Lots of people say they want to, but they aren’t willing to miss out on their social lives to be the best. I for one, am not currently willing to do steroids to be a better lifter though they would likely greatly enhance my recovery and subsequent performance.

Do you eat correctly for success?

This plays in to the sacrifices so you can win section. Your body is constructed out of what you eat. If you don’t eat enough you aren’t going to recover well and then perform better. If you eat too much you are going to gain the type of weight that won’t often help you. The food choices you make all impact your performance and recovery. If an athlete is not willing to look at and improve their diet they are missing out on a major magnitude of effect on performance. Don’t tell me how you want to be lean while you are eating cake or how you want to gain weight when you haven’t eaten breakfast or packed any food to eat that day. Bodybuilders are some of the most regimented people you will ever meet because they know it is diet that makes a huge effect on their ability to gain muscle mass and increase their performance.

Do you recover as hard as you need to?

This means are you sleeping enough? Do you take time to stretch and roll out in between or after practices? Are you doing active recovery like going for an easy walk or doing a light session? If you want to be the best athlete you can be and you are only sleeping 4 hours each night you are not going to be making great progress. Get off your phone and quit watching TV at night to let your brain unwind. Don’t just sit on the couch and vegetate at the end of the day. If you want to be the best you might have to start taking ice baths to enhance recovery or do other forms of recovery to help yourself come back faster.

Do you have the genetics for this sport?

This is a brutal reality of sport in that you can have the best work ethic, but if you are only 5’ tall you aren’t going to be a center in the NBA. This can also be useful in that it can show you how you do need to work that much harder than others since you aren’t blessed with the genetics that other people are. This is also what allows other athletes to seem like they are loafing compared to you due to their better genetics for performance.


Aside from the last question you can control each other question’s answer to a certain extent. If your goal is to be the best you have to do what others are often not going to do to improve. Be disciplined in your approach and make the sacrifices you need to in order to be successful. Most athletes aren’t willing to do everything that it takes to be truly successful. That’s ok, but simply know at the end of the day you are only lying to yourself.