In my coaching experience, I’ve found that a sound work ethic in sport is a prime prerequisite for athletic success. Rather than just going through the motions during training sessions, it pays to focus on quality each and every time. It’s a safe bet that none of us enjoy being placed into a challenging situation or environment that we are unprepared to face, so here are a few basics to help you consistently bring quality to your workouts.
- Make a Concentrated Effort During each Training Session: Knowing the what and why of each workout gives purpose and meaning to your training sessions, so it’s always beneficial to be familiar with, and to understand your coach’s explanation about the details of the workout…It’s also helpful to ask yourself what it is you want to get out of each training session, and then commit to taking the necessary steps on that day to make it happen.
- Practice with a Purpose: Effective athletes know exactly what they want to achieve during daily training sessions and how each aspect of training contributes to their individual goals and/or performance outcomes. Consider developing a daily training focus by setting clear goals for each practice session.
A sharpened focus during practice helps you to concentrate on the real purpose of a particular workout and promotes a “quality vs. quantity” mentality toward training. For example, instead of using your watch or Garmin with workout duration or mileage totals to solely guide your efforts it can be beneficial for you to focus on achieving the actual purpose of the workout as your 1st priority for the session.
Setting clear daily goals for practice, and reviewing them just prior to each training session can ensure that you enter each session with a focal point for yourself. An occasional review of a ‘training cue” (such as the words ‘Here’, ‘Now’) can help to prevent your mind from wandering, and to keep you on the task at hand.
- The ‘Overs’ of Quality Practice: Trying to do too much, too soon and expecting too much, too soon is frequently a common pitfall. Patience and understanding the cumulative effect of quality practice (i.e. focusing on self-improvement from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year) can go a long way in relieving training (and performance) frustration.
- Feedback-Internal: One of the most critical factors in determining the effectiveness of quality practice is feedback, or information you receive about your training sessions. Developing a ‘feel” for your own movement patterns and skills are two forms of internal feedback that are often overlooked and underdeveloped. It’s easy to become distracted by the external factors in the environment and to lose focus on self-regulation, and performing your skills from the inside out.
- Quality Rest: When you engage in the demands of quality practice, it pays to also engage in quality rest. Sleep is often overlooked as an integral part of quality training, but it’s essential to both your well-being and your improvement as an athlete. Rest, restoration, re-energize, rejuvenate - all terrific ‘R’ words and concepts that will pay off big time when implemented into your training.