Many clients at our personal training Gym here in Singapore are competitive in a sport of some kind.
Because many of these clients are highly motivated types of people, they often play these sports competitively and want to do as well as possible in tournaments. The level of the tournament can range from school leagues to professional (i.e they do it for a living). They are serious about boosting their performance by the best possible training and nutrition methods.
Part of the personal training, or athletic training /strength and conditioning program is to get them to peak for the day of competition. Each sport is different and each sportsman /woman is also different.
But despite the differences in sports and activities there are some principles that hold true for almost any sport or athletic competition.
1. End your training with a “strength and power” phase of training. Some training programs are for growing muscles, some are for building endurance, but the program just before your competition should be one that emphasizes speed, strength and power. This will result in the best possible performance in your competition. An example of this is to use fast movements like speed squats in the weeks close to the competition. Other exercise methods like slow concentrics (lifting) should be used far away from the competition.
2. Don’t do your conditioning workouts too much, and don’t do them too early. You only need a few weeks to condition yourself for endurance/fitness. Your body’s ability to recover is limited so don’t waste it on that kind of activity so far from the competition date. And when you condition – ONLY use stuff that will be used in your sport. Long distance running is useless unless you are a long distance runner.
3. Finally, taper correctly for goodness sake. 2 weeks of no training before a competition is not a taper. It’s a disaster. In most cases, drop training 20-80% in the week approaching the competition depending on how you feel. The topic of tapering for competition is very complex and needs to be individualized.
Most importantly DON’T PANIC. If you have done too little and there is only a week to go before tournament, its too late! You cannot “cram” for physical performance. Do your best but learn from your mistakes.
But, more common, is that people do TOO MUCH before competition and enter feeling drained. The feeling you want is “I can’t wait to compete” when the game begins.
Things like this can make the difference between winning and losing (and for sure you don’t want to be off your game when your opponent is peaking).