Complete Athlete Training Series: Day 2 – Body

Hello! Today we are going to dig into what the body does to play a part in your peak performance mindset and your ability to do your very best under pressure.

I’m Rebecca Smith. I am a sports psychology expert and I specialize in working with kids age 8 up to 18 on mental toughness: overcoming issues like fear, negative thinking, motivation. I am going to give you a quick overview of how your body can be maximized for peak performance.

Yesterday we talked about the mind.

That’s my specialty, obviously, as a sports psychology expert, but we are going to talk about how the body plays a part in allowing your mind to do it’s job.

If you are hungry, if you are tired, if you’re stressed out, if you’re not getting enough recovery time, you will be distracted.

I’m going to give you some simple tips that can help you laser focus in on doing the best you can. If you haven’t already, go to the bottom of this post and download your free toolkit. It’s got different logs, diagrams, information … so you can get more out of these trainings.

We talked about the mind yesterday, today’s the body. Tomorrow’s the spirit. Then we’ll go to the inner circle and out to the team or the community for our last day of this series. That’s how we get the whole athlete primed for performance.

The 4 inputs

There are four inputs that I always like to address with a client right out of the gates.

1. Physical Training

If you’re going to be an athlete you must train your body. This is everything from the weight room to the gym to stretching (and that is obviously important). That’s where most of the focus is.

2. Mental Training

This is catching on more and more. That’s what I specialize in and as more high profile teams get into the mental training it’s becoming more the norm. Then the other two are what I’m going to address today.

Consider your body as your vehicle for peak performance. If you are going to take your vehicle on a road trip you’d want to make sure that the tires were blown up right, I don’t know. My husband checks the tires. He makes sure we have enough gas and then we go and we gas up before. We make sure the oil’s good.

You get the machine ready for peak performance so that you have a better chance of getting where you want to go. This is the same with your body. You have to make sure that you’ve got enough gas and it’s the right kind of gas, so it’s the right foods. Also that you are taking care of it.

3. Rest & Recovery

A lot of the time athletes, we thrash our bodies and we just put them through the wringer and don’t give them time to heal and relax. I’m going to tell you what the research says about how to fuel and how to rest.

Disclaimer, I am not a nutrition expert. My specialty is the mental stuff but I’ve got some good resources that I’m going to share with you today. If you need more specialized help around nutrition please seek outside help. It’s something that can really help get you in the zone for peak performance.

First we’ll talk about sleep.

If you are age 25+ the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep. The minimum is seven, up to nine. Everybody is different so you might need less, you might need more. I know I’m on the upper end and I feel completely ineffective with less than eight hours, completely ineffective.

If you are between 14 and 17 you need eight to 10 hours. Most 14 to 17-year-olds are busy. They have AP classes, but if you don’t give yourself at least eight hours it’s going to be really difficult for you to do your best.

School age children need between nine and 11. That’s age six to 13. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and enough recovery, even it means taking a nap between school and practice if you can. Squeeze in 20 minutes, but get yourself rebooted for performance.

4. Nutrition

Now on to nutrition. My dear friend Jessica is a holistic nutrition consultant and she gave me some tips that I can share with you that are specific to young adult and adolescent athletes. The number one thing is Don’t skip breakfast. DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST.

Make sure that you’re eating high protein, carb rich things. There are a couple good reasons why breakfast is so important. First, it jump starts the metabolism and also it kicks your appetite into high gear so you can continue to be in touch with your body and what it needs from you as far as fuel throughout the day. Also, overnight, stomach acid accumulates and you’ve got to get something in there to absorb that. A lot of you are probably up and out the door early and it’s for school and if you’re a swimmer it’s for practice.

Good options for re-fueling

Some really great things that you can get on the go or if you’re traveling are:

  • Trail mix
  • Peanut butter on an apple
  • A small Greek yogurt with a banana
  • A couple of mini bagels, preferably wheat, whole grain with nut butter and a small cup of milk
  • A cheese stick along with a high protein bar like a KIND bar

Those are the kinds of things that you want to have in your bag. If you’re at a meet make sure you’ve got protein in your bag, but on competition day not too much fat and not too much fiber. Because those are the kinds of things that will make you feel heavy and weighed down.

First of all eat breakfast. Second of all make sure protein is a big part of your diet and plan your diet around protein. Making sure that you’re having different kinds of lean protein and that it’s a big part of every meal and every snack.

For a list of meal options, as well as sleep recommendations, be sure to download the Toolkit at the bottom of this post.

Then we’ve got to hydrate.

According to a study by the University of South Carolina, 75% of athletes age 8-18 are dehydrated when they show up at practice.

Did you know when you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated?

Make sure that you drink a big glass of water in the morning and always carry a water bottle with you. That way you’re not starting at a deficit. Just get in the habit of drinking clear liquids when you’re not thirsty.

The competition diet (on the day of):

  • Less fat
  • Less fiber
  • Make sure you’re getting lots of protein and carbs a

Check in with somebody if you’re not sure if you’re eating the right thing because one of the main takeaways from this is that you need to be prepared.

If you’re prepared, you’ve scheduled in enough sleep, you’ve scheduled in time to get your nutrition ready: to plan your snacks, to plan your meals. Then you will be ready and you won’t have to consider, “Did I eat too much? Did I not eat enough?”

As long as you’re ready, if you’ve done your prep, you can feel good about what you can go out and do.

If you’ve got your mental training already automated, your meals already ready, your sleep’s been had, you’re drinking enough water, then those are three different things you do not have to be distracted by.

All you need to do is just get out there, flip the switch and compete.

My big tip is make sure that you’ve prepared. Prepare mentally, prepare physically, and take care of your body.

If you have any questions please feel free to comment and I’ll get back to you. Thank you so much for watching, I’ll see you tomorrow!


Is your gymnast struggling with mental blocks or fear?  Check out my FREE resource for parents.

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