High 5 for Better Performance

I always find it interesting the different pre-game/race rituals of the various athletes we work with.

Some are very quiet and keep to themselves before competition. There is not a lot of talk or action. They may be bundled up in layers to stay warm with buds in their ears to block out distractions.

And then there are those that can’t wait to be let loose. They are bouncing around, loud and may even be a little bit obnoxious. American sprinter Maurice Green comes to mind when I think of this type of athlete.

American sprinter Maurice Greene.

We all can probably identify with one type or the other. For me, I always preferred to be quiet, calm and at rest before a race. I would go over the race in my head and visualize what a good race would look like, how it would feel and what I wanted to do to ensure success.

So what is the goal?

The graph below, the Yerkes-Dodson of Arousal and Performance, explains this well.

On this graph the x-axis (horizontal) shows the level of emotional arousal from low on the left side and high on the right side. The y-axis (vertical) depicts performance with low at the bottom and high at the top. For maximum performance we should seek a medium level of emotional arousal.

In the past, we’ve heard that we need to ‘put on our game face’ in order to perform. And for some that appear a little sleepy or lazy this may be the case. But for those are already ‘amped’ up we may not need more stimulation.

You may have seen instances where athletes use smelling salts prior to competition. This would be when an athlete ‘feels’ they are the left side of the graph, and thus below optimal performance.

Smelling salts are used by players to help increase their focus during competition. They should be avoided if the intent is to return to play prematurely i.e. after a concussion.

On the right side of the graph we have a situation where athletes are overly aroused and thus performance could be compromised. We could think of this in terms of an athlete that is overly excited and thus is compromised in terms of their ability read and react to a stimulus.

So what can we do for the athlete that lives on the far side of the graph and is overly aroused? Tom Brady might have the answer.

Giving a high 5 can help lower arousal levels and may lead to enhanced performance.

A 2019 study looked at the effect of a high five on psychological performance in athletes (1). What they found was a decrease in cortisol levels (a stress hormone) and some increase on motivation, strength and also helps to increase testosterone. If you are an athlete you can relate to the positive vibe associated with high fiving a coach, team-mate or supporter.

Another option would be the RPR system of Chris Korfist, Cal Dietz and JL Holdsworth (2). This program is based on the premise that most of us exist in a condition of survival or fight/flight. In this state there are limits on how we can perform and we develop compensatory patterns. This leads to potential injury and impedes performance.

The last thing to mention is to remember that there is training and there is competition. Not all training sets are meant to be all-out, best performances. And not all competition requires the same level of arousal. For example, it wouldn’t be unusual for the 100 m sprinter to be highly aroused and do a number of high knees tucks before settling into the blocks at the start. The same tactic before the start of the marathon would be very unusual however. So remember to distinguish between competitive events that are short duration, explosive and those that are longer duration and look to achieve the appropriate level of arousal.


  1. Lautenbach, F., Jeraj, D., Loeffler, J., & Musculus, L. (2019). Give Me Five? Examining the Psychophysiological Effects of High-Fives in Athletes. Applied psychophysiology and biofeedback44(3), 211-219.
  2. https://www.reflexiveperformance.com/about

The Problem with Going Vegan

In my last post I signed off by saying I got in trouble at the ski hill. And suggested that it may have been my new celebrity friends that saved me from having my ski pass revoked.

What to Drink for Your Goal

Do you like to drink? And unless you’re like a few of my college buddies I’m talking about during the day, while at work or at school.

Quantifying the Pre-Workout Meal

So we all know the importance of the pre-workout meal. Well, maybe I’m jumping the gun. I should say that I hope we all know the importance of the pre-workout meal.

3 Reasons Drinking Water Maybe a Bad Idea

There’s a commercial I remember seeing not too long ago. And it shows a girls’ soccer team drinking sports drinks during a break in the play. And one of the players asks the coach why they’re drinking sports drinks? And the coach replies saying ‘to replace the water you’ve lost’. So of course the player replies ‘if we’ve lost water why don’t we drink water?’

A Lengthened Spine For Optimal Perfomance

Necks are kind of interesting when it comes to training.

Depending on what a particular neck looks like it can either give us the impression of fitness or fatness.

And there are even images that come to mind to describe these two types of physiques. If someone is heavily muscled we can picture them with strong traps that run alongside a strong neck.

Launch of Fall Youth Fitness Training

This summer was one of the best in terms of our Youth Fitness Training.
It is so much fun to work with young athletes that have boundless amounts of energy and work hard for you.
These training camps keep getting better and better. To put it in perspective last year we had 3 athletes out and this year we had 22!
What is the secret to our success?
We make sure to design a well thought out and periodized training program with an emphasis on fun. Take for example the last day which consisted of a number of games, relays, tug of war battles and ‘Simon Says’. The only thing missing was a slip and slide and I’m already on it to make sure we have one for next year.

Meet the Newest Member of Our Team – Kayla Ungaro

One of the best things about my job is the people. From the people I get to work with on a day- to-day basis, to the colleagues I get to network with at conferences, to the fitness professionals I present to at clinics and finally to the young athletes who head out to compete at the highest levels there are many reasons to feel priveleged at what I get to do.

And every now and again I’ll work with an athlete who completes their competitive career and returns home to tell you they want to do what you do.

That’s an awesome feeling.

It makes me think I did something right somewhere along the way. And I don’t mean in terms of personal bests on the weight room floor or number of championships they won (although those things are really cool too).

Instead it feels good because they want to help others. They want to apply their abilities and education in a positive way. And they want to work alongside you in order to do so.

And right now that’s what has happened.

We’ve had the opportunity to take on a top flight university athlete as a summer intern.

What do I mean by top flight?

Oh I don’t know…how about:

2 National CIS Championships in soccer
3 BC High School Championship Basketball titles AND a BC High School Championship soccer title
A Provincial title in ringette
The Augie Cianconne Memorial Award as the Top Female Athlete of the Year for Kelowna
Offers from multiple universities to play university level basketball and soccer

Not too shabby, eh?

Well below is a short note from Kayla Ungaro to introduce you all to her. I’ll step aside and let you get to know her a little better.

I just finished up writing my final exams for my fourth year and decided to come home for the summer to work and be near my family.  I have been given the great opportunity to be able to work with Chris and learn under him for the summer, and wanted to share with you all a bit about myself. 

I was raised in Kelowna, and happy to call this beautiful city my home.  Growing up, I have always been involved in sports, whether playing, coaching or just watching.  As I entered my high school years at Immaculata, I was playing competitive soccer, ringette, basketball and volleyball. All were extremely time consuming and physically demanding on my body.  I started to get worn out from going from one sport practice to another in the same day, and having two different tournaments on the same weekend. 

In the ninth grade, I suffered an injury which caused me to sit for over 6 months. This injury really set me back, and I started to realize I was not able to play everything, even though I would have loved to.  I focused my emphasis on soccer and basketball, and had to quit playing ringette due to the conflicts.  During my grade 12 year, I was recruited to play soccer at both Trinity Western University and Simon Fraser University and basketball at Trinity.  This was one of my more difficult decisions to make, as I loved both sports. 

I chose to study and play soccer at Trinity, as I thought it was the best fit for me.  I played 3 years of CIS level soccer there, while studying for my bachelor’s degree in human kinetics.  I am currently finishing up my degree, and plan on going to grad school to study occupational therapy. I am also studying to write my CSCS certification in the next couple months.  I have also had the amazing opportunity to be involved with coaching, specifically this year with Special Olympics Basketball in the Lower Mainland.

After graduating from high school, I started training with Chris to help prepare myself for entering my rookie soccer season at Trinity. The strength and gains I made in my fitness level were tremendous.  This was my first experience with a strength coach and it was nothing but positive.  Having the opportunity to train with Chris made me want to enter in the fitness world.  I was able to see him work with various individuals of all backgrounds and it intrigued me to try this area out.  

Over the past semester, I took a course called “Advanced Principles of Strength Training” and had a project which allowed me to train an individual one on one.  This experience was over a couple of months, and it gave me a better idea of what this industry was like.  Not only do you have the chance to work with amazing people, I was able to help this individual start on the right track for living a healthy lifestyle.  Having the ability to help change an individual’s life in any way; whether its rehab from an injury, improvement in sport, or helping improve overall health is the most rewarding aspect of this industry.

I look forward to learning from Chris, as he is a great mentor to have and full of knowledge.  I am also excited to meet all of you and get to work with you over the summer, even if it’s running the sand dunes in the desert heat which we will hopefully be getting!

Well said Kayla!

I’ve always thought that the success of service based business in not in the equipment, the facility, the advertising or anything else that might be important.

Instead the success comes from having the best people possible. We all know Kayla is an incredible athlete. I’m excited for you all to meet her and get to see what a great person she is as well.

Welcome aboard Kayla!

***In the comments section below say hello. If you or one of your kids plays soccer, basketball or ringette make sure to let her know.***

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

ps…the article about ‘trail running being bad for your glutes’ was based on Kayla spraining her ankle recently while running trails…there has to be some level of hazing of the intern, right? 

pps…she also deadlifted 225 lbs from the floor today and made it look easy

4 Easy Stretches to Warm up for Golf

Do you golf?

If you do then you are aware of the demand there is for good mobility through the shoulders, mid and upper back as well as the hips.

And we can prepare ourselves for performance in golf by the things we do off the course. This includes our resistance training program as well as a good stretch and recovery protocol.

But besides the things that will help us perform well in golf there are some things we can do which don’t help at all.

These would include:
* not following a resistance training program
* not stretching or foam rolling
* having poor posture
* improper and inadequate warm-up prior to playing

The third condition, having a poor posture, is the result of sitting for much of the day. This can be sitting in the car, at the desk, at school, in front of the tv, at the computer and unfortunately, after all this sitting, on a bike at the gym.

While many of the things which should improve our performance on the course should be done in between our play on the course there are still some things we can do to loosen up before our first shot of the day.

Especially if we’re running late.

Because if you think about it ideally we’d like to:
* hit some balls at the range
* figure out our stragegy for the hole if it’s a new course
* get any other instructions from the marshall

before we have to tee one up.

But that doesn’t always happen..

And if you find yourself running late for your tee time you’ll be:
* stressed
* with an elevated heart rate
* and tightened, restricted muscles

none of which helps you to hit a good first shot.

So what should you do if you only have 3 minutes before teeing off?

Check out the video below where I give you 4 short great stretches to loosen up your shoulders, mid and upper back as well as your hips in all planes before you hit your first shot.

This will give you the best chance of success and minimize the potential for injury.

If you guys really like this topic and tip let me know it in the comments section and check this deal in a mevo flightscope monitor for only $499.

10 plus comments and I’ll give the complete guid to warming up for golf.

Before I sign off I have to give a big shout out to my nephew Samuel who acted as cameraman for this video. He wanted everyone to know he shot the video and that he’s 8 years old. I think he did a pretty good job for his effort behind the camera. Maybe I’ll bring him back for future segments.

Now let’s hear your comments below!

okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

How Strong is Your Conviction to Achieve Your Goal?

Hi there: Hope you’ve had a great week. Mine flew by partly due to being busy. But I did manage to fit in a date night with my wife. And we went out for dinner and then to see the movie Conviction. She’s not a huge Hilary Swank fan but we both did agree the show was pretty good. And it wasn’t until after the show was over that it occured to me that the title was a play on words.

You see the movie is about a couple of foster kids from small town Massasschusets. The brother is wrongly convicted of murder and the sister takes it upon herself to right this wrong and get her brother freed from jail. The only problem is that the sister is not a lawyer. Nor does she have degree to apply to law school. Nor a GED for that matter.

But that doesn’t stop her from doing whatever is necessary to achieve the end goal of freeing her brother from jail.

Initially I looked at the title and thought it had to do with the brother and his conviction. But in retrospect it had to do with the sister and her conviction to overturn his sentence.

So what does this have to with health, fitness, performance or anything?

Well there are two messages you can take from this movie. The first is the most successful people aren’t always the most gifted. Or the smartest. Or having the most of anything that is a pre-requisite for success in that field. Take Wayne Gretzky for example.

He didn’t have the hardest shot. He wasn’t the fastest skater. He was in no way a physical presence on the ice. (some reports have him scoring the lowest on the Oilers’ fitness testing). But he was the greatest player to ever play the game.

There are countless examples of people in business, sports and the arts that aren’t necessarily the most talented yet are the best in their field.

So what about you and I?

What’s our excuse? What is holding us back from achieving excellence?

Often times we are quick to find fault. We have a number of excuses at the ready for when things don’t go our way. We can ensure that  whatever the outcome is for us we have a defense in place to justify our mediocrity.

But are we really ok with this?

Probably not. I think we’re all capable of more. We can achieve excellence. We  have the potential to surpass our current levels.

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people with much less ability, education and opportunity than what we have that have achieved much more. If we are really serious about our goal and of wanting the best then we need to take immediate and decisive action towards that goal. This is the second part of success.

Now here are four things you can do towards achieving your goal.

1. Define your goal – Be as specific as posssible. Write it down. Post it on your fridge. Include numbers, dates and other details. You can also visit Georgia Lawyers from Angell Law Firm to learn everything. For example it might be to lose 11 lbs before Dec 20 and reduce waist size by 2 inches.

2. Determine how you will achieve your goal – By going to the gym a minimum of four days a week. By eliminating sugar intake as much as possible. By getting 8 hours of sleep a night. By drinking a glass of water before every meal.

3. Have contingencies in place – I once heard success defined as ‘getting up once more than you fall’. Nobody is perfect. Things don’t always go your way. But being prepared ahead of time allows you to deal with the setbacks that occur.

4. Plan a punishment or reward – If you achieve your goal maybe you buy yourself that pair of designer jeans that is 2″ smaller than your current size. Or if you don’t achieve your goal you buy two tickets to the game your husband has been begging to go to.

The reality is that we hear the expression ‘he or she over-achieved’ quite often. I don’t know if I believe that as much anymore. Instead I believe more that we can all do great things. And because I can’t say it any better I’ll let Henry Ford say it for me:

‘Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.’

Have a great weekend,

Chris.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’