Do you like getting advice? What about advice from the best people in the world?
For example, when you think of finances or investing, who comes to mind? Would you listen to what Warren Buffet had to say? What about Ray Dalio? Or Alan Greenspan?
Success leaves clues. And we can learn a lot from the best in the world. Fitness, performance and nutrition are no different. I’m always curious as to what the best in our industry think by attending live educational events, reading and picking their brains on social media.
Recently I asked a number of the top people in our industry the following:
‘If you could share one piece of advice with an athlete what would it be?’
And I compiled their answers below for you. While I would have loved to include all the answers below, for brevity I couldn’t include them all. Too see all the replies you can see the full thread here on my Facebook page. (see the January 18th post)
In no particular order here The Top Coaches Share Their One Best Tip.
1. Don’t expect people to help you. Help yourself. And get your parents to do your research and lead the charge. Natural selection can be cruel and inefficient. – Derek Hansen click here to view Derek’s bio
I like this as it speaks to advocating for yourself. You need to work for what you want. Ask for help. And when you think of building your IST (integrated support team) your parents should be the first people you turn to. They know you the best, probably like you more than most people and genuinely want to see you succeed.
2. Embrace variety: in food, in training, in friends, in activities, maybe not in spouses – Dr. Susan Kleiner click her to view Dr. Kleiner’s bio
I remember one of the definitions of a living organism is that is responds to stimuli. And when we stop being exposed new stimuli we stop responding. Imagine doing the exact same workout everyday. After a while we adapt and the results slow and stop. Or imagine only being exposed to certain types of view points or opinions? We may stop considering how the other side sees things, lacking understanding and empathy. Nutritionally it’s more fun and healthier to experience flavours and textures of food. I remember the expression to eat a rainbow when it comes to selecting fruits and vegetables. Off-seasons can be a great time to experiment with variety and try new things.
3. Live (and train) in the moment. Focus on the task at hand and be purposeful in all you do. By applying yourself to the task at hand, the end result will take care of itself. – Mike Van Tighem (like a really hot restaurant in a big city with no signage out front, I could not find a bio online for Mike)
I remember reading a business article a few years ago. And it talked about asking Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs the same question. No one knew what the other had said but they all gave the same answer. The question was:
‘What do you attribute most to your success?’
And the answer they all gave, independently, was focus. We live in a world that is constantly competing for your attention. Movies used to start with previews are now preceded by commercials. Social media shows us ads based on our search history. And friends rarely meet up without a device to stare to deal with awkward pauses.
With your training, be in the moment. You will get more out of the training experience. You will learn more. You are less to likely to be injured. Try and eliminate external distractions and focus on the moment.
4. You are much more likely to be one yard short than one pound short… (more important for young athletes who want to be “big”… speed is the most important capacity to develop) – Christian Thibaudeau click here to view Christian’s bio
This is a such an important point. Some athletes would benefit by being bigger. Some athletes would benefit by being fitter. All athletes would benefit by being faster. Unfortunately even when we seek speed as the end goal we will spend too much time lifting and not enough time sprinting.
Consider the following…
The fastest movement that can be done in a weight room is the barbell snatch. When done correctly the bar can reach speeds of just above 2 m/s. Compare that with sprinting which can reach speeds of over 11 m/s.
So the fastest Olympic lifting movement is at best 5.5 times slower than top-end sprinting. And sprinting doesn’t require a platform, a barbell, bumper plates or other gear. Plus sprinting trains something that may actually happen in competition.
5. Do the hard thing – Devin McConnell click here to view Devan’s bio
Sometimes the best advice is the simplest. And this tip is very simple. It can be very easy to always do what comes naturally to us. With energy system training maybe we’re great for one sprint but can never recover to do it again. And we ignore working on our fitness. With our lifting sessions maybe we focus on what we see in the mirror and forgo everything else. And with our overall preparation maybe want to live like everyone else but expect extraordinary results. So we don’t get enough rest. We don’t eat enough quality foods. And we don’t have a plan for success.
What is it that is hard for you? When do you seem to get off-track? Figure these out and put your attention here.
6. Embrace the obvious. Focus on the process and the results will take care of themselves. – Dan John click here to view Dan’s bio
Sometimes we know what needs to be done in order to have success. Yet we falter. Maybe this is due to procrastination. Maybe it’s due to fear of failure. For some it might just be laziness. Regardless of the reason success comes when we recognize what needs to be done and take small, consistent steps in that direction.
When you are committed to the process you establish habits that are hard to undue. And one positive habit helps you make other positive choices. For example, if you made getting to bed every night by 10 pm a goal you will lose weight. You are less likely to sleep in for your morning training sessions. Once you train you are more likely to make healthy nutritional choices. And with enough repetition of going to bed on time you will lose weight.
7. Prepare to perform. Don’t prepare for perfection. Jordan Cheyne click here to view Jordan’s bio
Athletes will all have those days when everything comes together. Their training was on point. Their taper and rest was ideal. They were properly fueled during the event. And if there is equipment involved, it worked well with no mechanical distractions.
But while this can happen it is rare. Sometimes the elements aren’t in our favour. Maybe we experience GI distress. Perhaps travel or accommodation can be altered at the last minute. Many more things could go wrong at the last minute. Yet we still need to perform.
Don’t take anything for granted. Prepare for all conditions. Have contingency plans in place. Train in unfavourable conditions so you have experience when things aren’t ideal.
All of this ensures complete preparation and develops mental toughness. And then all that is left is to perform.
8. Once you have an opportunity beyond whatever level you had managed to successfully graduate up to, play the game that got you the higher opportunity.
Many athletes gain try-outs to a higher level and change their game. Stick with what got folks interested in looking closer at you.
Along the way, become defined by 1-2 things that stand out far above others.
There all many athletes who are good at everything, who don’t make it to the top.
You must also have a couple of differentiating abilities.
These are usually specific skills that define you as a step above.
In hockey that could be things like always making the first pass up ice crisp and accurate, always getting a strong shot from the point thru to the net, winning high % of face offs, being a relentless prick in front of the net, a knack for open ice hits, etc – without a couple of attributes that stand above everyone, being good at everything rarely pays off. – Peter Twist click here to view Peter’s bio
Peter’s tip reminds me of a book, Out of My League, by Dick Hayhurst. The book tells the first person account of a player trying to make it through the minors to Major League Baseball. The author explains the stress and frustration of trying to make and stay in the big leagues. And sometimes the challenge is that a team drafts a player because of an ability. But the player feels more comfortable playing another style. If the player goes with what they are confident and fails, the teams cuts or demotes the player for not listening and ultimately failing. If the player tries to do what the team is asking but doesn’t have the confidence or skill this will become evident and more than likely they will fail.
As Peter suggests find out what you are really good at and then be the best you can possibly be at that one thing. If you know the name Dennis Rodman than you know what it was he was going to be the best at. He was going to out rebound the other team. But forget it if you were going to ask him to drive the lane, pull for a three or anything else.
Sometimes this one thing can very obvious as to what you contribute. Other times it might be so straight forward. In that case consider what you do as well as everyone else but what no one else is willing to do.
9. Athletes can do things the average person cannot. Almost everything the average person can do so can an athlete. To achieve greatness athletes must choose things that they average person can’t and won’t do. Chris Collins click here to view Chris’s bio
If you know me you’ll know I’m rarely impressed with talent. Sure it’s fun to see big numbers put up at skills competitions and competitions. But usually the players that set records at combines or in testing aren’t the same ones that go on to have hall of fame careers. Instead what is more important is to have enough talent and ability and then make positive choices repeatedly.
Consider the following…
When a star high school athlete graduates they may move on to a university program. And now there become options and choices available to them. Mom and dad aren’t there to remind them to go to bed. No one is watching if they go out partying. They are able to choose this all their own.
The thing is that anyone can stay up late. Anyone can go to a party. Anyone can experiment with this substance or behaviour. There is nothing elite or special about doing what everyone can do. Compare this with making an all-star team, or qualifying for Olympic trials or maybe even going to the Olympics. This is something special that not everyone can do.
Talent will only get you so far. In order to be truly great you need to say no to some things along the way. You need to do the things others won’t do and decline the things anyone can do in order to maximize your potential.