#3: The 3 Non-Negotiables for Elite Performance

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Elite Performance…it’s what our players are after, and what we want for our athletes, right? Athletes want so badly to…

  • have confidence from the inside out
  • have consistent performance
  • play to potential 
  • experience continuous improvement
  • move past mistakes quickly
  • come in clutch 

And as parents and coaches, we want these things for our athletes, too. And it’s hard to know what to do when we notice those things aren’t happening. 

But, sometimes it seems like the path to get there seems non-existent. 

What I hear from players and parents is that athletes are working hard, getting extra reps in, training, and doing everything they can to achieve Elite Performance, but aren’t always seeing the results they want!

They feel like they don’t know what else to do, and they’ve tried everything. 

More often than not, it’s because one of the following three pillars to elite performance is missing. 

So, that’s what we’re talking about today! 

To ensure your daughter is on the path to confidence and elite performance in her sport, there are three non-negotiables that have to be present in her training. They are like the three legs to a stool. The stool won’t hold up or be effective without all three! 

So, let’s get into it. The first non-negotiable to elite performance is…

#1 Knowledge of the Sport

This refers to the ins and outs of the game. Beyond the rules, she needs to know the tactics and have an IQ when it comes to her sport. The more knowledge she can have of how to perform the required skills, what her role and position is in relation to the rest of the team, and what is required of her in that position, the better. 

This also refers to game strategy, having situational awareness on the court/field, and thinking ahead to put herself and her team in the best position to perform well. 

I’ll also take this a step further and include that knowledge also refers to the intangibles that make all the difference on the court. Knowledge of how to be a good teammate, how to be a leader, and how to best serve her team in the role she is in is key. 

How do players develop more knowledge in this area?

  1. Good coaching. Coaches who explain the “why” behind drills, skills, and strategy help players understand and think for themselves as well. 
  2. Having a life-long learning attitude. Players who seek to learn, ask questions, and have an open-mind tend to have better knowledge of the sport. 
  3. Seeking resources. Players can’t depend on coaches alone. Seek out training, talk to older players, watch the professionals and learn from them. Take the learning into your own hands!

#2 Physical Training

Usually players have no problem in this area! The physical training includes the reps players get at practice as well as the time and work spent outside of practice physically training the body. 

This is where most players spend most of their time because it’s the most obvious and can be translated to the court/field visibility. 

However, not all training is the same. And, just showing up to practice is much different than actually getting better. 

Player A and player B can put in the same amount of time in training, but the quality of reps and the effort put in can vary greatly. 

To ensure you’re getting the most out of your physical training, make sure to…

  1. Practice intentional reps. You’re either getting better, or enforcing bad habits through each rep. Be intentional with the skills you’re practicing and make every rep count.
  2. Give maximum effort. Always! This also includes working on weaknesses and giving time and effort to areas of your game you may struggle in.
  3. Take care of your body. Proper sleep, nutrition, hydration, recovery, and training programs that emphasize these things are essential. You cannot be at your best if you’re injured or can only give 60% effort because of lack of sleep or recovery.

#3 Mental Training

This is typically where athletes are unbalanced in their approach to elite performance. 

However, if you’re putting in the physical work, getting extra training, getting reps, and working your hardest…but aren’t seeing results, I’m guessing it’s because of this key pillar that’s missing. 

Putting in extra hours on the court/field/in the gym will help you improve. Increased competence leads to increased confidence. 

However, these things won’t always change the way you THINK, your mindset, how you perceive failure, and confidence on a deep level. 

Without the mental training, at one point or another in your development, you’ll reach a dead end, get stuck, or only achieve a certain level of performance. It’s only when we combine the physical with the mental training that athletes can reach their full potential. 

When I refer to mental training, I’m talking about:

-Setting visions and intentions for the type of athlete you want to be

-Visualizing success

-Having pre and post competition routines

-Failure recovery systems to bounce back from mistakes

-Being intentional with self-talk

-Crushing limiting beliefs that hold you back

-Letting go of anxiety and perfectionism

-Coming in clutch

-Focus and proper breathwork

-Managing stress

All of these things have a profound impact on performance. And, elite performance cannot be achieved without them. Yet, they typically aren’t trained as much (if at all) when it comes to the physical part of the game. 

There are a variety of reasons why this is. Usually stemming from a lack of understanding of the value, coaches not knowing how to implement it, a lack of resources, and seeing mental training as an afterthought only when a problem arises. 

True mental training is a daily practice that elite athletes utilize to become the confident athlete they desire to be and to perform consistently well. 

Here’s how to ensure you’re training the mental game:

  1. Daily affirmations + Visualization. What we focus on expands. Focusing on daily affirmations and visualizing them is key when it comes to becoming the athlete you want to be. 
  2. Have consistent routines. This includes pre and post game routines as well as routines to recover from failure. 
  3. Have support + accountability. Seeking mental training resources, whether that be in the form of a coach, resources, podcasts, books, or courses is a small investment you can make in yourself that will lead to big gains on the court/field. Just like any skill, mental training needs to be learned and practiced. 

So there you have it. The three non-negotiables to elite performance. Knowledge of the sport, physical training, and mental training. Athletes absolutely need all three in order to reach their full potential, and I hope that by tuning in today you can pinpoint what might be missing and how to cultivate that as a parent, athlete, or coach.

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