Five habits to avoid during your training sessions to become a more competitive athlete.
“Every thing you do is training.” EVERYTHING you do is training. This is one of the most important things to keep in mind and is the first thing I tell every person I coach. If you're running slow during training, you can’t expect to pick up the pace during competition, because you’ve trained yourself to run slow. If you don’t focus and mess around during training, you’re training yourself to not focus and will mess up during competition. If your Self-Talk and thinking is negative, saying things like, “I hate hills” as a runner, or “We never do well against this team”, you’re training yourself to have a negative mentality,
creating negative triggers to whatever you find challenging and it will affect your confidence.
Whatever habits you form during training will be carried over into competition, so make sure the habits you form are good - good training habits, good mental habits, good eating habits, good social, rest and recovery habits - because all of this will have an impact on your training and competition.
And to become a more competitive athlete, there are a couple of things you need to avoid during training. These habits form quickly for a number of reasons, are formed unconsciously, but affect your competitions dramatically.
Here are my top 5 training habits to avoid:
1. Only going through the motions.
This is probably one of the most ineffective ways to approach a training session and usually happens when you have forgotten the goal of the session. You’ll be lazy, unfocused and it’ll be an unstructured practice. This will cause bad performance in competition and will effect your confidence.
2. Lack of focus and intensity.
The way you train will effect the way you compete. If you don’t concentrate during training, you will struggle to do it in competition and it’s the same when training with a low level of intensity.
Total focus and high intensity in your training cause faster fitness.
If your focus and intensity is lacking in training, and you’re thinking, “I’ll really focus and pick up my intensity in the game.”, you are setting yourself up to fail, because your fitness won’t be what it should be and keeping the intensity high gets very hard when you get tired, and even more so trying to stay focused. Loss of intensity and concentration happens quickly when you get tired. So during training, stay focused & keep your intensity high so that you can be
fit for each game/competition/event and have strong confidence that even when you do get tired, your ability to stay focused will be up for the challenge.
Having a lack of focus and low intensity each training will become a habit. Eventually your practice sessions become set-ups for failure, because this habit will be taken into competition.
Over-training normally happens when you forget why you are training - not trusting the process and forgetting the specific goals you’ve set out to improve on and now it becomes about something else.
Reasons to avoid over-training:
• Training too long and too vigorous with not enough rest usually results in getting injuries from overworking your body.
• A lot of times over-training is happens when you’re trying to prove yourself or comparing yourself to others and can cause you to train outside of your margins / beyond your physical abilities, causing injuries and high expectations on yourself, from yourself and from others.
4. Only training to perfect your technique.
Many people are perfectionistic and get stuck in a training mentality, trying mainly to improve their technique for it to look smooth and perfect, which they’ll take into competition. If that doesn’t pay off, they’ll do it again and again and will lose confidence in competition because it just doesn’t look or feel right.
You have to go from a training mindset to a trusting mindset and remember that you are allowed to win ugly. Many people also struggle with social approval. All they want to do is impress family, friends, fans, opponents, the crowd or
the selectors who are watching. They just want some acknowledgement: a pat on the back from someone; a “Well done, champ.”, or “Wow, that was awesome!”, from a fan and for their social media platforms to buzz with praise. These are all external motivators and will break down your confidence when it’s lacking. Rather be internally motivated, like really loving what you’re doing and stay focused on the goals of your training. Always be mindful of the process and why you are training.
5. Slow transitions between stations.
This usually comes into play when you have time limits to your training sessions and you have to move from one station / set to another, i.e. a rugby practice where you have different skills / drills to learn or a CrossFit gym session. If you don’t transition fast you are wasting and losing time on the whole session. This is especially bad when you are part of
a team setup, because it doesn’t just effect you, but the rest of the team and the
It’s important to:
Firstly, identify what are the main causes of slow transitions, secondly, address them with the team and eliminate them, which will take discipline to keep, and thirdly, commit to a higher standard of effectiveness.
Some reasons for slow transitions may be because of a lack of fitness - that while everyone should be jogging to the next station, some are just walking slow; or that some didn’t focus when the next station was communicated and they don’t know where to go, or that players were talking to each other while the coach was speaking and so they didn’t listen, or the coach hasn’t prepared well and he himself and his communication is unclear.
In the old days all of these reasons would be regarded as disrespect and it needs to stop in order to have effective transitions between stations. Whatever your reasons may be for slow transitions, I would put it all within a lack of mindfulness. If people are mindful of each other, they’d keep quiet and listen; if they’re mindful of the time, they’d move faster to the next station; if they’re mindful of the purpose of training and the goal of each session, they’ll become a more respectful, focused, disciplined and effective athlete.