Spring sport Athletes:
You've spent months by now preparing for these next few weeks of your seasons. Your coaches are most likely going to begin tapering your workouts so as to improve your abilities to give 100% come time for competition, but there are things you can be doing outside of practice to end your season by beating a personal record (and possibly, earning a trip to the state championship).
1. Listen to your coach.
When your coach says give 65/75/85%, DO IT. They're doing it for a reason. If you're used to going harder, understand to keep your body performing at a high level, it's imperative that the workouts decrease in intensity to maximize your body's ability to peak at the end of the season.
2. Minimize change.
Do your best to not add anything new to your routine within a week of a big game, or meet. Your body's ability to adapt will be thrown off, as many of your workouts aren't changing during the season. You'll likely be sore, and will not be able to run as fast, or jump as high. Any changes to your routine, including adding different lifts in the weight room, should be included at least 8 days prior to a big competition.
1. Get your rest.
Make sure you're getting an adequate amount of rest each night. I won't say you need at least 8 hours, because some bodies just don't struggle to function on less sleep, but sleeping is a massive part of rebooting your brain function for mental stamina, and allows your muscles to repair.
2. Ice down any sore spots.
If you have a prior injury that could potentially be affected by the sport you're currently playing, make sure to listen and respond to what your body is telling you. If an old injury is inflamed, be sure to ice and take ibuprofen as needed to minimize swelling.
3. Communicate with your coach.
If you have old injuries that are acting up, make sure to let your coach know so that he's aware you're trying to preserve your body for competition. Take it easy during practice, and make sure to visit your athletic trainer so he can help you manage your symptoms. If you saw a physical therapist for treatment of that injury, give them a call and ask what you can do to improve your symptoms. It may get you back to practicing at 100% faster, and allow you to feel more confident going into competition.
4. Eat well.
Make sure you're eating plenty of proteins to fuel your muscles as they recuperate from the breakdown that follows trying practices. Carb load around 12-24 hours prior to a big competition, and make sure you EAT the day of your competition - even if you're nervous. Be sure to get carbs and proteins in following your competition, as that's when your body is most receptive to the nutrients. And as always, drink plenty of water to help flush toxins out of your system, both before and after.
5. Seniors - you're not done just yet.
Seniors: this one goes out specifically to you. We know how difficult it is to see your friends who aren't involved in spring sports enjoying the end of their senior year, and how hard it is to not be able to be a part of that yet. However, you still are a member of a team that you've made a commitment to, and your commitment was to give your team the best you have. Spending your weekends partying will not only inhibit your ability to perform, but can get you into serious trouble if you're caught and turned in. Most schools don't hesitate to remove athletes from competition, or even the team, who get in trouble outside of school. Not only might you not be able to compete in your most important games of the season, but you may not earn your athletic letters. Don't make this season a bust by taking the risk and making a mistake, you have all summer to enjoy your friends before you leave for college - and you want to be proud of the way you end your season.