Professional team post-pandemic learnings and how they apply

Athletes rely on coaching staff, trainers, dietitians, strength coaches, and sports scientists for optimal performance. Their understanding of athletes’ needs build relationships, fitness programs, and nutrition regimens for better individual support.

During COVID, this engagement had to be maintained. While athletes feared a decline in performance, coaches had to be accessible. Similar to athletes, non-athletes turn to someone for guidance or accountability. They also had to adjust to this new level of engagement.

Below are practices from the LA Galaxy that weekend warriors can apply to have healthy lifestyles post-pandemic.

The pandemic challenged the players and our connections. We ensured we stayed connected to keep the athletes motivated in reaching daily targets, short-term goals, and long-term progressions while also following their individual diet and training plans.  Social networking and video conferencing platforms were important in maintaining a semblance of normalcy.

We incorporated technology by providing a variety of tools, like heart rate monitors, GPS tracking units, Apple Watch wrist devices, Oura rings, which measure and monitor performance data such as resting heart rate, target heart rate zones, distance, high-speed running and sprinting, sleep duration and quality, and fatigue levels. By involving them, they became accountable of the data and its impact on performance.

Staying connected with fitness and nutrition isn’t just for professional athletes. Using these technologies with the advice of health professionals can be beneficial because they have the skills to reframe any confusion or feelings of doubt.

The industry relies on camaraderie, in person support, and fanfare. The LA Galaxy athletes are used to being with their teammates and coaches 11 months out of the year. According to research, camaraderie enhances psychosocial health, competence, character, confidence, and other growth-related factors. To help athletes feel the same one-on-one focus and support, we individualized fitness sessions and created nutrition plans to be followed at home.

Perhaps most important were the virtual check-ins which allowed us to maintain human connection. The activities kept a competitive spirit while building a sense of community.

Lifestyle changes include proper nutrition, physical activity, personalized plans, and support. Surrounding yourself with people with the same values will hold you accountable to show up, learn new things, and work harder. It also has a more calming effect than working alone. A consistent exercise regimen, a supportive community, and balanced nutrition creates a holistic approach for a healthy and happy life.

Recovery is not just about resting or stretching, but also facilitating mental recovery. As coaches, it is our responsibility to manage their stress levels.

With onsite training back, we are focused on mental health and reducing cognitive loads. With life taking up time and mental capacity, we minimize “thinking” as much as we can. We reduce their stress by maximizing recovery days—varying their recovery routines with activities like beach volleyball, pool sessions, ocean swims, and more. Another addition was allowing them to sleep in and do recovery yoga via Zoom. We also remind the players to focus on hydration and quality nutrition.

Recovery is important no matter your level of athletic performance. This promotes muscle strengthening and repair. Recovery practices can help you avoid future injuries and will significantly affect your training’s effectiveness. A combination of nutrients is essential for accelerating muscle recovery. Hydrating before, during, and after a workout replenishes nutrients lost during your workout.

Whether you are a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, you can train your body and mind to perform at their optimal levels through these lessons.

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