Are you using your training time effectively?

Effective use of your training time.

As costs go up and the availability of training facilities becomes more scarce, effectively using your training time becomes more and more important. As much as competing allows you to gain experience in your chosen sport, practice is the single largest contributor to your development and your success on the field, court, rink, or pitch.

Goalie CoachGames aren’t won and lost on the field of competition. They’re decided in the weeks and months leading up to the contest. The winner is the one who works the hardest when no one else is watching. Champions spend more time doing the tough things in practice with the sole purpose of improving. Doing not just one or two things better than their competition but everything better. Winners are the ones who sacrifice more than their opponents to reach for their goals and show the determination to prepare to win.

“Swimming fast is about having the mental discipline to get every last detail right, every single day. The champion athlete does not simply do more of the same drills and sets as the other swimmers; he or she also does things better.”
-Dara Torres, 5-time US Olympian


I have spent the better part of 35 years in and around competitive sport and I am amazed at how much time, effort, and preparation athletes direct towards each and every competition while they give so little thought and attention to detail to their practice sessions. For a lot of athletes, scheduling a training session is about as much preparation for the practice that they do.

Champions make winning look easy because they don’t simply ‘turn on’ with effort when it comes to the big performances. Unlike their competition, they also put this effort or intensity into their preparation. On Game Day it’s all fun. They’ve put all their work in before and can enjoy the fruits of their labour. The competition tries to put all their work in at the event. A day late and a dollar short.

So how can you improve your training?

  • Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!!! Have a practice plan. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Yearly. The benefits of having a practice plan are many. You can get more useful work done in less time, saving you money and allowing you to fit in an effective practice where many of your competitors can’t.

  • Coach TalkSet goals. This is the driving force behind any improvements you wish to achieve. How can you practice effectively if you don’t know what you want to work on? How do you know if you are practicing effectively if you don’t evaluate your practice performance? Measure your goals!

  • Hire a coach. A good coach can provide you with the practice plans and help you with goal setting to make your practice more effective. There are reasons why nearly every elite athlete has a coach. There are reasons why almost nearly every youth athlete has a coach. They produce better athletes. They have the expertise to allow the athlete to focus on improving their skills while providing the structure and feedback needed during practice.

In athletics the real secret to success is not a secret at all. It comes down to who is willing to put in more effort, work smarter, and pay attention to the little details. Who is willing to prepare for success by sacrificing not during competition but when there is no one else around to watch but yourself.

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
– Vince Lombardi

Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

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  1. jane Newman-ralph
    7 years ago

    In Canada there are many teachers of agility but few coaches. I can think of only 1 and I am fortunate enough to be able to work with her once a month. For Agility to be recognized by Sport Canada we need to establish a coaching programme. Any suggestions?
    Jane


    • John Cullen
      7 years ago

      I think the first step would be to for a national agility organization to start certifying/accrediting coaches. For Sport Canada the coaching/educational component means that certification process needs to be based on the Coaching Association of Canada’s (CAC) National Coaching Certification Programme (NCCP). The national organization also needs to have an official Coaches Code of Conduct.

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