Building Blocks of a High-Performance Lifestyle

Building Blocks of a High-Performance Lifestyle

The philosophy behind the High-Performance Lifestyle is acknowledging that everything matters! It helps us to better understand and recognize that we need to develop the entire athlete, and that suboptimal execution in any of the categories means leaving performance on the table. Here we will dissect each of the 5 categories of a High-Performance Lifestyle.

Sport Practice & Games

It’s vital to remember that PRACTICE develops skills… GAMES display skills in a competitive environment. Each is equally important, but skill acquisition requires time spent in a closed/controlled environment (practice) before being able to implement successfully in a game. It also means being in an environment where you can try and fail without consequence. When it comes to skill acquisition there are 3 stages; cognitive, associative and autonomous. Depending on the ability level of the athlete and the skills they’re trying to learn each athlete may spend different amounts of time in each stage. Working to develop a practice plan that has the appropriate ratio of practices to games will put athletes in the best position to be successful in both developing/acquiring skills and displaying them.

Summary of Fitts and Posner

Nutrition & Hydration

For athletes, changing your mindset of what we think about nutrition is important. Athletes train and eat to perform; we never diet, but rather adjust calories as needed to need demands/goals. Performance nutrition is both about what you eat and when you eat. Just like a warm-up prepares you train, pre- / post-nutrition primes you to fuel for the work ahead or help recovery to then perform later.

Before a game/practice athlete should look to eat Low GI Foods within 1hr before training to achieve max results. This fuels your session allowing you to perform to your best. During the event, look to eat High GI Foods this will help Fuel for Now. Post event, look to eat protein and carbs to help jump start the recovery process. This helps you recovery and achieve optimal increases in your muscles through nutrition.

For hydration, the best advice given by research is to drink to thirst. If you are feeling thirsty, sip on water until your thirst is quenched.  When thinking about hydration for performance, something to take into account is adding in sodium or other electrolytes to help retain water and reduce cramping. This can be best achieved through a sports drink or supplements prior to games.

High GI and low GI Foods chart

Strength & Conditioning

S&C is the cornerstone in which athleticism is built. It facilitates the development of a well-rounded and robust athlete. An individual who is generally more athletic will have a higher potential to be a more skilled player in their primary sport when they do decide to specialize. A well-designed S&C Program will include speed, power, strength, and conditioning and can help athletes:

  • Reduce injury risk
  • Increase skill acquisition
  • Increase speed, power, strength & conditioning
  • Increase work capacity to practice and play longer without demonstrating fatigue
  • Increase tendon/ligament strength and bone density
Blue table

Sleep & Recovery

Hard training, practice and games is great and necessary to reach the highest level, but if these aren’t supported with good recovery strategies athlete will be leaving performance on the table. When it comes to sleep and recovery it helps to focus on the 4 R’s:


Supports healing, rebuilds energy supply, reduces physiological stress by consuming high-quality food sources post practice/game.


Restores/replaces fluid levels lost via sweat by consuming post practice/game water and electrolyte solution. Monitor hydration with pre- and post-training weigh-ins or urine color.


Utilize active recovery, massage, epsom salt baths, cold tubs, etc. to help facilitate recovery and get your body feeling better.


Fatigued athletes are at a higher risk of overtraining or sustaining a soft-tissue injury. To combat this, athletes should try to get 8-10 hrs on sleep per night. A recent study showed that athletes who get <8hrs of sleep a night have 1.7x greater risk of being injured than those who sleep >8 hrs.

Likehood of injury based on hours of sleep per night


In sports one of the biggest misconceptions is the ability to train Mental Toughness. Mental Toughness can be defined as, effectively coping with pressure and adversity, the ability to recover from setbacks and refusing to quit. One of the best ways to increase an athlete’s mental toughness is by understanding Dyadic Coping.

Often time’s parents and coaches forget that participating in sports can be stressful to athletes in a multitude of different ways. Coping is a self-regulatory mechanism that is used to help destress an individual by managing life events. Dyadic Coping, is a partnership between two people (a coach and an athlete in this example) and the interactions that are affected by it. The goal is to create a relationship that isn’t so focused on the coach being an authoritative figure but someone who cares about your personal well-being above everything else, especially in the youth setting. Coaches and Athletes should encourage a relationship built around open and honest discussions about stress from family, pressure, school, and friends that they are struggling to cope with. Through open dialogue and honest conversations this will also help understand the growth and stressors that have been built between the coach and athlete relationship that is typically seen in sports.

BONUS: Managing Academics

Academic stress and the inability of an athlete to manage an academic schedule can have negative effects on their risk of injury. One study looking at stress-injury models of health suggests that athletes will experience more injuries during times of high stress (regardless of where that stress is derived from). These researchers found that players were 3.19x more likely to have an injury restriction during weeks when they had high academic stress, such as midterms or finals, then during weeks when they had low academic stress. Knowing this, athletes should develop a good life balance and take advantage of academic support services as needed.  

For athletes looking to make the most out of their athletic abilities it is important to have a good understanding of a High-Performance Lifestyle and taking the needed sets to bring up any of the sub-categories they’re lacking in.  

Erik Jernstrom

Director of Sports Performance @ EForce

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