Updated: Jun 4
You cannot become an elite athlete overnight. It takes a long period of constant training that is periodized and specific to your goals. If you do not have the desire and motivation to succeed, you will start being inconsistent, and before long, you will end up quitting. Having the right knowledge early on can help you avoid detours that can hinder your consistency and motivation.
Still, it is practically impossible to be an expert in everything. There is too much information about training, nutrition, physiology, biomechanics, psychology, injury prevention, and the list goes on. However, missing out in a key area can be the difference between success and not. Every piece of information can be detrimental to your training as everything is linked together. Physiology is linked to athletic success; Biomechanics is linked to the learning of new skills, and we cannot hope to achieve either if we are constantly injured (thus knowledge on injuries and injury prevention is also key) and without being psychologically prepared. The importance of nutrition for athletic success has also been repeatedly scientifically proven. This is why athletes are usually supported by a team of professionals which include coaches, physiotherapists, performance analysts, sports scientists, nutritionists, and psychologists.
Having a team of professionals is not always possible for every athlete. Therefore, they may be forced to study multiple areas. These athletes usually become the best coaches as they delve deeply into the path of acquiring new knowledge. Whilst specializing in one area is indeed important, these athletes often do not have a choice as they need to expand their repertoire. In these blogs, we will delve deep into various aspects an athlete needs to understand, whilst we also analyze how different disciplines link together.
Athletes and coaches with a wide area of knowledge can often see the bigger picture and not make an assumption based on their area of expertise. For example, a runner may report having knee pains. A physiotherapist may analyze if there are any problems within the actual structure of the knees whilst a trainee may analyze the running technique. In reality, it could also be a combination of both so having a wide area of knowledge will help you analyze a variety of variables without being limited to a particular bias. Developing a network with other professionals can also help you seek assistance and ask them for their point of view about a problem to gather different perspectives.
Studying different disciplines will give you an advantage over people who over-specialize only in one area. It will give you the tools to solve different performance-related problems, and most importantly, new knowledge will help you pave your way to the very best version of yourself. Complex problems rarely are derived from a single cause. As I previously highlighted, it is practically impossible to specialize in wide areas of study. However, knowing the fundamentals in a variety of different areas, whilst you still specialize in one area can help you be more practical when tackling a problem. For example, whilst nutritionists will be the ones that will specialize in nutrition, knowing the fundamentals of nutrition can help coaches and athletes better prepare a balanced lifestyle plan with good nutritious, unprocessed foods to improve performance. Simple changes such as switching to whole and unprocessed food can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. It is also important to note that a nutritionist will have different goals than a coach or an athlete. A nutritionist’s goals may be to improve the health and performance of the athlete whilst the athlete’s and coach’s goals may be to win a major competition. Therefore, coaches and athletes may opt to include ‘unhealthier’ solutions to the diet such as drastically cutting down food to make weight, include some supplements that may not be entirely healthy but might improve performance, or include high-calorie processed foods to reach the high energy demands required by athletes. That is why apart from having a fundamental understanding of nutrition, coaches and athletes need to work together with a specialized team including nutritionists to help guide them to healthier and sustainable solutions.
By expanding your knowledge on different areas, you can be part of the decisions that are being made about your health and performance. and make better decisions.
Thanks for reading, and as always stay fit!