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Real Food Ideas to Eat While Exercising

If you are going to be exercising for a long time–more than 90 minutes or so–you will need to fuel during exercise in order to keep from bonking. Sports like cycling, running, triathlon, and athletes with long training sessions like soccer and basketball players need to eat during training.

Not all foods are great for eating during exercise. Foods with high fat, fiber, and protein are slow to digest. This means they will not get digested and into working muscles quickly. Instead, they will sit in your stomach. This may cause stomach distress, but also does not help your working muscles.

Aim for foods that have simple carbohydrates. Sports food companies have created a variety of products, like gummies, gels, chews, and drinks that all contain simple carbs to help fuel your workout. But these are expensive, and some people don’t really enjoy the taste of the sweet products.

Here are some real food alternatives to mix up your fueling routine.

  • Dry, low fiber cereal (Rice Krispies, Chex, etc.)
  • Pretzels (Bonus! The salt provides electrolytes!)
  • White bagels or rolls (add jam for an extra carb boost)
  • Rice balls (these can be plain, or with salt, nut butters, cut up dates, raisins, or soy sauce)
  • Pop Tarts
  • Honey packets
  • Banana or other fruit
  • Fruit leather/dried fruit
  • Rice Krispie treats
  • Saltine crackers
  • Fruit juice
  • Applesauce pouch
  • Mashed potato
  • Graham crackers

For more ideas with portion sizes, download our free fueling guide! Happy training!

~This is general information only and not medical advice. Always ask your doctor before undergoing any diet or lifestyle change. 



What is better: hot or cold therapy?

Sauna tents, cold plunges, ice baths, heat packs…what is best? And do you need both, like with contrast bathing where you alternate hot and cold therapy? It all depends on the circumstances and your goals!

Does heat or cold reduce inflammation?

Cold can reduce inflammation and swelling, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing all the time. When an injury occurs, inflammation is what helps with the healing process. Blunting inflammation immediately after being injured may not be ideal. Always consult with a doctor, physical therapist, orthopedist, or other healthcare professional before doing any kind of home treatment for an injury.

Cold therapy (Ice baths, ice packs, cryotherapy)

Pros: Mixed research suggests it may:

  • Speed up recovery
  • Enhance power the next day after a hard workout
  • Improve performance
  • Increase high intensity sprint performance
  • Have an analgesic effect (dulls or numbs pain)
  • Lower sensation of muscle soreness
  • Decreased muscle swelling
  • Decreased inflammation

You may want to use ice baths when you need to perform well on back-to-back hard days, such as two-a-day workouts or important multi-day competitions. They can also be helpful if you are fatigued or injured and need to make the next session really count. Ice baths can help cool body core temperature to improve performance in very hot weather.

Cons: While ice baths may help with recovery or blunting pain, they may not be great for long-term gains. Most research in this area shows it blunts a key signaling protein that helps with muscle building and recovery.

One really cool study took athletes through an exercise protocol, then gave them a protein shake and used tracers so they could see exactly where the protein molecules ended up in the body. They had the athletes place one leg in an ice bath and the other in a neutral temperature bath. The leg in the cold bath took up significantly less amino acids from the protein shake. This means that the cold bath blunted training adaptations and muscle rebuilding and repair. Longer-term similar studies have shown lower muscle protein synthesis and muscle mass and strength when using cold baths.

Heat therapy (Saunas, hot tubs, hot baths, heat packs)

Pros: It feels so nice! Heat therapy can help with body acclamation to hot weather. If you live in a cold climate but are headed to a hot/humid location for a training camp or big outdoor adventure, heat therapy can train your body to tolerate the weather.

Heat therapy for injury

Heat therapy can help make tight muscles feel more relaxed. It may be helpful for chronic tightness or overuse injuries. Heat shouldn’t be used if there is any kind of swelling. Heat also dampens inflammation on an acute injury, which is not ideal.

Other potential pros include:

  • Increased blood flow
  • Increased skin temperature
  • Analgesic effect (pain relief)
  • Increased range of motion (may be important if flexibility is key to your athletic endeavor)
  • Increased connective tissue elasticity
  • Improved capillary circulation
  • Decreased perceived muscle stiffness

Cons: Heat doesn’t do much to penetrate below the skin, so it will not have any profound effects. There is a risk for burns, especially with fragile skin (such as over wounds), so use caution when using heat.

Is contrast bathing good for injury?

Contrast bathing: (Alternating cold and hot therapies)

Alternating cold and heat is not new, but there is very limited research on its usefulness and effectiveness. It seems to be, at best, a way to reduce perception of pain and fatigue. There is not enough research to determine specific protocols or even if they are effective (or ineffective!). It seems that for now it can be used for pain relief, but there is such limited understanding and research that I would not recommend alternating cold and hot therapies for long-term or short-term recovery. Anecdotally, physical therapists report that outcomes seem to depend on the individual. Some people swear by it, others don’t see a good outcome.

So should you use hot or cold therapy, or contrast bathing? If you’re looking for quick recovery or pain relief, these are viable options. Steer clear of cold therapy if you’d like to see long-term gains.

~This is general information only and not medical advice. Always ask your healthcare provider before doing any kind of intervention or therapy. 



As a sports dietitian, I have specialized training in supplements and their indicated use. And I have NEVER recommended a greens powder to any client. Why? It seems healthy! Isn’t it a good way to get extra nutrients? Or what if you are not a fan of vegetables, should you use a greens powder then? Still probably not, and here is why. Please note this is my opinion! It is not medical advice or a nutrition recommendation.

Do greens powders actually work?

It depends on your definition of “work.” By “work,” do you mean they are expensive and likely not as useful as fruits and vegetables in their whole form? Greens powders are marketed to be able to do all sorts of things, like help with aging, digestion, cognition, immunity, stress management, and more. It is cheaper and likely healthier to get benefits of greens through whole veggies. The entire food matrix has many substances that could be lost (or too concentrated) in a greens powder.

Problems with greens powders

One product doesn’t usually do multiple things for your body effectively, safely, or even at all. Multiple health claims are a red flag. Another red flag is they usually have multiple ingredients. One very popular one boasts 75 ingredients–as if this is a good thing. This is actually quite problematic. Why? Multiple ingredients means you don’t know how they will interact with each other. Is it the therapeutic dose for each ingredient? Is each ingredient actually then absorbed properly if 74 other ingredients are taken at the same time? Is it harmful to take in 75 different ingredients/vitamins/minerals/adaptogens? Many compounds in powdered greens (especially ones with 75 ingredients) can interact with medications. (DOI: 10.31080/rcpt.2022.10.00693)

Greens powders are often very expensive but have limited evidence for usefulness.

They have risk for contaminants, including harmful bacteria and fecal matter ???? from chlorella and spirulina (common ingredients in greens powders) PMID: 29169006

Are there any side effects with greens powders?

While some don’t list caffeine on the label, some have green tea extract, a common source of caffeine. One testimonial on a popular greens powder website (that has green tea extract) says “I don’t drink coffee…due to a caffeine allergy, but AG works fantastic…to get me amped up for the day!” Guess what, buddy, you are probably amped from the caffeine.  If you don’t know you are getting caffeine from this product, you may also get other sources throughout the day. Too much caffeine may be harmful for sleep and heart health, become addicting, and cause irritability and jitters. Some powders may also upset digestion.

Supplements are unregulated in the US. You have no idea what is in the bottle. The actual ingredients and the label do not have to match up. If you choose to use a greens powder, use one that is third-party tested NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice. Contaminants have been found in many supplements include heavy metals, prohormones, steroid-like compounds, and more.

Are there any benefits to greens powders?

If you literally never eat fruits and vegetables, you may possibly benefit from a greens powder. Look for one that is third-party tested for contaminants, and look for one that has simple ingredients such as powdered vegetables and leafy greens, without a lot of additional ingredients that seem to be thrown in for marketing purposes. However, training your taste buds to tolerate vegetables is a much better route for overall health.

For these reasons, I have never recommended that someone start a greens powder. You are much better off and safer just eating your fruits & veggies!

Want more information? Check out our amazing nutrition resources, including on-demand courses, free downloads, and webinar replays.

And be sure to follow us on Instagram!



Close your eyes and imagine performing a skill – really picture yourself doing it.

What you’ve just done is called visualization, which means representing a movement or routine, a process in which athletes use all their senses to create a mental image of what they want to achieve.

Chances are you’ve heard of it or even tried it before. This word is thrown around in sport, but athletes often don’t understand the impact it can have. So, why should you visualize? And how can you do it more effectively? Our sport and performance psychologists weigh in with tips.


Visualization is important for improving performance in a range of different ways. A vast amount of research has shown the many different benefits of visualiZation, which include:

  • Allowing athletes to stay confident and focused by regulating any nerves or stressors. 
  • Motivating them by giving them a vision of what they want to achieve.
  • Growing muscle strength by enhancing the cortical output signal, creating a higher level of muscle activation and therefore increasing strength.
  • Increasing focus of attention.
  • Reducing tension and fear.
  • Helping athletes learn to be more positive – mental practice is characterized by positive and successful representations, eliminating negative thoughts.
  • Allowing athletes to develop a more disciplined, organized and planned type of thinking, raising a greater awareness of the skills they perform.
  • Better preparing athletes for stressful situations.
  • Helping with pain management and performance endurance.

Another interesting bonus is that it can even help you come back from injury stronger. Research has shown that simply visualizing an action produces muscle patterns that are similar to those produced when the action is actually carried out. Therefore, whilst an injured athlete cannot practice their skills, they can practice visualizing it to make the execution easier when they are able to practice again.


Make it physical

You’ve probably been encouraged to carry out visualization when “lying or sitting comfortably”. However, this can be ineffective as it will relax you rather than offer the necessary arousal you need to perform well.

Instead, visualization should be a physical process, where you imagine the relevant physical characteristics. For example, footballers should try and carry out visualization standing as they would before a penalty, wearing the same clothes that they would play in, or even holding a football by their feet.

Use all your senses

When visualizing, engage your body’s sensory system. Visualize a vivid picture so real you can almost touch it. Not just what would you see, but what you would hear and feel, too.

Get emotional with it

The role of emotions in sport is often underestimated. Try and visualize the positive emotions you will experience when on the pitch as this will improve your performance. However, don’t let any negative emotions creep into your visualizations. To find out more about how to better manage emotions.

Replicate the environment

Research has also found that replicating the environment can be beneficial.

For example, golfers who visualized their bunker shots whilst stood in a tray of sand showed an enhanced execution of such shots on the golf course. Whilst it may be impossible to carry out visualization on the actual competition course, athletes should try and carry out visualization in an environment that is as similar as possible.

Make it specific

When carrying out task visualization, you need to try and be as realistic as possible to ensure the imagery is specific to your abilities and level of performance.

In other words, don’t visualize a skill that is way too advanced for you, and don’t visualize skills differently to how you actually perform them. It is vital that what you visualize is specific to you and realistically applicable to your performance.

Done in real time

Try to imagine the timing of the action you are visualizing. Timing is key to the success of many skills, so visualizing them in “real time” is much more beneficial. However, slow motion imagery can be useful at times if you want to focus on more specific movements and skills you find most difficult.

Keep it updated

As an athlete, you should be continuously reviewing and adapting your visualizations as you make improvements and develop. This is so that what you imagine matches what you are now able to produce. If you’re still visualizing a basic skill when you are now able to do a more advanced version, this will not be beneficial.

Keep perspective

So, how should you visualize yourself playing?

Whether you see yourself in the first person (through your own eyes) or in the third person (as if you are watching yourself on the TV) probably does not matter too much and is simply down to personal preference.

It may be that you use a combination of the two: using the first-person perspective to mimic what you actually see when you are playing, and the third-person perspective to analyze the different components of the skill you’re visualizing.

Visualize regularly

To perform at your best, you need to be pumping two key hormones: dopamine and noradrenaline. Visualization releases both – so the more you do it, the better equipped you’ll be for performance. Improving your mental skills is the same as improving your physical ones – it takes repetition and focused practice.


Visualization isn’t a substitute for training, but using it regularly alongside your training will help you to become the best athlete you can be. Aim to carry out the process in a similar environment to where you will be performing it, imagine what emotions you will feel, and adapt your routine to your evolving abilities.

Visualization is a complex process, made up of many different aspects. Therefore, it needs to be practiced. You would never dream of showing up to an event and trying a new skill for the first time – and you should treat visualization in the same way. Practice your visualization so that when it comes to competition day, you can use it effectively.

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JV Oct 5 '22 · Comments: 1 · Tags: #athletes, #mentalgame, #visualization, #sport, #positive

Sports season is about to start again!

For supporters and spectators, this is great news – for athletes, not always. Pushing your body back to its maximum fitness and performing at your best regularly again is painful, not just physically, but mentally as well.

However, this pain comes with the territory. The key is to know how to block it out and push past it – and this is where sport psychology comes in. A great way to get ready for the season is to work with a sport psychologist, but you can also try the following tips…



A lot of athletes don’t look forward to pre-season because it’s the rebuilding of fitness following the ‘‘off-season’’. After an extended break to mentally and physically recover, research has shown that athletes tend to experience a significant drop-off in fitness across multiple areas.

Without a well-structured pre-season, players won’t be prepared to play as they did before.

Therefore, pre-season involves the “building” of conditioning and skills, which involves progressively overloading the body to improve fitness. To do this, coaches usually increase training load 2 to 4 times during this period.

It’s vital to a successful season, but it also isn’t pretty. It’s tough and challenging, requiring athletes to push their bodies and mind as far as they’ll go, and coaches to find a precise balance between optimal preparation and avoiding overtraining and injuries.


Set small goals

We often advise our athletes to set both long-term and short-term goals.

When it comes to pre-season, because it can be so tough, it’s good to set yourself some shorter-term goals (i.e., what you need to do this week). This can help break down a seemingly impossible and distant goal into more tangible simple steps.

These small steps can help keep you on the right path and provide short term incentives and accomplishments that will eventually add up to carry you to the end of the upcoming season.

Have the right perspective

Remember to go in with the right expectations. You’re not going to be as fit or as strong as you were before the break. Don’t expect to be as good as you were straight away. Remind yourself that it takes time and that you have to work for it.

Being aware of what it’s going to look like and that it’s going to be tough will help prepare you for what’s to come. Take it day by day and focus on being in the moment, don’t get caught up worrying about what you need to do in the distant future, and you won’t risk getting deflated when everything isn’t perfect straight away.

Control your emotions

It’s tough when you aren’t performing the way you know you can. It can be upsetting and frustrating. However, letting these emotions get to you can be detrimental for not only your performance but also your motivation and mindset.

Emotional control is a crucial part of excellence in sport. Therefore, athletes must learn to control their emotions when they are finding it tough or not where they want to be yet. Some of our top tips include:

  • Listen to songs that get you in the right state of mind before practice
  • Take control of how you talk to yourself – make it helpful and rational, and say no to negative thoughts
  • Visualize things that reduce stress and anxiety
  • With support from others, face your fears head on
  • Relax your body by clenching and then releasing your muscles
  • Take deep breaths to lower your heart rate and help you relax

Work on your mental game

Use the time in pre-season to not only brush up on your physical skills but also your mental skills. This is a good time to work on mental tools you might use throughout competition season.

Practice your visualizationself-talk and controlling your emotions, find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Then, when it comes to the competition floor and the nerves are hitting, you’ll know what to do to calm yourself down and perform to your best.

Change your mindset to push through the pain

Athletes experience a lot of pain during pre-season. This cannot be avoided, but how you view this pain is important. You should aim to be able to recognize that pushing through it will help give you the physiological adaptation necessary to get back to where you were and improve your performance.

Visualization can also help motivate you to push through the pain. Visualize yourself finishing the challenge: what will this look like and how will you feel? You should try and picture the positive emotions you will experience and use this to push on.


It’s going to be tough but using these tips will help you complete pre-season and show up to your first event of the season a better athlete than ever, ready to perform to your full potential.

See it as an exciting challenge rather than a threat and before you know it, you’ll be back in full fitness playing at your best. Work hard; you don’t want to look back and wish you had put more effort in!

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Are our emotions something that help us when it comes to sport, or do they hold us back? The answer? Both. Learning how to balance and control your emotions is what matters.In our first part of this two part series,  we covered five strategies to help regulate emotion ranging from facing your fears head on, to listening to inspiring music to get you in the zone. This was based on research by Professor Marc Jones at Staffordshire University on how athletes can better manage their emotions when competing. In this second part, we cover tips 6-10.


Try tensing your muscles for a few seconds and then consciously relaxing them to feel a sense of calm, physically as well as mentally. Research shows  that this leads to a reduced heart rate, lesser feelings of physical exhaustion, and diminished anxiety. 


Try to emulate athletes that deal with emotionally difficult situations well; this is an effective strategy to manage anger and stress. For instance it has been shown that Role-playing exercises off pitch reduce angry behavior on pitch. The ability to learn from others is a hallmark of developing a growth mindset and a very important life skill.


Keep a journal or review film of situations where strong emotions arise during play and how you dealt with them. This allows you to identify which emotions are healthy, competitive ones for you and which are not. This is important to know so that you can get the best from your emotional state. Keeping a diary to improve self-awareness is a simple and effective way to improve metacognition. This can be incredibly effective when combined with challenging self-handicapping thoughts (check out part one of this blog), as your newfound awareness can help you identify which thoughts and emotions need challenging.


The more important you believe the situation to be, the more likely you are to have a strong emotional response to it. Research suggest that reminding yourself that “it’s just another match” can help reduce the noise and intensity that emotions can bring.

Reframing our ideas of failure and success can also be effective. In the earlier mentioned research by Professor Jones, he details an example where a Premier League striker was struggling to score goals, and feeling down because of it. Helping him reframe his definition of success to include all the other things he was doing well helped raise his spirits and find his goal scoring form again.


Much like muscle relaxation, focusing on taking deep slow breaths can be an important factor in regulating emotion. These breaths increase feelings of relief and lead to lower physical symptoms of negative emotions such as muscle tension.  It also provides a sense of control of the situations, slows things time and gives you space to consider how best to proceed.


Every athlete no matter their level needs to learn how to balance their emotions. There is no perfect formula. What works well for someone else is no guarantee that it will work well for you. Using some of the techniques described in both parts of this blog series will provide a strong platform to explore what works best for you.



What does it take to really excel in the world of elite sport? The ability to deliver your best when it matters the most is a fundamental part of performing under pressure. Can this ability be taught, learned and developed?

We have previously explored why some athletes perform better under pressure than othersand what it takes to thrive in a pressurized environments.  However, what makes emotions in sport so complicated is that no emotion is truly good or bad during competition. For example, anger can make you try harder, but it can also make you lose focus on the task at hand.

Even two people experiencing the same emotion can react in different ways. So a  footballer who is embarrassed about missing too many shots may shy away from receiving the ball, whereas another might react by calling for it more to get a chance to redeem themselves.

Research by Professor Marc Jonesat Staffordshire University offers fascinating insight into how athletes can better manage their emotions when competing. In this two part blog series, we are going to look at 10 tips to control emotions in sport based on his research.


Listening to musicis a great way for an athlete to get into the zone. Upbeat or inspirational music for example improves an athlete’s confidence and motivation, leading to better on pitch performance. Music acts as a way to boost arousal levels whilst also helping to block out distracting thoughts. Click here to read moreabout the impact of music on performance in sports.


Negative self-talk leads to a poor emotional state, which in turn hurts athletic performance. Replacing it with positive self-talk such as “I played really well in my last match” or “I’ve succeeded at this before, I know I can now” counters negative emotions and creates positive ones too.   This positive self-talk creates helpful emotions such as happiness. As many as 76% of elite level figure skaters utilise this techniqueto cope with the stress of competition. For more tips on how to talk to yourself, check out our blog on ithereand how self-talk is linked to growth mindset.


If you find yourself stressed out over competing or are worried about failing,  try imagining positive scenarios like scoring a goal. As a young athlete, Wayne Rooneyused to lie in bed imagining himself scoring goals and dribbling around defenders. He uses these visualisation techniques this day and credits them for his accomplishments.

It has been found thatimagery focused on toughness, control, and confidence leads to increased motivation, emotion regulation, and self-belief. This is a great technique to do the night before a matchor just before you go out to compete.


It’s important to consistently review your behavior both on pitch and off to ensure it is helping, not hindering your performance. If you are exerting energy and focus on behavior that is hurting you, you’re wasting energy.

One elite tennis playerin this study was asked how many times in her career she argued with the referee and how often it had actually resulted in a call being changed (very rarely). The massive difference in the energy wasted compared to the result she gained, helped her realise there were better things to choose to focus on.


As discussed in our blog on The Fear of Failure, psychologists believe that there are three ways people cope with situations. These are Avoidant, Emotional and Problem Focused. Let’s say you are worried about snakes in your garden. You could decide to never go into your garden again (avoidance focused), or convince yourself that having snakes in your back garden isn’t that bad (emotion focused) or go into your garden and get rid of the snakes (problem focused). 

Whereas avoidance and emotional focused coping may provide a short relief, problem focused coping addresses the issue head on, allowing you to make long term gains. Don’t be an ostrich and bury your head in the sand. If something is worrying you, work out how you can make it better.

JV Oct 3 '22 · Comments: 1 · Tags: #athletes, #control, #emotions, #pressure, #competition

Date: 03.01.2021

Explosive strength performance is the result of a partnership between your muscles and nervous system. The muscles are the ‘engine’ and the nervous system is the ‘governor / control panel’. Explosive strength is also known as power, which is the combination of strength and speed together. When the nervous system commands the muscles to fire at a maximal rate, the body is putting out the most effort possible. The formula for power is “force x velocity” aka the ability to express force quickly. When athletes train with maximal intent on each rep, or whatever activity they’re performing, they’re working to move with maximal force and velocity every time. These repeated efforts lead to enhanced power output / explosive strength, speed and, consequently, more athletic ability.

Athletes that possess the rare combination of both speed and strength are virtually unstoppable. By training strength and speed concurrently, athletes will develop their power in sprinting, jumping, change of direction and overall force production and force absorption.  Force absorption is a rare quality that helps athletes become more durable / less injury-prone. In sports like football, this is probably the most valuable attribute for any athlete. If an athlete is fast and strong but not durable, they will not last long. That is why mobility is so important, which is the flexibility of athletes’ joints and the stability around them.

Training systems that produce the best results prioritize strength, speed, conditioning, and mobility. All together, these attributes contribute to enhanced performance and power potential for the athlete. All things equal, the more powerful athletes are, the more potential they have to win and dominate in whatever arena they compete.


        Poised During Competition   

                             What is the most overlooked aspect of being an athlete?

You can probably come up with a list of possibilities:

  1. Time management
  2. Nutrition
  3. Speed and agility
  4. Weight training
  5. Flexibility
  6. Quick decision making

No doubt that many of these aspects can improve athletic performance.

However, athletes most often neglect themselves or their mental well-being. In recent years, the news has brought to the forefront many athletes who have come forth to talk about mental well-being, such as Lane Johnson (football), Michael Phelps (swimming), Simone Biles (gymnastics), Naomi Osaka (tennis), etc.

These high-profile athletes have highlighted how competitive pressure and life stressors have significantly impacted their lives and mental well-being.

                                 3 Misconceptions about the Mental Health of Athletes

MISCONCEPTION #1: “Focusing on mental health is a sign of mental weakness.”

Mental health is stigmatized, especially in the world of sport. Recognizing the importance of mental well-being or the need for tending to mental health is a sign of strength.

The term “mental toughness” is often thrown around in the sporting world. However, mental toughness is not putting your head down and blasting through adversity. Mental toughness is recognizing the existence of adverse times, determining the cause and scope of the issues, and finding solutions or assistance to face our hardships.

MISCONCEPTION #2: “Elite athletes do not have mental health issues.”

When you think of a word to describe elite, Olympic, and professional athletes, you probably think of “warrior.” However, watching athletes compete, you only see a tiny portion of who they are. Just because an athlete has not publicly admitted to experiencing mental health issues doesn’t mean problems are nonexistent.

Athletes are more than physical beings. Prioritizing mental health helps you deal with the pressure of competition and life stressors.

MISCONCEPTION #3: “Mental health does not affect athletic performance.”

Some athletes can compete at a high level while experiencing emotional turmoil. However, athletes are not two separate people. It is ludicrous to think you can take the athlete out of the person or the person out of the athlete. 

While we can learn to minimize mental health effects with outside help, putting a lid on our problems can have devastating impacts on who we are as athletes and humans in a stress-filled world.

NBA basketball player Kevin Love summed up mental health in the following statement.

LOVE: “Everyone is going through something that we can’t see. The thing is because we can’t see it, we don’t know who is going through what and we don’t know when and we don’t always know why. Mental health is an invisible thing, but it touches all of us at some point or another. It is part of life.”

It all boils down to one guiding principle. Athletes are people. People are emotional beings. Emotional beings will experience problems in many areas of life. You can become the best versions of yourself when you reach out for support.

Your mental well-being affects every aspect of your life. If you want to become successful in athletics, education, business, relationships, and life in general, you cannot afford to neglect your mental well-being.

                                Tip for Athletes Tending to their Mental Well-Being: 

This tip is essential. Mental well-being is crucial for our overall health. It is vital to overcome the stigma of mental well-being and the belief that personal issues are a sign of weakness.

Not only is it okay to ask for support, but support is also necessary to become the best athlete and person we can become.


By Patrick Cohn

        Perfectionist in the Game

How You Can Become the Best Athlete You Can Be

How do you become the best athlete you can be? Why do so many athletes fall well short of their potential?

When you understand the factors that interfere with improvement, you can apply mental strategies to build motivation and move your game forward.

How many times have you dreaded going to practice? You feel practice has become a punishment. Even games are no longer fun.

Many young athletes drop out of their sport at early ages. Many of those athletes feel too much pressure, feel not good enough, or aren’t seeing significant improvement in their game. No matter the reason, sport should be a positive experience for youth athletes.

Let’s look at what elite athletes do to maintain their motivation and strive to reach their potential.

Forward Sophia Smith plays for the United States Women’s National Team and the Portland Thorns FC of the National Women’s Soccer League. Smith was selected by Portland with the first overall pick of the 2020 NWSL College Draft and is highly committed to honing her craft.

Smith believes the key to athletic success is finding a healthy balance between constantly challenging yourself and enjoying the experience.

SMITH: “[Reaching my potential] is really hard balance and something that I have always [worked on], and I’m still trying to figure out to this day – how to balance it in a healthy way. I always want to push myself and to strive for more, and never be satisfied. And I think that’s great, and I think that’s what all the best players in the world have to do. That’s the mindset that they have to have. And then, at the same time, I think if I am forgetting to have fun, I’m not going to be playing at my best. I’ll be putting too much stress and pressure on myself to the point where it’s showing on the field. And that’s absolutely not what I want.”

Maintaining confidence, staying motivated, and uncovering your potential involves finding a healthy balance between striving to improve and enjoying the process.

5 Essential Ingredients to Maximize your Sporting Experience
  1. Don’t compare yourself to other athletes – Comparison is the quickest way to lose confidence in your abilities and talent. Strive to be a better player than you were yesterday.
  2. Shoot for progress, not perfection – Trying to be perfect will cause you to give in (give less effort) or give up (quit your sport altogether).
  3. Enjoy the grind – Find reasons to challenge yourself each training session or practice. One small practice goal can motivate you to push yourself, even during monotonous training sessions.
  4. Be patient – Nothing happens overnight. Elite, Olympic, and professional athletes grind for years. That is the reason they become elite. Even though you don’t see immediate improvement, it does not mean you are not progressing.
  5. Have fun – When you have fun, you will persist longer and be more willing to make the sacrifices needed to be your best.

Success is not easy. However, it should not be a miserable experience either.

Tip for Maximizing Athletic Success

The recipe for success is quite simple: work hard, challenge yourself, find a balance between life inside and outside of sport, and have fun.

If you can accomplish these four tasks regularly, you will achieve more than you can imagine.




         Moving Forward After a Bad Performance

How do you respond to constructive criticism? Do you reject it outright or welcome it from coaches?

Why do some athletes reject corrections or constructive feedback from their coach?

Athletes fear receiving constructive criticism for several reasons:

  • They feel they are negatively being judged.
  • The criticism confirms some self-doubt they have about themselves.
  • They have perfectionist standards.
  • They fear they are letting down others.
  • They are given feedback in an aggressive or disapproving tone.

Some athletes see the criticism as a list of everything they do wrong. In these instances, the feedback is dismissed or ignored. Other athletes view criticism as constructive or advice on how to improve their game.

Accepting and using feedback is a critical mental skill for athletes. When you develop this mental skill, feedback will not feel like an attack on your ability but like a suggestion on how to improve your performance.

However, not every coach or parent is skilled in how to provide feedback effectively. So finding the message in the criticism is up to you.

Here’s a practical example from the Boston Celtics. The Celtics had built an 18-point lead against the Golden State Warriors in the first half of Game 3 in the 2022 NBA Finals.

Boston built the lead by playing tough defense and controlling the ball on offense. The Celtics became reckless with the ball, committing foolish turnovers and allowing the Warriors to climb back into the game.

In the fourth quarter, Boston head coach Ime Udoka was fuming during a timeout. After the timeout, the Celtics collected themselves, regained their composure, and eventually won the game 116-100.

After the game, Boston guard Marcus Smart commented on how the team acted on the coach’s feedback and was not offended by the tone of the message.

SMART: “You want to know what you’re doing wrong so you can fix it. You can’t fix nothing if you don’t know what the problem is. So we definitely appreciate his honesty and his openness.”

Criticism can feel like an attack, but often there is a message that you can focus on and disregard the negative tone.

It is normal for your defense mechanism to kick in, but criticism can be helpful or, at least, the message within the criticism. Rather than throwing out the message due to the negative delivery and the person delivering the message, grab hold of the parts of the feedback that can help your game.

How to Use Constructive Criticism:

When you receive criticism, ask yourself three questions:

1. What is the message?
2. Does this message apply to me?
3. If yes, how can I use this feedback to improve my game?

And do this:

1. Communicate with the person giving you feedback. Clarify the message.

2. Challenge your defensiveness. Find out why are you bothered by receiving feedback?

3. Focus on the message itself, not how the message is delivered. How the message was given is not as important as the information.

4. Ask yourself if the feedback can help you and, if so, how you can apply it to your game.

By Peter Cohn


Antonio Brown has a history of concussions which can lead to CTE. One symptom

of  CTE is “erratic behavior.” Calling a “tantrum,” an “incident,” a meltdown shows a 

lack of understanding and knowledge. Brown and other @NFLplayers are playing 

undiagnosed. Living life with chronic headaches, changes in mood- including 

depression and agitation, and not realizing these are all symptoms of CTE.

Junior Seau died of suicide after coping with CTE symptoms for most of his life. Some say Seau chose to shoot himself in the chest instead of his head so his brain could be studied. They did, he had CTE. Lived his whole life not knowing, but knew “something was wrong.”


Get educated before you judge





Regular screening, diagnosis, and growing awareness of CTE is essential! When brains are injured and it causes mental health challenges.


Full article

Written by: Lisa Bonta Sumii

Publish date: Jan 3, 2022


There are many misconceptions in youth sports and society when it comes to training. One of the most detrimental is that “female athletes shouldn’t lift heavy weights because it will make them ‘bulky’”. This is far from the truth. Female athletes need to lift light, moderate and heavy weights. They should begin as early as 12 years old to help speed up athletic performance development. This will also keep them from experiencing a career-altering injury. According to studies, between 2010 and 2020 ACL tears were at an all-time high for ages 12-15, especially amongst female athletes. Most of these ACL tears happen during non-contact, athletic movement. This means a lack of stability and strength in the ankles, knees, hips, trunk and shoulders are to blame. 

We have a solution for this – by improving stability through training the bio-mechanical efficiency needed for slow and explosive movement. The SFX Athletes training philosophy is: as soon as athletes are able to play sports, they need to start performance training. Effective performance training begins with developing a foundation of ankle, knee, hip, trunk and shoulder stability. We teach athletes how to crawl, walk and run efficiently and in a safe manner. We love to do this from day one.

The first step in development is incorporating stability in the warm ups and cool downs every single day. Step two, build strength from the ground up and the inside out. This means we add in weight training that compliments the stability work. Step three is adding in plyometric exercises to compliment the strength development. This means we begin speeding things up and increase the ability of producing and absorbing force – the main factors in keeping the athlete healthy and strong while competing. 

Female athletes at the professional and collegiate level have access to elite strength and conditioning coaching. At the high school level and below, this kind of training is rare. High school athletes need strength and conditioning more than college-age athletes, because they spend the majority of these years growing and developing. Injuries can impact their growth and development. There is a possibility that it can even be stunted. This may prevent them from reaching that next level. SFX Athletes is designed to provide younger athletes a training system comparable to what college and professional athletes receive. We hope that athletes, especially female athletes, will train explosive with us using the SFX Athletes mobile app. Together we can help reduce incidences of injury nationwide!

Date: 02.03.2021



“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

Consistent actions and practices have many benefits.  We will discuss consistency as it pertains to training for improved athletic performance. One of the best ways to separate from others is to do what they are not willing to do and most are not willing to put in even the smallest amount of extra work whether it be during lifting, sprinting, practicing the sport or working on yoga, mobility and mindfulness.  The greatest athletes understand this concept – the 1% rule.  There are less than 1% of athletes that become professionals because there are less than 1% of athletes willing to go the extra 1% every single day in every single way.

The 1% rule applies to all athletes.  There is a saying about showing up being the hardest part, that’s not necessarily true.  Showing up is bare minimum.  If athletes have a hard time finding the motivation to simply show up, they should consider the idea that they may not be cut out for competitive sports and find another hobby. For athletes that show up consistently, they have proven they’re interested, which is good.  Athletes that want to be good will show up and do the work, typically take shortcuts whenever possible, and enjoy the experience of competing and time with friends.  This will work well for most and may even lead to some marginal success.

We’re interested in the ‘extra 1% every day type of athlete’ mindset, which is rare.  Tapping into this mindset is not easy and most would say “it’s too HARD.”  To build a hard mindset requires doing what’s hard – constantly reminding yourself of why the effort will pay off. Doing what it takes to go the extra 1% on everything no matter what is the 1% rule.

Date: 05.26.2021



“What I’ve learned is you just got to stay focused and believe in yourself and trust you own ability and judgement.” – Mark Cuban.

To place an image in our minds of what focus is we should think of a race horse with blinders on during the Kentucky Derby.  They’re really only able to see what’s ahead. Not able to see the other horses next to them, their jockey that’s on their back, or what time it is. Only on the road ahead.  During training, the jockey usually rewards the horse for moving in the right direction at the correct speed.

As athletes we are the race horse.  Of course there are others next to us competing with us and we usually have people in our corner or behind us pushing us in the ‘right’ directions. The only thing that matters is our level of focus on what we need to do to run our own race. Only we control our effort and our attention to what we need to work on to get better.

Date: 06.15.2021



These days, middle school and high school athletes sound busier then professional athletes. Practices, skill sessions, specialty training camps, trainers, coaches, games, travel teams, club teams, school teams, playing multiple sports at a time, all while trying to go to school… Then there are the pressures that come along with maintaining their instwittergrambookchats… In 2021, young athletes are at risk of overtraining and exhaustion more than ever before. Why? It mostly has to do with the youth sports culture of ‘more being better’. The reality is, more is not better, better is better.

How do we help high school athletes become the best athletes they can be? By remembering that they’re young humans in need of balance, support rather than excessive pressure to perform, and time off.

We support them while providing a consistent routine with built-in rest. It’s as simple as that. We do not overtrain them (going from practice to training session back to practice, then school and another training session after that). We do not have them competing all week and then all weekend – with no days off.

Kids need a life outside of sports. Parents and coaches need to understand this. As a coach, I have met many parents who have a solid understanding of what their child needs (days off, healthy food, support and balance). I have also met some that think the more their child is competing, the more exposure they’ll get and the more scholarship offers they’ll receive.

Reality is, to receive a college scholarship young athletes need to have a college-ready body and mind. Where does that begin?  School work, physical training, nutrition, and skills. Focusing on these four pillars of performance will do wonders for figuring out a solid routine.

Professional athletes take months off from their sport’s competitive season to recover, recharge, and train.

Written by: Sam Johnson

Date: 03.03.2021