One of the most overlooked aspects of fitness, sports, etc. is the relationship between stress and performance. The stress I’m talking about is the stress caused by factors outside of the gym and off of the field. “Life factors.” So many athletes and coaches continue to underestimate this relationship.
What are life factors outside of the sport itself? Sleep, relationships, finances, career, etc. Sleep alone is probably the most important factor in recovery, and yet tons of athletes still operate with the “sleep is for losers” mentality. Be more productive with your time, and also realize that at a certain point more work is not only useless, but also harmful.
One of the biggest sources of stress in people’s lives is relationships. If your BIGGEST goal in life is to win at your sport, then you should either fix your relationship problems or end the relationship. If your biggest goal is to be a good husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend, then maybe you should spend more time working on and building that than you do in the gym or on the field. That will put you in line with your principal values, as well as creating a more stress free environment for you. That environment will also, in turn, increase your performance in your sport. Win, win.
The “stress-free” environment is a very broad concept. Two of the most important aspects of it are your hormone levels and brain activity. In short, we want to create an internal environment where there exists more anabolic “building” hormones than catabolic “destroying” hormones. Both are necessary in life, but we want to minimize the amount of time that catabolic hormones are circulating our bloodstreams. As far as brain activity goes, if you are focused on how to mend your relationship with your girlfriend or how you’re going to pay rent, how can you focus on your training? Minimize these negative life factors and you will see huge positive effects on your performance.