As UK Sport has become more successful, some of the research and habits behind our elite athletes emerges in the public domain. Team GB has enjoyed increasingly successful Olympic Games performances during the last two Olympiads. Not many countries are able to improve upon a the medal haul of a home Olympics. Team GB did just that in Rio 2016, following on from their success in London 2012. As a nation rejoices in their success and marvels at the feats of our Olympians, we learn of the sacrifices that it takes to become a world beater. Several authors used this information to write great books on how to achieve personal and professional excellence by using the habits of our elites athletes. The fine margins of elite sport require absolute attention to detail. However, in our latest blog we also highlight the need not to lose sight of the forest because you’re spending too much time looking at the trees!
It’s all about the 1% margins
Ah this famous 1% quote. This was popularised by the highly successful Team SKY cycling team. Their viewpoint was focus on 1% improvements across a number of training and performance parameters. Adding up these small percentage gains would lead to a significant percentage gain in overall competition performance. For example, coaches would use the mattresses, pillows and bedding from an athletes home and place it in hotel rooms to improve the quality of an athletes nights sleep. On tours, staff would arrive early at a hotel to set up each athletes room to mimic their home environment as much as possible. Having slightly better sleep each evening would mean better recovery. In turn, this leads to improved race potential. In the sport of fitness, you will often hear athletes speaking of the 1% improvements. Focusing on the minutia of a movement in search of an edge.
Such attention to detail is necessary at the highest levels of sport. After all, it may be the athletes profession. To expect them to take care of known performance habits is reasonable. But what does this mean for the many layers of athletes below the elite? Do we all need to be focussing on the 1% performance margins?
Low Hanging Fruit and Big Wins
Not many people are fortunate enough for sport to be their job. Therefore, for most it’s a hobby and / or lifestyle choice / habit. Focussing upon all of the many 1% margins can actually be detrimental at times. This is because it takes a lot of energy and effort. If taking care of the 1% details distracts an athlete from their main training then performance is at risk of deteriorating. At the end of the day, footballers need to be playing football. Runners need to running. Swimmers need to be swimming. The bulk of time and energy for these athletes needs to be spent on their main activity in order to improve. Accessory training and the 1% margins are nice to be able to add into a schedule but not at the expense of more productive and relevant training.
Athletes still need to get their training basics right. Think of training as a broken cookie on the floor. In order to get the most return on your time, select the biggest pieces first, before chasing any crumbs that are left!!