5 Elite Habits Every Athletes Can Do Now (for free)

You have to do the work. You know this! There is no way of getting around it. Those who show up consistently come out on top.

But what if you are already putting in the work?

There comes a point where you simply can’t squeeze any more work into the week, and nor should you want to.

What you do away from training is completely up to you, and often separates the good from the great.

Sleep, rest, and recovery are vital parts of the routine for your body to regenerate and for the nervous system to lock down new skills and qualities.

The five invisible hacks of elite performance

This is all work done behind the scenes while no one is watching. Nothing sexy. Not very exciting. But they work.

Make these regulars in your routine and they will have a profound positive effect on your body and mind; boosting energy, increasing skill and focus, reduce soreness and cutting down your injury and illness risk allowing you to squeeze every last drop out of your training schedule.

They don’t cost much (if anything), you can do them basically anywhere, and they each take less than ten minutes to do.

Ignore these at your own peril.


The stats and science are pretty clear-cut here.

Get enough (8-9 hours a night) and you can expect to be stronger, fitter, faster, more focused, accurate and have a sharper reaction time. Skimp on the time between the sheets and look forward to more basic mistakes, more injuries, less muscle mass and more body fat.

We have talked about sleep heaps. That's because it matters so much.

If you told an athlete you had a treatment that would reduce the chemicals associated with stress, that would naturally increase human growth hormone, that enhances recovery rate, that improves performance, they would all do it.
Sleep does all those things.

- Casey Smith, Head Athletic Trainer, Dallas Mavericks

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Preventative maintenance

Prevention is a gazzilion times easier/better/more effective than treatment. While not every injury is avoidable there is plenty you can do on a daily and weekly basis to prevent and significantly reduce your risk of getting injured.

And it starts with a proper warm-up and cool-down.

There are plenty of fancy, exciting training ideas on Instagram and YouTube that get plenty of airtime, but the truth is for most athletes (elite, domestic, backyard legends) the fundamentals are key.

Regular (by regular we mean daily) foam rolling, stretching, trigger point work, glute, rotator cuff, and core activation is the smartest ten-minute spend you can make to your athletic future every day.

We find the best times are before and after training and competition, but while watching TV in the evening is also great.

Check out how we do our warm-up on YouTube


Stay hydrated

Water goes hand in hand with point #1, sleep.

Get enough and everything goes well, not enough and your blood thickens, brain function and decision making slows down, muscles get weaker and your heart and lungs have to work so much harder pumping oxygen.

What is not enough?  It only has to be 2% drop in hydration for as much as a 10% drop in performance!

For high-intensity, long duration sessions, or in hot conditions, sports drinks (electrolytes and sugar) might be of some use. Hot tip though: most sports drinks are too highly concentrated so are actually best diluted down to half strength.

Check out our blog here

This video we talk about the best pre-, during-, and post-exercise nutrition and hydration strategies


Eat protein

Protein isn’t just for bulging muscles. It plays a vital role in your immune system, hormone and neurotransmitter production, enzymes (the things in our body that do the stuff that makes us alive, digesting our food, giving muscles energy, repairing injuries etc).

On top of that protein is also part of your hair, skin, nails, tendons, ligaments and even your bones. In fact there is more protein in your bone than there is calcium!

As a ballpark figure, you should be eating a minimum of one gram of protein for every gram of body weight just to maintain fitness and performance (eg. 80g of protein for an 80kg person).

The harder you train, the more you are growing the more you should be eating! For muscle growth current recommendations are closer to ~2g per kg of bodyweight.

Bear in mind meat isn’t the only place you can find protein. Nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, dairy, eggs, soy (tofu), protein powder, are all great additions to meat in your diet.

Check out our article and video to learn about all things protein shakes, sources and why it's so awesome

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This is how many grams of protein is typically found per 100g of several common foods.


This might seem a little airy-fairy but stick with us on this one.

Elite athletes from virtually every sport are now using visualisation techniques to improve skills, calm nerves and perform better when it matters most.

Visualisation is the deliberate and controlled imagination of events or actions before they happen. Visualisation can be done anywhere, anytime and can involve sitting or lying in a quiet place alone or while miming sports actions.

Try doing 5 minutes of a "walk-through" of some key scenarios or skills you may have to execute in the upcoming competition or training session, but be sure to follow these key points when visualising:

Keep it positive

Visualise and 'feel' what a good outcome is like, the swish of the net, roar of the crowd, feeling of your foot/club/bat as it connects sweetly with the ball.

Quality matters

The more senses you can engage the better, let yourself be immersed in the experience, the closer it can come to a full body experience the better. The best visualisation should feel like a vivid, controlled dream sequence. Paint every detail inside your head, if that means you have to mime out the actions as well that's fine

Practice makes better

The more often you can practice visualisation the better, try and do 2-3 minutes of visualisation before every practice to improve your visualisation for when it matters most.

It can be tricky to draw up good visualisations at first but like everything in sport the more you practice the better you get and the more you can cash in on this clever mind trick.


There you have it. Five of the easiest things you can start doing right now, that take basically no time or effort to work into your routine. You may experience some instant improvements (if you are chronically dehydrated or sleep deprived for example) but more than likely the effects will slowly accumulate.

A few weeks to months from now though you will notice better focus, fitness, strength and reaction time, less soreness, illness, and injuries.