What’s holding you back?

A couple of recent conversations with athletes have made me think about writing this article to put my thoughts down in writing and seeing as it’s New Year’s Resolution time I thought it might fit in well.

One of the things that I believe sets great champions in any sport apart from the rest of the competitors is that they consistently give the best performance that they are capable of on any given day. They may not be feeling 100%, they may not have had the best preparation for the event for whatever reason but they put that to one side and do everything that they can to get a result! How do they manage to do this? In my opinion it’s because they have done everything that they can to make sure that every other aspect of their performance is as good as it can be!

Chris Hoy-with 6 Olympic and 11 World Championship Gold medals is he Britain's most consistent performer?

Chris Hoy-with 6 Olympic and 11 World Championship Gold medals is he Britain’s most consistent performer?

Almost every athlete that I talk to worries about their physical preparation-some worry about not training enough, most worry about getting the right warm up in place to help make sure they are ready on the start line of their event and a few even worry that they have trained too much. However, despite all of the publicity about Teams Sky and GB cycling team and their marginal gains approach, not many think very much about the myriad other parts of the “performance jigsaw”. Preparation of equipment, nutrition, quality of recovery and sleep in the week (or weeks) before a race, dealing with any stresses from your life outside of cycling, pre-riding a course, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents and using that assessment to work out how you can perform best against them* as well as hundreds of other things can have a huge impact on your performances!

Dave Brailsford-father of the "aggregation of marginal gains"

Dave Brailsford-father of the “aggregation of marginal gains”

In my opinion, this focus on every aspect of your performance is a crucial part of the “athlete package.” As standards rise in sport it’s no longer good enough to be the fittest, strongest and most technically able in your sport because there will be someone else (or maybe several others) who are very nearly as good as you in all of those areas. If you want to be the best, you have to be the best prepared as well!

Thinking about cycling specifically, we have all heard stories of riders turning up at a race and realising that they have forgotten their shoes/helmet/shorts. I even know of one rider who left for the race and realised half an hour or so later that he hadn’t put his bike in the car-Even great champions can’t win without a bike! These are pretty obvious examples but once athletes are performing at or near their best the smaller things become just as important as the winning margin is often 1% or less so have a think about what you can work on, other than your fitness, to make sure that you achieve your goals in 2015!

GB Team pursuit squad work on every aspect of performance no matter how small

GB Team pursuit squad work on every aspect of performance no matter how small

*Of course this means making an honest, realistic appraisal of your own strengths and weaknesses which can be trickier than it sounds.