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It's natural to focus on what you're good at. For example, if you are gifted on the field but weak in the weight room, you will probably put more effort into your practices than your training sessions. But this tendency can become a serious problem for young developing athletes.
There are three essential pillars of performance:
- Sport-specific skill development
- Strength and conditioning
- Diet and nutrition
Each pillar is critical on its own, but what's even more important is how they impact each other.
- Skill development and strength training require adequate fuel. If your diet is lacking, you won't be able to practice at max speed or reap the full benefits of a workout. (Learn more about proper nutrition.)
- The goal of strength and conditioning is to help you reach your full athletic potential. (Check out STACK's fitness section.) If you neglect this pillar, it won't matter if you are the most gifted athlete on the planet. If you don't work on improving your strength and speed, then the athletes who do put the work in will quickly surpass you.
- Lacking fundamental skills of the game will make the previous two points irrelevant. It doesn't matter how strong or fast you are if you can't catch a ball or shoot a basket.
The moral of the story? You cannot neglect any of the performance pillars. If you do, you will put yourself at a serious disadvantage against your competition. When you're trying to make it to the next level, you have to realize that going half-speed during a workout or sucking down some fried chicken can have huge consequences.