5 Reasons Why Your Hard Work Isn't Making You a Better Athlete

Working your butt off in the gym with no payoff on the field? You could be making one or more of these mistakes.

If you're an athlete, nothing is more frustrating than putting in the work off the field only to come up short when it matters during competition. You asked your coach how to get better, and he or she told you all you have to do is work hard. You bust your butt, but you still don't seem to play any better. So what gives? Here are five reasons why your training might not be translating to success in your sport.

1. Your Goals Aren't Specific

Setting goals is important, but reaching a goal that doesn't help you in your sport is worthless. The simple goal to "get better" in the off-season will not actually help you get better.

Goals should be measurable, written down and put in a place where you see them every day. For a basketball player, a goal of making 100 jumpers a day is measurable and can lead to actual improvement. Setting a goal such as "to squat 300 pounds by Nov. 1" is much better than simply aiming to "squat more." Measurable, numerical goals keep you motivated. Achieving them is more gratifying.

2. You're on The Wrong Workout Plan

Most popular and trendy workouts are not suitable for athletes. They're for couch potatoes who want to lose weight or get a beach body. The key to creating a workout that translates to athletic success is to seek advice from a respected certified strength coach or trainer. He or she will know the skills you need to be successful in your sport, and can give you a plan to improve them. Do baseball players need to work on their vertical jump as much as volleyball players? Of course not. Get together with a trusted coach or trainer, or check out STACK's sport-specific workouts, to make sure your training is appropriate for your sport.

3. Your Form is Robbing You of Success

You can train hard for hours, but if you don't use correct form, you won't play better. Poor form also risks injury, which could leave you on the bench and in the training room instead of on the field or court showing your skills.

Success in sports depends not on the number of hours you work out or how much weight you lift, but on training with the right form. STACK offers numerous videos and articles on form, from sprinting to performing the Power Snatch. If your school has a strength and conditioning coach, ask him or her to check out your form.

4. You Play Only One Sport

Specializing in one sport seems to make sense. If you are better at football than baseball, why not focus on it year-round and pursue a scholarship? However, if you play only one sport you could be at a higher risk of injury than if you played multiple sports. Playing and training for only one sport constantly stresses the same muscles and can wear you down.

Multiple sport athletes are also more attractive to college coaches during recruiting.

5. You're Whiffing on Sleep and Nutrition

You could be doing everything right when it comes to training and practicing, but if you don't approach nutrition and sleep with the same care and attention, you won't be successful. Eating right ensures your training won't go to waste, and sleeping the right way has positive effects on athletic performance.

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