So lately, with the addition of this mentality forum, alot of new members or even veteran ones like myself have been asking questions because they're scared that certain factors would decrease performance. So I went out in to the library (yes, getting there was already a pain in the ass), and I found these two books, labelled Optimal Muscle Performance and Recovery
, by Edmond R. Burke, and The Sports Psych Handbook
, by Shane Murphy. The content in this book amazed me, and now I have found more information that can help you all out and stuff that could be realized on top of rzadzinski's already amazing mentality guide.
I'll split this guide into two parts, psychological and physiological, and this guide more than likely will be continued (because my information this time will only cover around 1/3 of each book). Note that it might be messy because I'm just pulling information out of the book and paraphrasing it.
Part I - The Mental Aspects
In rzadzinski's guide, he covered that improvements and reflection were important to your game. Although it's important that you win, making an 100% is more important, and so is using your skills to help your team. He also talked about the subconscious, how if you went into a certain state of mind, your brain would tap into creativity much more easily.
Intensity and Drive: The Foundation of Motivation
What is motivation? The change of the view of motivation in both sports psychology and cognitive psychology have changed drastically over the last century. Before, scientists thought that a human's motivation is solely limited to his/her needs, such as thirst, hunger and fatigue. They said, "We are essentially black boxes, what we put in is what we get out".
But, it was found that if a hockey player gets checked, he's more than likely to check back, it was found that humans are naturally aggressive, although it varies from gene to gene. In professional leagues, before "drafts" (from american sports), players are bombarded with psychological pressure, and their ability to deal with pressure represent a greater ability to deal with the challenges of a sport.
Also, another theory, known as the "reinforcement theory", found that if athletes were secure, knowing that victory or the end is imminent, they would gradually hold back, i.e. not going into the tackle, or not making runs when needed, because they feel "secure".
But in the modern world, the environment also gives alot of challenges for athletes to perform, namely the crowd (pressure), money and fame (temptations). In a study, when an old man found kids playing football in his garden, he not only let them play, but was going to offer them 1$ everytime they came and played. The children were excited, thinking that they can play footy for free and get money. However, somehow, by time, the children started coming less and less. They were saying that they were not being paid what they were worth.
What does this have to do with me?
When an athlete plays a sport or does something for pure enjoyment, excitement, competition, or will to learn, he is said to have intrinsic
motivation. But if the involvement is pulled away with trophies, awards, salaries, the need to be impressive to others, then the athlete is now extrinsically
involved. This applies to the example listed above with the old man and the children playing footy.
The downside to extrinsic motivation, is that it generates feelings of autonomy (selfishness, bossiness, being a show off and know-it-all, etc.), and competence (aloofness), and this leads to amotivation, the lowest point in an athlete's career, where he is no longer playing the sport for what it is, he's just waiting for recognition and achievement.
Although extrinsic motivation sounds like the opposite of what it's like to be a good athlete, it can actually be good. If an athlete loses the drive to do what he wants, ex. training in uncomfortable situations, and he needs new motivation, he can get it through artificial incentives, such as competing with others. A study shows that cyclists who bike in pairs will more than likely always cycle faster than when alone. Knowing this, you could try to use extrinsic motivation to your advantage.
Self-Efficacy and Goal Orientation
A regular person will have the will to compete in an activity if he/she feels they can succeed at it, and this contributes to the effort they place in the activity. Self-Efficacy is the ability to perform a task or activity, in 3 aspects: a) at a high level or competition, b) with confidence, c) repeatedly and efficiently. This pertains to motivation, as it helps athletes try harder, climb bigger obstacles, think more positively, and feel less nervous in bigger situations.
In order for an athlete to be successful, he/she must constantly be challenged in order to increase self-efficacy levels, so that the activity continues to stay meaningful for the athlete, and he/she feels purposeful for doing it. However, from different athletes, feelings of purpose are developed and maintained in different ways. Take this example: A girl who was playing basketball in a top program in high school, as one of the key stars, and was even being watched by scouts from WNBA. She trained hard throughout the off-season with a trainer to improve her physique, but yet right at the beginning of the season, she lost interest, and eventually dropped out. Why? Apparently the coach decided to select another player, one not as skilled but more favoured on the team, and the girl did not like that. In this example, we can see that for the girl, the feeling of purpose of playing the sport was through leadership, not her abilities. Like her, we all have to find our own purpose of playing the sport, and the “What Drives You?” topic in the mentality forum can give you (some) good examples of motivation.
http://www.expertfootball.com/forum/vie ... php?t=7688
Knowing this, we can separate goal orientation into two separate categories, task-mastery orientation and ego orientation
. These two are similar to the 2 different forms of motivation (extrinsic and intrinsic) explained earlier.
Athletes who take pride in their own personal achievement and progress, in relative to their previous performances are known to have task-mastery orientation. What this means is that they really feel happy when they achieve this or surpass his/her own limits with improvement. These are usually athletes who can view a loss as a victory, if he/she sees that they performed well and gained valuable experience. Likewise, they are very (sometimes overly) concerned with their growth and makes sure to put 100% effort into what he/she does in order to satisfy his/herself. Task orientation, is usually developed by personality through nurturing from parents/coaches. If an athlete, in his childhood, is constantly receiving praise of his efforts, or recognition for his abilities, he will more likely develop a task-oriented mindset.
Likewise, “Ego” orientation (like how ego refers to oneself), is more focused on their performance in relative to others. They are the ones who want to shine over everybody else, and winning is very crucial to them, as losing will destroy self-esteem, and make the athlete lose motivation. This type of goal orientation is very dominant in our society, because the world we live in relies on social comparison in order to become better. Whether it sports, music, education, or even fashion, people are always competing with one another in order to feel supreme. Environment is also a strong factor in how an ego-oriented athlete competes; he/she can feel easily threatened or supported by crowds, situations (such as the last place team facing the first place team, or even vice versa). In the earlier situation, the girl was subjected to the pressure of not receiving the recognition of being the best, and felt threatened by the competition of another captain, so she lost motivation, and ultimately felt incompetent and quit. Also, ego-oriented athletes, if underperforming or losing, will “hold back”, or feign an excuse in order to him/her feel better about losing, or to convince everybody that the athlete was not at fault for the loss. This form of orientation is developed if a child is subjected to criticism and non-selection unless he/she succeeds, the athlete learns that only ability, not effort, will help them succeed.
Although you might think, “Oh no, I’m ego-oriented/task oriented! What should I do?”, nobody can actually be polar-ego or polar-task oriented. I’m sure everybody has a mix of both, no matter how slight it is. However, although their values are different, if both forms of orientation are balanced equally, an athlete is able to define when to compare with other athletes, to focus on self-improvement, to be able to exert effort while still maintaining a high level of self-efficacy, and ultimately, being able to enter flow
Flow is the state of consciousness in which movements are effortless, vision is clarified, objects are non-distorted, time seems to slow down, and a feeling of lost-self. In rzadzinski’s guide, it’s where the humans are emitting the “alpha waves”, or in popular society, being “in the zone”. The best athletes are able to tap into the state of flow relatively easily. Essentially, flow is most easily found when there is a 1:1 ratio between challenge (of the activity) and personal ability. If there is more ability than challenge, then the state of boredom develops, and not enough adrenaline is given in order for flow to occur. For the opposite (challenge>ability), feeling of anxiety hits, where the mind freezes and the person feels nervous, and the athlete isn’t focused enough to get into the state of flow.
When you’re on a strong team, and you’re about to face a weak team, the biggest mistake to make is to say, “Oh, this team sucks. We’ll own them”. This is also the biggest mistake coaches can make, as it forms a mindset in the athlete to hold back, and they will not be able to perform at a certain level. Same for the opposite. Let’s say an NHL team was going into the playoffs, they would be psyched (the correct level of motivation). If a rookie was somehow called-up into the team just before the playoffs started, he might get anxious, feeling that the task might be too hard and he has “no hope”, and he won’t be able to give his all in the game and may even try to get out of the challenge.
In order to allow 100% motivation and the chance of flow to occur, the following criteria should be met:
1) Balance challenges with skills
2) Perform in the present (there is no before or after in sports)
3) Concentrate on a small, specific target (such as getting the assist, marking the speedy winger well, etc.)
4) Concentrate only on the aspects of performance that are controllable (first touch, passing, technical skills, etc.)
5) Have a well thought-out game plan so that decision making during performance is easier.
6) Eliminate in-game evaluation and self-judgement (focus on the game!)
7) Enjoy the rhythm and feel of performance rather than focusing on the technical aspects of a particular sport.
Have fun! (love the game)
Remember that motivation begins with a sense of purpose, whether it be for personal achievement, experience, competition, or just for pure enjoyment! That is the first step to success for the mentality aspect.
Part II: The Physiological Aspect
Okay, well there hasn’t been any real physiological guides (atleast on what I’m gonna cover), so I’ll just cover the basics that everyone should know by now. Muscles take up around 40-45 percent of an average man’s body (30-35 for a women’s). Your body contains about 650 muscles, however 620 of them are known as skeletal muscles because they are held to the bones of your body through tendons. The skeletal muscles are basically voluntary muscles because you can contract them at will. The other muscles are called smooth muscle because they cover around the important organs in your body, ex. the heart (cardiac muscle), stomach, intestines, bladder, and blood vessels. Because you cannot control the movements of these muscles, they are involuntary. No matter what you do with a muscle, it cannot expand at will, it will only contract.
Fast-twitch and Slow-twitch muscles
Skeletal muscles split further into two different categories, slow twitch (Type I muscle fibers), and fast twitch (type II muscle fibers). Slow twitch muscles are known to be enduring, and therefore they are important in high-endurance activities. Fast-twitch muscles, are the contrary. Everybody has both of these types of muscle fibers in their body, but it can vary, and it can be to the point where an athlete has 80% one type and only 20% another. Slow-twitch muscles use oxygen steadily in long endurance activities (hence aerobic exercise), and fast-twitch muscles the opposite (without air, anaerobic).
Energy Sources of Muscles
The body requires macronutrients daily in large sums in order to grow and repair itself. These nutrients include carbohydrates, fat, and protein. The most important, water, does not supply calories or energy in itself. However, it helps with all functions of the body and therefore is most important.
This form of energy is most abundant and ready in your body. Carbohydrates are converted to glucose in your body. Glucose can be stored in your liver and muscle tissue as glycogen (very important remember this)
. During exercise, glycogen is used as energy. Glycogen is depleted quickly in anaerobic exercise, and is more conservative in aerobic exercise. Carbs are very important for growth and repair, and the feeling of overtraining is due to not consuming enough carbohydrates. The carbohydrate storage of a physically active 150 lb man is about 2000 calories. In this, 1600 are stored in muscle as glycogen, 320 are stored in the liver also as glycogen, and 80 is stored in blood as glucose. This supply would only last around 2 hours in high-intensity exercise.
*Interesting fact: glucose is the only form of energy your brain can burn*
Although fat is the body’s most concentrated source of energy (it can fuel hours of exercise without depleting), most of it is stored in fatty tissues and is unusable. Fat molecules must be broken down into fatty acids, then transported to your muscle. Of course, in order to burn fat, it takes consistent, low-intensity training because fat can only burned down for use only in low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise. A thin endurance athlete has more than 40000 calories of fat in their body.
The essential element of growth. As many know, protein is actually unusable; it is the amino acids in it that counts. There are 20 amino acids, and 11 are actually produced by your body (therefore you only need the other 9). In order to build/repair muscle, all 20 have to be present. In long-term endurance exercise, the body will actually begin using protein (it takes up about 15% of the energy used). This is not good, as protein is needed after exercise to restore muscle breakdown.
Fitness and its advantage
Simply put, if your body is in good shape, it becomes more efficient in producing energy at the same level of intensity. After training for months, your body will be more efficient at using fat (meaning less glycogen use) for exercise.
This is the same for lactic acid (or lactic buildup). Untrained athletes will start accumulating lactic acid in their bodies in exercise that uses around 60-70% of maximum aerobic capacity. For highly trained athletes however, it’ll take 80-85% for lactic acid to start building up.
*Lactic Acid for Dummies: Lactic Acid is that burning feeling you get when you are training at high intensity. It sets in because the body is moving and working at a pace that is faster than the rate that oxygen reaches a specific muscle part, and lactic acid sets in. When an athlete is no longer able to continue because of the intolerable amount of lactic acid in their body, that is known as the lactic threshold, or the limit of your body to withstand lactic buildup. Despite what is said about lactic acid being trapped in your body in resulting muscle fatigue, lactic acid is removed from your body after 60 minutes of rest, or less with light aerobic activity which allows blood to flow*
Everyone knows what it’s like to have an off-day. But what affects how you can prevent these off-days? Muscle fatigue is caused by numerous factors, the most dominant of which is dehydration and carbohydrate depletion. We already covered carbohydrates and the importance of it, so dehydration is the next factor.
As was explained earlier, water is a macronutrient that helps your organs function properly. In exercise, the body will slowly heat up, and cardiovascular function is continually slowed which the body is heated. In order to counter the rising of the body temperature, sweat is released, and it is used to cool the body off. However, sweat is part water, and for the cardiovascular system, which is 70% water, dehydration is a dangerous factor. If you do not replenish the water missing from the system, you can suffer from dehydration, or overheating after your body can no longer emit sweat. That’s why water is important for your body.
Water vs. Sports drinks
Okay, here’s the main theme of my physiological aspect of the guide, sports drinks.
Although it was just mentioned that water replenishes your body and moderates the temperature, the release of sweat (in regular exercise) will cause slight dehydration, about 2% of your bodyweight, and every percent of your body is important in performance. Water is acceptable for short exercise, where sweat is less commonly emitted, but in long exercise, dehydration will slowly overtake the usefulness of water, and another solution is found.
In long-term exercise, muscle glycogen depletion is one reason why the body fatigues. Once muscle glycogen is burned, amino acids and fatty acids are burned as an extra source of energy. With this factor, the body’s endurance and performance significantly
drops, and over time, more and more protein is used to provide energy.
To counter this, a better solution was needed to be found. Your body needs electrolytes (elements that are needed to help with your body’s performance and is lost through sweat), and these are only found in sports drinks (the main ones being glucose and sodium chloride).
In an example, a cyclist was training in 90 degree Fahrenheit heat. His goal was to ride 65 miles, in preparation for a 100 mile race coming up in a week. During the ride, he drank a lot of water, but with only a little bit of sports drink. For the first 40 miles he felt good, but in the last 25, he suddenly started riding very slowly and began to vomit. He suffered from a fatal condition known as hyponatremia, where blood sodium levels are dangerously low. Even though he was a steady sweater and he had been training for weeks, water didn’t save him and he almost died. This further proves the importance of the need of sodium in high intensity, long, or heated conditions.
During sports, as mentioned, the average athlete loses from 2-4% of their body mass due to sweat loss. Right after exercise, the recommended re-hydration rate is about 80% of the sweat lost. Water is not sufficient for this, because glucose is necessary for recovery, so a sports drink with about 15 mg of sodium/oz and 15 mg of potassium/oz is best. For the best performance, drink several ounces of a sports drink every 15 mins or so. As for carbohydrates, the greatest performance is found when 60-80 grams of carbohydrates are consumed per hour of intense exercise.
Another recent study has found that sports drinks injected with protein have also helped. A hormone, insulin
, which is released by the pancreas, is needed to transport excess glucose to muscles, and over the years, it has been found that insulin is one of the most important agents of energy production in sports. By using protein in combination of a sports drink (which has carbohydrates in it), it has been found that it stimulates the insulin response better than purely carbohydrates. However, too much protein will have a negative effect on the insulin output, so scientists have found that the ideal ratio between carbohydrates and protein intake is 4:1 or less (anything more than 4:1 ratio, such as 4:2 or 4:3, will be bad for insulin).
In order to make the most out of your body’s recovery, steps and measures have to be taken.
Rapid Phase (First 1 hour):
This is the time when your body moves out of its metabolic state and begins to return to pre-exercise levels. Hormones sent from blood (such as cortisol or testosterone), will slowly decrease. In this period, your body will also remove excess lactic acid. If you want to continue exercising, exercising at 40-60% of your maximum output will keep your blood circulating at exercising rates. In this hour, the insulin response is the greatest, therefore you want to consume as much glucose as you can (not fructose, another byproduct of sugar). Foods, such as bagels, baked potatoes, corn flakes, bread, crackers, honey, maple syrup, white rice, soda (yes, that’s right, soda can actually be useful in recovery because of its high sugar content), and sports drinks are very high in glucose and therefore will be useful in insulin response.
Intermediate Phase (1-4 Hours after exercise):
This is the point where your body starts to replenish fluids and rehydrate. At this point, glycogen is still very important for insulin because it is still at its highest rate (it starts to decrease approximately 2 hours after exercise completion). At this point, you should try to consume another meal or sports drink, keeping in mind the 4 to 1 ratio between carbs and protein. The calorie distribution should be: 60-65% carbohydrates, 20-25% fat, and 10-20% protein.
Longer Phase (5-24 hours after exercise):
This is where your muscles mostly repair themselves. Rest is very important in this point in time. Carbohydrate replenishment is still going, but is now at a slowed rate. During this time, you should eat around 3-5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. However, avoid glucose-high foods because the insulin response is no longer high, and only eat complex carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, and veggies.
Fatigue and the use of muscle creams
After intense exercise, the worst form of delayed muscle soreness (which takes about 24-48 hours to set in), is caused by oxidation (or free radicals). This process causes oxidation stress, which is caused due to the free radicals attacking a certain fat (pholipids) in the muscle cell membranes, as well as mitochondria (which provide energy to muscles). Prolonged exercise can cause even more free radicals to spread through the body, and leaves your muscles more vulnerable to muscle damage.
To relieve this, antioxidants have been found. Your body already produces some antioxidants, but usually not enough after high intensity exercise. Other antioxidants are found in vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium. Of these, vitamin C and vitamin E are especially important for athletes.
During muscle recovery from soreness, a lot of athletes like to use muscle cream in order to help relieve soreness. The muscle cream works because it usually applies heat to the area applied (or coolness depending on which), and is really effective in dulling the muscle for recovery. However, too much of it isn’t good for the muscle, as it completely halts
the process of muscle synthesis. Therefore, do not use the muscle cream in the first 24 hours of muscle synthesis, and only use as prescribed.
Prevention of Muscle Cramps
We’ve all had muscle cramps, and we know the pain it causes. It is usually caused due to dehydration (water loss -> blood volume lowers -> less blood going to muscle -> less oxygen -> cramp/spasm). To get rid of cramps, the best method is to gently stretch the muscle as much as possible. Gentle massaging is also a good method. If you are someone who constantly gets cramps at night during sleep, stretch before sleeping. If cramps persist, consult a doctor.
To prevent cramps, nutrition is the obvious solution. The first precaution, is to hydrate yourself enough to prevent loss of blood flow. Magnesium, one of the important electrolytes discussed, is critical in triggering muscle relaxation. Vitamin E is also very efficient in relaxing stressed muscles. During seasonal changes or sudden climate changes, cut back on your exercise to allow your muscles to adapt.
Remember, during sports, hydrating and recovering from sweat loss is important in performance. Don’t wait till you’re thirsty, by that time you’ll already by 2-3% dehydrated! That’s the first step to maximizing yourself physically.
Our favourite portion of every guide.
Why did you make this?
Well, as I said, even though I hate going to the library, these two books really intrigued me and inspired me to waste a whole day’s time in writing this.
(from Hugh) You said there’d be chocolate?!
Yup. It’s on its way now. Belgian chocolate too. Mmmmm.
In terms of mentality and physically, which one do you think is more important?
Well, in an athlete its important to have a strong mindset, and physically he has to be able to compete well. This guide is encouraging ways to help them stay on top of their game.
Are you going to keep going since you said it’s only about 1/3 of the book?
Maybe, but that was really tiring and I have to get off my lazy ass. I think I’m gonna go out for footy first.
Well, that’s about it. Thanks for reading (you’re nuts if you read the whole thing), I’m not gonna bother doing that. I spent way too much time on this anyways.
Mods: Please place this in the featured articles section. I'm too lazy
EDIT: Just cuz I can't believe I actually did this, to rzad: HAH!