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PEAK PERFORMANCE: What it takes to be at the top of your game.

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Coaches and athletes aim to improve sports performance. But what factors influence performance? In most #sports, performance has many dimensions. For example, a baseball player must be able to hit, field, throw, and run the bases. But why can some athletes run faster, throw harder, and play better than others?

Peak performance is complex and a culmination of several factors including age and experience, genetics, training, coaching, health status, the physiology of the athlete, mindset of the athlete, how the athlete performs the skill and moves (biomechanics), equipment, etc. There are some aspects of this model that can be controlled by the athlete or modified with training and other things that cannot be controlled (i.e genetics, age, weather).

It is important to note that this model involves a multi-disciplinary, integrated approach when training and caring for the athlete. Too often, the main focus is on training or strength and conditioning. And even within training, sometimes one aspect (strength training) receives more attention than another (speed, agility, joint stability, mobility, etc.).

Within strength training alone, we often do not consider training unilaterally (single arm or leg) and bilaterally (both limbs) with the lower and upper body, pushing and pulling vertically and horizontally, strengthening, and stabilizing the core, and also rotating or twisting.

During periods of intense training and/or competition, if we do not give proper attention to recovery, sleep, and nutrition, then we will not realize optimal gains from training or peak performance. This is too often the case.

Likewise, if we prepare ourselves physically (#skilldevelopment, training, recovery, and #nutrition) but do not have good mental skills (focus, positive self-talk, etc.), we also will not realize peak performance.

Thus, we need to ‘put it all together’ (athletic health, skill development, physical training, recovery, nutrition, and mental skills) and have all the pieces of the puzzle fitting perfectly. If one piece is not fitting well, then peak performance and health will not be realized.


Dr. Joe Eisenmenn, Ph.D. is a professor of pediatric exercise medicine within the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Director of Spartan Performance.

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