Avoiding mid-performance crises
How to play sports and avoid muscle cramps is the question on every athlete’s and coach’s mind.
Athletes love to perform in sports. They love the activity, camaraderie (in most cases), competitive spirit, and the personal challenges. But mostly they just want to be in the game, playing the sport that they love.
However, athletic bodies, like finely tuned pianos and high-strung thoroughbreds, are subject to unexpected breakdowns, the worst of which are the always painful and distracting. The message is: avoid muscle cramps. (Muscle cramps and the remedies for them were discussed in last week’s blog post.)
Another kind of athletic distraction
Pushing inner limits builds character, say some coaches, but at least half of all coaches believe the opposite: that character pushes inner limits. If the coaching camp is divided on the subject, athletes also weigh in with their own individual opinions:
“Over the years, I have pushed myself mentally and I have pushed myself physically. A lot of people say, ‘John Havlicek never gets tired.’ Well, I get tired. It’s just a matter of pushing myself. I say to myself, ‘he’s as tired as I am; who’s going to win this mental battle? It’s just a matter of mental toughness. – John Havlicek, basketball Hall-of-Famer“The difference between the possible and the impossible lies in the man’s determination.” — long-time winning manager of the LA Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda“There is no doubt that man is a competitive animal and there is no place where this fact is more obvious than in the ring. There is no second place. Either you win or you lose. When they call you a champion, it’s because you don’t lose. To win takes a complete commitment of mind and body.”
— Rocky Marciano, undefeated boxing heavyweight
Right and Wrong
All three sides are right and wrong. Yes, commitment pushes an athlete to perform better because he will train longer and better of his/her own determinism; and yes, there are bodily limits that eventually force retirements from sports, but these vary from person to person. But unexpected events can take down even the most excellent of athletes at any given moment. If you’ve had them, you’ll know you want to avoid muscle cramps! The struggle in sports, then, is to maintain a winning attitude and avoid muscle cramps by maintaining good body-health balance, and not to go overboard on either character, attitude or body health. Fortunately, all three can be built up together.
A wholistic approach to not only game-time performance, but also to care of the instrument (body) used to perform in those games, merits both an athlete’s and a coach’s best application of methods to avoid muscle cramps. A unified marriage and balance of these three elements can sustain even the toughest of athletic assignments in almost any physical environment and conditions.
“Winning is the science of being totally prepared.”
— George Allen, third winningest NFL football coach percentage (.681), behind Vince Lombardi (.736) and John Madden (.731)
How to play sports and avoid muscle cramps
To the point of how to play sports and avoid muscle cramps, making sure athletes take in enough water hydration and minerals is of vital importance. Even the best players, lacking these elements, will sooner or later sacrifice playing time for a case of muscle cramps, which in the balance of a game could be the difference between losing and winning on any given day.
The athlete’s health in the critical last minutes or seconds of a performance, the last innings of a baseball game, the last laps of a marathon or pool medley, or the last quarter of a football contest will make or break their hopes and dreams.
Plenty of water and minerals are two of the answers to the question of how to play sports and avoid muscle cramps — a painful experience that is so easily avoided!