When it comes to being the best at your sport, it’s not just about being the strongest, or the fastest, or having the most talent. History’s best athletes have mastered their craft in six areas, ranging from physical skills and recovery to mental fortitude and in-game tactics. Nationally recognized sports performance consultant Scot Prohaska has developed a training program based on these six areas, helping young athletes become better than ever. These are Scot’s 6 Lanes of Preparation.
1. Psychological: Handling The Stress
Sports are intense, and the pressure is ALWAYS on. Scot works with athletes to make sure they’re self-motivated, because when you’re focused on overcoming obstacles and staying positive, reaching your goals becomes a more enjoyable task. “We’ve all seen physical freaks who were fast and explosive but who couldn’t handle the pressures of a season,” Scot said. “If you look at most high school sports, 70 percent is training, weightlifting, or practicing. So, you better learn to enjoy your sport and the practice of it. If an athlete is struggling with the practice part of it, then we need to get support for that athlete.” Loving what you do and learning to use everyday pressures as motivation will be key factors to your athletic success.
2. Sensory Motor: The Pinnacle Of Self-Awareness
This is something only the true greats have achieved — when your brain just knows to tell your body when to accelerate, slow down, or shoot based on instinct. “That’s when you see the Gretzkys and Jordans,” Scot said. “When they just feel something, they shift, they move. And that takes practice. That is just an awareness of your body, awareness of timing. The more you practice, the more you will get comfortable with your sport and with the timing of it.” This is not an easy lane to master, but if you practice enough and play enough, it will come.
3. Tactical: Becoming A Student Of The Game
Sure, sports are mainly physical activities, but the mental aspect is often underrated. Knowing the tactics, the ins and outs of the game, and the schemes is invaluable. It doesn’t necessarily show in the gym, but it can make all the difference on game day. “You have to work with your coaches and understand their schemes and master them,” Scot said. “You have to understand what your coach wants to execute. That’s a very important lane to grade yourself in.”
4. Technical: Your Actual Skill Set
If you don’t work on the skills to perform your sport, you can’t be successful. You need to develop the right throwing motion, the right swing, the right form. Sometimes it’s easier to do what’s natural (like leaving your elbow out when you shoot a basketball), but in the long run, you’ll be glad you perfected this lane. But Scot warns athletes not to focus on this lane more than the other five. “We have to be careful with this lane because in coaching and practice, you’re working a lot on tactical and technical skills, and you have to master them, but you can’t work too much on that.”
5. Physical: Mastering Your Muscles
When it comes to training, this is a highly important lane for athletes. Being physically strong and fast is critical in sports today, but this lane involves much more than lifting weights and running sprints. “There are three components of the physical lane,” Scot said. “There’s the central nervous system, which is body awareness and your brain telling your muscles to fire explosively. Next is the neuromuscular. How much force can I generate? How forceful are my muscles? How healthy are my muscles? And then the fuel — the metabolic system. Can I sustain that power over time? Do I have the right nutrients? Have I trained my system to be able to repeat that power over and over and over until the game is done?”
6. Physiotherapeutic: Recovering The Right Way
This is another undervalued lane. High school athletes are young, so their bodies naturally recover quickly after workouts and injuries, but the athletes who make it to the pros are the ones who understand the importance of recovery early. Recovering correctly not only makes you feel better, it makes you stronger. These are some questions Scot suggests you ask yourself for this lane: “How am I recovering from workouts? How am I recovering from injuries? Am I taking care of my tissues? Am I stretching? Eating properly for recovery? And when I am injured, do I have a team of people that can get me back on the court as fast as possible?”
As you can see, there are a lot of areas to master before you can truly become an elite athlete. It’s not easy, but when you use Scot’s 6 Lanes of Preparation to challenge and improve every aspect of your game, the results will be worth the effort. “We all know the game’s changing,” Scot said. “Everybody’s faster, everybody’s bigger, everybody’s stronger. It’s now known through human performance that training year-round is really healthy for you. It really does give you an advantage, especially if you have a plan. Get a plan, use the 6 Lanes, and go for it.”