Coaches, athletes, and parents need to know which athletic items are essential to consistent training and performance. While sport-specific equipment can get expensive, these 10 essentials will help athletes succeed without breaking the bank.
1. The Perfect Water Bottle
Staying hydrated has everything to do with whether you carry a water bottle around all day or not. Athletes should choose a water bottle that fits their needs: a) easy to drink quickly from during workout, b) won’t spill on electronics if carrying it throughout the day, and c) durable if it gets tossed around everywhere.
2. Foam Roller
Save the money you would have spent on a sports massage and give yourself one instead. Foam rollers run about $25, and if you purchase a travel-sized one you can carry it with you to competitions everywhere. Self-myofascial release is the process of applying pressure using your own bodyweight against the roller to release tight spots and lengthen muscle tissue. Foam rolling aids in injury prevention and is a key precursor to a dynamic warm up.
3. Tennis Ball
The more intense counterpart to the foam roller, the tennis ball, is a simple hack for rolling out tight areas of the body. All athletes develop tightness under the shoulder blade, in the lats, or along other hard-to-reach places at some point in their training. Tennis balls are even more portable for travel purposes.
4. Compression Gear
While some athletes wear compression gear during competition, such as football and basketball players, or even swimmers in compression race suits, compression garments are primarily useful in the post-workout or post-competition recovery phase. Compression in the limbs boosts blood circulation back to the heart and prompts the exchange of oxygen and nutrients for waste products in the bloodstream. Voila! You can accelerate your recovery just by putting on some (really tight) pants.
Every athlete needs to tune out the noise once in awhile. Case in point: your roommate at a travel competition snores or talks in their sleep at night. Spend a few dollars on a pack of earplugs for any unexpected noise that could disrupt your sleep at night or during daytime naps.
When you can’t get yourself psyched up for a competition, or you need to tune-out that airplane noise, music is your best friend. All athletes need a pair of solid headphones (noise cancelling ear buds are great and easily portable) to plug into whatever they listen to for relaxation, inspiration, or motivation. Headphones range from $20 to $300; go with your preference on your price point.
7. Yoga Mat
Yoga mats will incentivize athletes to stretch more frequently, which often falls low on the priority list for athletes but plays a large role in their recovery and injury prevention. Coaches can quickly lay down mats on the ground outside for a group stretching session at the end of a workout. Yoga mats also make it easier to run a core circuit outdoors as athletes can better execute planks or abdominal repetitions with the added cushion of the mat.
8. High-Quality Tennis Shoes
Regardless of the sport, athletes all need a comfortable pair of high-quality shoes for multipurpose wear. These will serve athletes going to and from workouts, while traveling, and at indoor or outdoor competitions. Coaches may encourage their athletes to purchase identical shoes to look more professional at competitions.
9. Warm-Up Jacket
Like a good pair of shoes, a warm-up jacket should be a staple of every athlete’s closet. This should be a relatively thin jacket that zips on and off easily for use immediately before and after athletic events. A warm-up jacket keeps the athlete loose in the moments prior to a performance, and serves as a uniform for the podium during awards ceremonies.
10. Medicine Travel-Kit
It’s important to carry a travel-sized pouch of the essential medicines you might need should sickness or injury arise on the road. Items like Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen, as well as over the counter allergy medicine if you have allergies, can alleviate symptoms and keep you focused on your performance. A small bottle of hand sanitizer in that travel pouch isn’t a bad idea either.
Find more strategies to prepare for peak performance at bridgeathletic.com.