The Priority Scale

This blog was inspired through my podcast interview and conversation with Coach Sunz Singh. The podcast will be dropping later than this blog, but I would highly encourage you if you are in the world of high performance sport in any capacity to listen to this interview when it comes out. Sunz is a brilliant mind in the S&C community and has worked with some really big names coming out of New Zealand. I have had a ton running through my brain since we talked last week and

Okay, shameless plug of my podcast over… time to get to the post.

Every athlete that I have ever worked with has come in with a goal. Some are more serious than others, but everyone has a goal. This post is really intended to speak to those more serious athletes with goals of playing at college, playing professionally or competing world wide. These are the athletes that really need to dedicate themselves to their sport.

My first question for these athletes is- How well have you mapped out your career? What does the peak of your career look like?

When I ask this kind of question, the responses I get tend to be quite similar throughout various sports. “I am going to play in the *Insert professional sports league here*” Now wherever you might be right now there is likely some distance between you and that goal. Ask yourself, how are you going to get there? The more detail the better.

What are you going to be doing next year?

The year after that?

5 years from now?

I think you get the point.

In talking with Sunz about his work in S&C one of the athletes we discussed in detail was Israel Adesanya, the current King of the Middleweight Division in the UFC. The reason I was so interested in discussing Israel is that he not only went from his UFC debut to UFC champion within two years but he rose to a level of stardom that few have ever seen. To the point that he is often called the face of the entire organization. In other words, when it comes to building successful athletes, Israel (and Sunz of course) has clearly done something right.

The way Sunz spoke about Israel really got me thinking. The major difference he spoke about between Israel and most other athletes was the level of self belief, but also the level of detail that he put into planning out his life and career. One of my favourite stories was talking about sitting on a couch with Israel 8 years ago watching Anderson Silva fight for the Middleweight Championship and having Israel turn to him and say “One day… I’m going to fight him” and then making that happen in Australia in the main event of UFC 234.

Anyways, the details in planning your career. Why does this help? Well, wherever you are in your career right now there is likely some distance between you and your ultimate goal. So start thinking about what it takes to be at that level. What are those athletes doing that you aren’t doing right now? What can you start putting in place today that will allow you to surpass those top players right now?

Chances are if we are talking about professional athletes, here are some things they have a pretty good handle on;

Practice → Not just “showing up” but deliberately breaking down everything they are doing in practice and how they can really streamline their process of getting better as an athlete. When you’re at the top level, if someone is better than you… they take your job. Can’t let that happen.

Training → One thing that (most) high level athletes have in common is that they are in shape to compete. As I said before, if there is someone else out there that can compete better than you… You are out of a job. Don’t just mindlessly go for a run and lift some weights a few times a week, make sure that what you are doing in the gym is TARGETED and you will see some legitimate improvements in sport from your training.

Nutrition → Fueling your body with garbage is a recipe for disaster. Learn NOW what you need to be eating and how you can improve so that this is second nature when you reach the top level.

Recovery → You know how you think it’s cool to push yourself to the limit every time you step in the gym? There is only so long that you can continue to train like this before your body suffers dear consequences. When you look at how the top athletes in your sport train, I guarantee they work hard, but they allow their bodies to recover. If you learn how to train smart now you will only continue to set yourself apart. It’s tough to understand sometimes that taking a step back and allowing yourself to recover may actually be MORE beneficial than another hard training session. I get that, but it is certainly an important lesson to learn.

These are four easy examples of things that elite athletes should likely have in place if they want a long and successful career. So now the advice Sunz gave during our interview was to place these items (and more) into what he calls the priority scale. What do you need the most work at? Once you know what element of your career you need the most work at, start working on fixing it. Put a plan in place and start to execute. This can be a simple change in diet, hiring on a Strength and Conditioning Coach to improve your training, whatever it is that will help you take a deliberate step forward towards your ultimate goal.

An important part of this method was also that this scale with every element of what you need in place as an athlete is constantly shifting. As soon as you feel like your biggest need changes, go with it and start focusing on the new #1. As you continue to focus on these important elements every day, you will start to notice that your abilities in sport sky rocket. You are consistently working towards that same ultimate goal, but just being more deliberate in the process.

Thanks for sticking with me through this whole post. I hope what I said here makes sense, and if you’re trying to make it big in your sport I would challenge you now to take a look at your current state compared to what athlete you want to be in the future and build your priority scale. What needs to change now? What is the next step? Don’t just hope that one day your dream comes true… plan out your path and identify your priorities. Take small and deliberate steps every day towards becoming the athlete you need to be in order to play at the top level. There is more to being a high level athlete than just skill of the game.

As always I would love to know what you think if you stuck through the whole blog. Shoot me an email; or a DM on Instagram @coachdusseault!