The Physiology of Performance

One highlight of the Orientation program was the presentation by Dr. Matt Gammons. We’d like to share what he presented to the kids and staff, as it has direct relevance to all we do here.

A summary of Main Points:

The key to achieving highest athletic potential is mental and physical preparation.  Mental preparation was covered in a talk by international sports psychologist, Heinz Graf.  Dr. Gammons concentrated on physical preparation.

Physical preparation: Nutrition and Recovery


  • In order to have the best chance to achieve, athletes must get proper rest, fluids and nutrients.
  • Common nutritional mistakes:
             1) Not enough fluids
             2) Inconsistent diet
             3) Too few calories
             4) Not a good balance of calories (carbs/protein/fat)
             5) Delay in refueling post exercise
             6) Huge and sudden changes in diet

Nutritional supplements

  • Protein supplements
    • Most athletes do not need more protein-but those who use protein supplements probably do need more calories—and protein supplements are high in calories.
    • Supplement industry- $1B+ annual sales. 
      • It is unregulated. 
      • Unsubstantiated claims. 
      • One reason certain supplements work (grow muscle, aid recovery) is they contain some amount of growth hormone, steroids (not listed in ingredients).  Others contain poisonous material (arsenic).

        ***The only supplements Dr. Gammons recommends for our athletes are calcium and vitamin D.  All other nutrients are readily available in our diet (notable exception- vegetarians and particularly vegans need to look to see which nutrients are missing from their diets).

Recovery is intended to create balance in a system in which balance has been disrupted through training. 

  • Athletes should sleep 9 hours minimum. Physical repair of system comes in deep sleep. 
  • Athletes need a good bedtime routine.  Consistent bedtime, wake time is optimal, and better than big changes in bed and wake time. Naps help if you can schedule them.
  • Stress is cumulative—and comes from all activities (training, academics, extracurricular, social).   If one area needs more time and is taking a physical and mental toll, the other areas need to back off. 
  • If an athlete is fatigued, dehydrated, poorly fueled- endurance is the system most immediately negatively affected and the effectiveness of training sessions is compromised. An athlete who is rested, hydrated and fueled can get more training runs in than the tired athlete.