4 Ways Professional Athletes Increase Their Career Longevity

Athletes with long careers stretching into their 40s used to be an anomaly. But in the last decade, stars like LeBron James and Tom Brady have proven that age is nothing more than a number. Athletes can extend the longevity of their careers thanks to a better understanding of how to optimize the body through carefully selected diets, balancing rest time, and a science-backed approach to recovery.

Armed with these tools, professional coaches like Josh Bonhotal, former assistant strength and fitness coach for the Chicago Bulls and vice president of performance for the personalized training app Future, can help athletes hone their skills and hone their skills. bodies to ensure a healthy, fruitful and healthy life. long runs.

Bonhotal says that more than ever, athletes are taking care of their bodies both on and off the field. Gone are the days when gamers indulged in the party lifestyle. Even professional figure skaters, who in the previous generation were known for dabbling in unhealthy lifestyle habits, have now resorted to strict clean diets to stay physically fit.

NBA players like Klay Thompson, Chris Paul, and the late Kobe Bryant have been known to avoid alcohol as part of their health routine. Bonhotal says it all comes down to a better understanding of physical and mental wellness and its impact on performance. “Much more attention and care is being paid to lifestyle factors and what happens off the pitch. In particular, much more education is being given about sleep, nutrition and stress management.”

With increased resources devoted to nutrition, stress management and recovery, Bonhotal says teams are building environments around players where good habits can emerge.

Here he shares four essential factors that help athletes develop long and fruitful careers.


Several teams have gone from catered meals to recreating farm-to-table style restaurants within their practice facilities, where all ingredients in every dish are locally sourced, organic and tailored to players’ individual dietary needs and preferences. . [Players are cutting out] sugars, processed foods; instead, everything is high in nutritional value with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.

As part of this, teams are now hiring not just one, but multiple chefs as salaried employees, whereas before, meals were served at best and it wasn’t so much about proper eating as eating. . Meals, snacks and supplements are provided for players wherever they go and even take home, leaving much less room or reason for players to eat anything other than what is prepared by team chefs under the guidance of dietitians of the team.

Photo: Josh Bonholal


In the past, teams mostly dealt with the late nights and rigors of NBA travel as “part of it.” Today, time zone changes, airtime, and long nights are taken into account and often individually tracked through wearable devices like Oura Rings to more accurately mark training and practice times. even beyond the group, to what is optimal at the individual level.

Also, you now see teams spending the night more often after an away game to prioritize a good night’s rest. Ten years ago, you always took a flight home or to the next city immediately after the game, which usually meant an arrival time between 2 and 4 am.

Lastly, several teams are modifying their practice and shooting schedules to take place in the early evening to allow players to maximize their sleep rather than getting up early for a 10am or 11pm shootaround. am, which for many players means getting to the facility. around 8 or 9 in the morning.

Stress management

When a player is struggling on the pitch, one of the first places you look is what’s happening off the pitch. Recognizing this, teams have begun employing more staff members focused on relieving and managing off-field stress as much as possible for each player so they can focus solely on their training, games and recovery.

In addition, you are now seeing a much greater commitment to mental performance and health services. Several teams even have multiple staff members in this area who can work with players on an almost daily basis, helping them with everything from building confidence, overcoming doubts and fears, and empowering them to manage anxiety and negative stressors more effectively.

This work alone can have a massive impact on not only your performance in the game, but also your overall recovery, as it can help facilitate a positive hormonal state (for example, minimizing stress hormones like cortisol) and create a virtuous cycle with other lifestyle factors like better sleep, increased willpower to make better nutritional choices, and more energy for workouts.

training and recovery

Almost everything gamers do these days is objectively tracked through wearables and other technology and subjectively through things like daily wellness quizzes. Training loads from practice and games can be measured both externally (stress on the muscles and joints) and internally (stress on the cardiovascular system).

With all this information available, performance coaches can be much more precise in prescribing training exercises, intensity and volume to optimize based on where the player is on any given day rather than guessing.

In essence, performance coaches are better able to hit the moving target with each player on a day-to-day basis rather than making group decisions. As a result, more players are seen to be taking a microdosing approach when it comes to weightlifting and conditioning training, where they train more frequently, sometimes every day, but in small doses (10-30 minute training sessions). five to seven times per week instead of 30 to 60 minute training sessions two to three times per week).

Many of the above factors can also apply to everyday people and their training and fitness goals, which we try to instill in Future. From the beginning of the trainer-client relationship, the trainers of the future identify the person’s health and fitness goals and then address them through exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress relief, if needed.

See also: Footballer-turned-Ironman Nathan Jones addresses pain management and recovery with medicinal CBD

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