Roadmap to improving performance in 2021

Unless you develop your own set of rules of discipline towards goal-setting, you are just another player in the game.

A new beginning is always exciting. A coronavirus vaccine is out and many of us will get the shot this year, which will probably result in life getting back to normal.

Every year I meet with my athletes and I ask them to write down their goals. Many a time an athlete will reflect and say, “I do not know how to write my goals,” or will pen them down without a razor focus. Writing down your goals or mission statement as an athlete will help you map your behaviour towards training, sleep, diet, relationships as well as the approach to bettering your body for the ultimate result: competitions.

Recently, when an under-19 cricketer was in a nutrition-counselling session, I asked the player: “What are your goals for 2021?” He replied: “I want to be the best batsman.”

The best nutrition to start 2021  

That goal is very lofty! It is very far off, and it won’t happen in 2021 unless he is already Virat Kohli.

I began to break it down for the athlete.

There are qualitative and quantitative measures to the statements or goals that you write down. As a nutrition coach to athletes, it can be put into the following perspective:

· I want to become fitter in 2021 – Qualitative

· I want to lose 4kg of body fat, gain 3kg of muscle mass, run 2km in seven minutes and 30 seconds, bat for 300 deliveries, and bowl 10 over every day – Quantitative

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Can you see the difference? A quantitative goal allows you to measure your progress. For example, if you don’t lose 4kg of fat, you won’t definitely attain your goal as that is a valid scorecard for fitness.

Here are some steps for an athlete in preparing a goal sheet for 2021:

· At level 1, define the broad strokes for your goal-setting.

· At level 2, expand each goal with a quantitative marker.

· At level 3, create a schedule or approach to invest time in that individual marker.

Further expand on goal-setting.

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Level 1

· I want to be fitter.

· I want better sleep.

· I want to eat in a more disciplined manner.

· I want better focus.

· I want to refine my sports technique.

· I want to be a better human being.

· I want to spend more time on my sport and less on distractions.

Now, these are the qualitative aspects of your goals. At level 2, break each down.

Level 1Level 2
Qualitative setsDefine your quantitative goals
I want to be fitterTwo-hour workout two days a week/Improve Vo2 max by 5%/Increase pull-ups to 12/Improve deadlifts by 20kg or more/Run at 8.8km per hour for 10 minutes/Lower resting heart rate by eight beats per minute, et cetera.
I want better sleepGet a sleep-tracking, exercise wearable watch. Get complete eight hours of sleep at night.
I want to refine my sports techniqueBased on your sport, the technical training could be very broad, with 50-100 points to improve on. Write these down.
I want to decrease distractionsWatch only one hour of TV or none at all. Limit social media time to one hour a day.
I want better mind focusDo 20 minutes each of mind exercises and brain reflex training. Talk to a mind coach on focused areas of action twice a week.
I want to eat in a more disciplined mannerVisit a sports nutritionist. Calculate your energy requirements. Consume calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats customised to your goals.
I want to be a better human beingWork on your language two hours a week. Teach underprivileged children for 30 hours per year. Help your parents with household work for two hours twice a week.


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Level 3 involves the long task of taking your direction from level 2 and building a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly timetable. This requires planning. For example, to improve VO2 max levels, what are the exercises you have to do to boost your oxygen-carrying capacity and for how long in a single session do you have to do that activity and how many times in day/week/month. Once you get the direction from your support staff – coach, trainer, physiotherapist, mind coach and nutritionist – you will be able to build a comprehensive timetable for your goals.

Level 2Level 3Goals set
Increase VO2 maxRun at 11km per hour for six minutes four times a week.4pm on Monday/Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday.
Do power breathing training of 30 breaths morning and evening.Daily at 6.45am and 7.45pm.
Add lycopene (tomato and watermelon) to your daily diet to boost lung function.Tomato juice at 6am and watermelon juice at 4.15pm.
Add beetroot three hours before your daily training.Beetroot extract with lemon water at 3pm every day.


Setting goals for winning is about focus. The desire to win is not enough and this is the biggest mistake that athletes make. The design is more important that the desire. The desire to win is based on a goal that has random settings. “Design to win” is based on multiple goals that are defined and tangible. They are quantitative and measurable in a schedule.

Nutrition and diet plans positively enable one part of an athlete’s goal. Merely saying “I will eat healthy” or “I will eat with discipline” is a qualitative goal.

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Sitting down with a sports nutritionist and measuring your body fat, muscle and blood levels gives you a measuring point of where your body is currently. Getting your sports diet in place for a Monday-Sunday regime is fixing goals on what you will eat, when you will eat and how much you need to eat. This is the start of your quantitative goal-setting for nutrition and performance.

Finally, do not follow someone else’s goals. They are not the same. You may replicate any leading champion’s behaviour or philosophy, but it does not work. I have seen that unless you develop your own set of rules of discipline towards goal-setting, you are just another player in the game. You are not a champion. Sit down and get cracking on your goals in 2021.

Email me your goals at The top five best thought-out goals sent to me will get sports-nutrition counselling on how we can better your sports performance in the new year!

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