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Optimum Performance: Seven strategies to stay at the top of your game in 2014 |

Shirtless man flexing muscles.

In 2003, I wrote a book, “Maximum Energy For Life,” — a 21-day strategic plan to feel great, reverse the aging process and optimize your health. It makes a distinction between being a “prospect,” someone who is on the verge of accomplishing great things versus a “suspect,” one who doesn’t live up to his/her potential.

Remaining successful means continuing to be a good prospect, showing colleagues, teammates, coworkers and rivals that you continue to perform at a high level and are on the verge of new accomplishments.

To continue to be an outstanding performer, you need to develop strategies for bringing your body, mind and emotions back in balance.

So, as we head into 2014, here is what to consider:

Strategy No. 1 — Reduce Your Health Age to Increase Your Performance

We all have a birth age, but it doesn’t always translate to our “health age,” which depends upon factors such as being overweight/obese, a type 2 diabetic or a cardiovascular risk from sedentary behaviors. The same situation can apply in pro sports as a result of chronic injuries, unless positive change is made through dedication, a smart work ethic and a little luck.

Peyton Manning, who’s had multiple surgeries on his neck and was released by the Indianapolis Colts two seasons ago, last Sunday set the NFL single-season record for yards passing and threw four first-half touchdown passes to secure the top seed in the AFC playoffs when Denver trounced Oakland 34-14.

Strategy No. 2 — Increase Your Fatigue Threshold

At the nine-year mark of his NFL career, I told my client, All-Pro left tackle Lomas Brown, we needed to reduce his weight to less than 300 pounds to prolong his playing days. Despite his objections, Brown anchored his left tackle spot for six more seasons at 285 pounds, the lightest left tackle in the NFL at that time. The old axiom “fatigue makes cowards of us all” rings true, so lighten up and let your experience carry you.

Strategy No. 3 — Manage Your Performance to Go the Distance

Light heavyweight boxing champion Bernard Hopkins, another client, is a master at managing his “energy bank account.” Despite being 48, Hopkins is still able to go the distance. It does not matter if you give your opponent the battle of his life for five rounds if you don’t have the stamina to finish the fight.

Strategy No. 4 — Control Your Emotions

Controlling your emotions is not the same as suppressing them. I watched from the player’s box during last year’s U.S. Open as Serena Williams let out a big shout, but not a word, after she scored a crucial point against Victoria Azarenka. Emotional equilibrium is the key to achieving high performance.

Strategy No. 5 — Keep Your Work Life and Family Life Balanced

When I traveled with the San Francisco Giants in the 1990s, the team had two family road trips each season when players could bring their families. I marveled, as a new father, how the Giants’ starting pitchers could pull an all-nighter with a sick child and still bring home a quality road win the next day.

Strategy No. 6 — Learn to Anticipate Life’s Next Move

Spending 10 years with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, I was fascinated how players like Brett Hull and Wayne Gretzky could always see the puck coming two moves away. Gen. George S. Patton said it best: “I have studied the enemy all my life. I have read the memoirs of his generals and his leaders. I have studied in great detail the account of every damned one of his battles. I know how he will react under any given set of circumstances.”

Strategy No. 7 — Perform Well to Your Last Breath

Finally, there is no overtime in life. Therefore, it benefits us to perform with as much gusto as we can until our last breath.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2014.

Mackie Shilstone, a regular contributor to | The Times-Picayune, has been involved in the wellness sports performance industry for nearly 40 years. He is currently the fitness coach for Serena Williams and has trained numerous other professional athletes and consulted a litany of professional sports franchises. Contact him at

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