Looking to find something for the athlete in your life? Or looking to spoil yourself? Forget shaker cups and water bottles, here are the ultimate gifts for athletes.
There is a mountain of gear when it comes to things that are going to help your performance as an athlete. With so much stuff out there it can be easy to feel a little overwhelmed. And so what ends up happening? You end up buying a shaker cup. No-fail gift, right?
If you want to take your gift giving to the next level this year check out the gifts for athletes guide below. Nearly all of the items, varying from a couple dollars to nearly a grand, are things that I currently use or have used with fellow athletes.
If there is one thing we as athletes want, something we really, really want above all else…
To perform better.
And how can we accomplish this?
- By recovering faster and being injured less,
- Eating better,
- Improving workout habits and motivation.
This is how the gifts in this guide are organized.
The Ultimate List of Gifts for Athletes
1. The gift of faster recovery and fewer injuries.
High performance athletes know that the secret to performing better than the competition isn’t just by showing up to practice—but by showing up between practices.
This means taking care of our bodies, sleeping for rejuvenation, eating for high performance, and doing what we can to be ready for the next round of training or competition.
Here are some awesome ways to maximize recovery and minimize injury through your training and competition this year:
The hype behind the explosion of compression gear over the past decade has been sort of deserved, but not really. Suddenly we have athletes wearing nearly head to toe compression gear in competition, in practice, and at the gym. Whether it’s elbow compression sleeves or knee sleeves, compression gear is a proven way to boost performance speed up recovery.
While the effects of compression gear on performance, whether it’s an explosive, power kind of movement or aerobic in nature, have seen mixed results in research, compression has been shown to be highly effective in recovery.
So, while it might not help you perform better (although there is something to be said for looking good—look good, feel good and all that), compression garments can help you to recover more quickly after a huge workout.
While there are quite a few compression gear makers out there, from Nike to Under Armour, I’ve found the 2XU stuff to last longest. (Here’s a hint to make your compression gear last longer: don’t put it in the dryer. Ever.)
Men’s 2XU Compression Tights
Women’s 2XU Compression Tights
Marc Pro Plus EMS Machine.
The Marc Pro is not cheap (The base model is around $600, with the Plus version coming in just under a thousand dollars.) And this gift is more for the elite athlete.
I picked up a Marc Pro (full review here) back in 2013 and have taken it with me to training camps from coast to coast, use it after particularly grueling sessions in the pool, and even between events in competition.
So what the heck does it do, exactly?
You stick some adhesive pads to your skin, and it sends a charge, helping to stimulate muscle and facilitate muscle performance. Following their guide to pad placement, you place the pads strategically so that it stimulates the muscle, without fatiguing it, accelerating recovery by flushing your muscles. (Think of it as an effort-free warm-down.)
One of my absolute favorite ways to use it is to do a leg flush, hooking up the sensors to my calves and quads after a big training session and then elevating my legs for 20 minutes. As far as at-home or portable recovery tools this one is gangster.
You can use it anywhere, whether it’s in the hotel between sessions, at home after practice, or even in the back of the car on the way home from practice. You can also use it as a way to build muscle as it fires far more muscle fibers than conventional resistance training, making it one of the best ems machines for muscle growth.
The list of teams and athletes who use the Marc Pro is mind-boggling: NBA superstars Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and 18 NBA teams, including the last two NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. NFL teams include the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, and 16 more.
Countless other athletes, from cyclists, baseball players, hockey players, Crossfitters and much more use it as part of their recovery protocol.
Becoming a Supple Leopard (2nd Edition).
For those of you who are frustrated with persistent injury, and want an easy to follow program that will empower you to be able to conquer injury and your mobility woes this book will quite literally change your life.
It’s the first book I gift to athlete friends and the casual gym-goer.
For lack of a better description, it’s a repair manual for your body, showing you in Dr. Starrett’s casual and entertaining tone how to identify and fix the nastiness you are experiencing, whether it’s chronic swimmer’s shoulder (as was my case), how to squat properly, and much, much more.
It’s the best investment I ever made in my body, and also gave me the confidence to know that whenever my body springs a tweak or an ouchie I can always go to this book before going into full-blown panic mode.
Triggerpoint Grid Foam Roller.
The foam roller is another one of those workout tools that has become prevalent in training facilities and locker rooms. The brightly coloured tubes are pretty hard to miss, and so is the awkward fumbling many first-times experience when playing around with one.
The foam roller has been shown over and over again in research to be effective at speeding up recovery by promoting blood flow, decreasing arterial stiffness, improving mobility (especially when tag-teamed with static stretching), and reducing soreness (the dreaded DOMS).
Not too mention that rolling around on a foam roller is a heckuva cheaper than booking in to see a massage therapist.
For those of you who really want to imitate the sensation of having thumbs pressed deeply into your fascia and tissue step it up and get your hands on a rumble roller.
Lacrosse balls quite literally litter my home.
I am sure there is one under my couch somewhere, while I always have one in a drawer at my desk so that I can hit my scaps and traps while sitting in my chair working. (I have one digging into my left scap as I write this.) Great for hitting your hip flexors during those long days in the office as well.
Lacrosse balls are fantastic for getting at the gunk and knots in your muscles that a foam roller is too broad for. They are also great because you don’t have to be rolling around on the floor in order to use them.
In terms of massaging bang for buck, this is as portable and as cheap as it gets!
2. The gift of better nutrition.
Athletes are no different from anyone else—eating properly is tough. It’s a never-ending battle to keep ourselves fueled up and eating well, while also doing our best to fight the late-night carb-heavy cravings.
Better nutrition impacts athletes in a number of ways which is difficult to explain quickly—the improved energy levels, a stronger immune system, faster recovery, and of course, better performance in the weight room.
While nutrition fads will come and go, the basics of good, solid nutrition remain. Here’s three things every athlete can use in order to eat for high performance.
Meal prep supplies.
Meal prepping is simply the best. I’ve sworn by it for years, and it’s been the one thing that has really helped me to *mostly* conquer my own personal nutrition struggles.
The reasons are quite simple: it removes the convenience factor of crappy food choices, and it gives you the power to plan your meals instead of reacting to your untrustworthy cravings.
Whether you cook up a week’s worth of meals on a Sunday, or just the following day’s meals, meal prepping is a deadly way to save money (buying in bulk saves you some cashola), get a grip on your nutrition, and get the metric ton of side-effects that coming along with eating like you mean it.
To get started you will need a meal plan, a food scale for proper portioning, and some microwaveable containers to store your high performance food.
DecoBros Food Scale
Meal Prep Containers
Fixing your diet and nutrition habits starts with the self-awareness necessary to know what to change. Shining a spotlight on what you are actually eating is critical, and is the first step in cleaning things up.
Self-monitoring your diet with a food journal, whether with an app or a simple notebook, has been proven time and again in research to dramatically increase results when it comes to weight loss.
The accountability effects of writing out your meals forces you to be more honest about what you are eating, and helps beat the “ah, screw it” moments where we take a plunge head first into that large pizza.
(Our recommendation for a food journal comes next…)
3. The gift of motivation and better workout habits.
Lastly, we have the gift of consistent and more motivated workouts.
Consistent workouts are the dream of every athlete. To maximize the time spent during every workout.
A training journal will give you a bird’s eye view of your training, which will help instill a strong sense of control over what your performance. It’s hard to overstate how necessary this feels—to understand how progression works, to be able to see today’s workout in the context of the broader training cycle, and to be able to plan out training goals.
YourWorkoutBook is our shameless plug within this guide. It was designed by high performance athletes for athletes. As simple as that. It features a 4 month training log for everything from your training, conditioning work, along with a comprehensive food journal.
One of the most popular features is a weekly goal setting sheet that helps you stay on top of your training goals over the course of a long season or year.
5 Scientifically-Backed Reasons Foam Rolling is Awesome. Ever wondered what the big deal with foam rolling was? Here’s your guide to why it kicks butt.
The Benefits of Weightlifting Shoes. They look heavy and immobile. But that’s just one the reasons they will help you lift heavier and safer in the gym. Here’s a full breakdown of why weightlifting shoes are your ticket to bigger lifts.
6 Gift Ideas for Competitive Swimmers. Looking for something for the chlorinated person in your life? Here are a collection of gifts specifically for competitive swimmers.