The 5 Gifts Athletes Really, Really Want

When it comes to picking out a gift for the athletes in our lives (or for ourselves), it can be tough. After all, how many shaker cups and water bottles does one person really need? Instead of picking up the athlete in your life something they already have a heap of, why not give them something that they desperately want?

That’s where this little guide will come in handy.

In this little tongue-in-cheek gift guide for athletes we are going to cover the things that athletes actually want, from getting a little more wiggle room at the gym to spending some more precious minutes with their pillow and blanket.

Here are a handful of gifts for athletes that you won’t need a gift receipt for.

A morning off from practice. Want to make an athlete’s day? Give them a practice off. Or better yet, make it a morning practice that they can have off. I cringe to this day when I think of those early mornings during high school. With the sky darker than black still, the digital alarm clock would let out a cacophony of shrieks at the ungodly hour of 4:45 in the morning. On the days where I had set my alarm by accident, or practice was canceled, or I was simply too sick to go, I would sink back into those sheets with a sense of gratitude that has been hard to match elsewhere in life. Having a day off from practice, or even better, a morning off, is the best gift I could remember giving myself during my competitive days.

A big, fat PB. There is one reason that we do it. All those long hours in the gym, spending time working on our mental training, to working on dialing in our nutrition — to get better. And this means crushing that personal best that we have long had and sought to destroy. It’s the gift that makes everything, all the sacrifices, the nights in, the missed nights out, the early mornings and the blood, sweat and tears, completely and utterly worth it.

The gym to themselves. One of the perks to those really early morning workouts was that we always had the facility to ourselves. Not so much during practice after school, or at any other point during the day, really. To not have to compete with the throngs at the gym means not having to wait for machines, not having to deal with the roody-poo’s who sweat all over the machines, and who use the squat rack for everything but squats. Having your own lane, the court to yourself, or access to all the machines gives your neighborhood athlete the sense of being king of his little athletic fiefdom.

A training cycle without injury. There is precious few things in our world that is more aggravating than being in the swing of training and then being derailed by injury. Although we may have secretly liked the idea of having time off, seeing your teammates and competition continue to progress while you languish away on the sidelines fills athletes with a special kind of dread. Beyond the missed practices comes the guilt of being injured, of not having performed the pre-hab necessary to ward off the injury in the first place. To go a training cycle, or even a full year, without being injured is something every athlete would dearly love to find underneath the tree.

More consistent workouts. The frustration and dips in self-confidence that occurs as a result of an athlete not performing consistently in practice is kind of the worst. You see it all the time, in particular with young athletes who haven’t mastered the ability to keep an even keel mentally in the face of adversity. They will show up, bang out a couple awesome workouts, have a bad session and then more for days and workouts on end until they finally sort themselves out mentally, before restarting the whole process. How can you, the ultimate gift giver, help to correct this? Well, you can start by dishing out a workout log. (They are proven to help boost results in everything from weight loss to gaining strength in the gym.) Writing out workouts might seem like homework, but any serious athlete knows that recording and evaluating progress is essential to kicking butt and taking names in the gym and on the playing field.