Lifestyle & Grooming Habits of the World’s Top Athletes

What are the lifestyle secrets behind Usain Bolt’s success?  by J. Brichto / CC BY-SA 3.0

What are the lifestyle secrets behind Usain Bolt’s success?

by J. Brichto / CC BY-SA 3.0

These days athletes are celebrities in their own right and, like most celebrities, become known

for their fashion-forward ways. We can probably thank sartorial expats Victoria and David

Beckham for shaping up the style of footballers across the globe back in the late 90s. However,

go to any runway show during the Fashion Weeks of Milan, London, New York et al and you’ll

see any number of athletes and professional sportsmen filling the front rows.

Sport-specific regimes

What’s not so obvious, though, is the grooming routines that these men follow, especially in

more diverse sporting arenas like swimming and basketball. As it turns out, savvy athletes have

devised specific regimes that are designed to counter the effects that their physical professions

have on their appearance.

To a professional athlete, a good skincare and haircare routine doesn’t just keep them looking

great, it can also go a considerable way towards improving performance. Dallas Mavericks all-

star player, DeAndre Jordan, learned the benefits of developing a grooming routine when he

turned pro in 2008. In addition to packing his own toiletries (including Herbal Essences shampoo

and conditioner) for those 40+ regular season matches, Jordan is a convert to manicures and

pedicures. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal during the 2013 season, Jordan recounted

how his mother encouraged him to visit a salon, stating that “your feet are going to take care of

you, so you need to take care of your feet.” Since then he has a professional manicurist visit his

home every two weeks, and allegedly loves the whole spa-like experience.

Maintaining individuality

No matter what the sport, being a professional athlete requires extreme dedication and

commitment. The sporting environment is tough and competitive, and all too often demands that

individual players conform to a sense of uniformity, quite literally in the form of team or country

uniforms. Certain sports, like tennis and cricket, also have strict dress codes that restrict what

athletes can wear on the court or pitch. In these instances, it’s perhaps no wonder that so many

professionals get more creative with their grooming routines.

Just one of Paul Pogba’s unique hairstyles (Photo by PokerStars / Used with permission)

Just one of Paul Pogba’s unique hairstyles (Photo by PokerStars / Used with permission)

We only need to look to the football pitch to see how some athletes retain their sense of

individuality: via diverse haircuts. In an interview with The Atlantic during the 2014 World Cup,

psychologist Dr. Vivian Diller was quoted as saying “[for football players] hairstyle is the only

feature that can be altered to give them uniqueness and character.” They may well be headline-

grabbing, but unique manes like Paul Pogba’s iconic World Cup hairstyle and Ronaldo’s

dreadlocks all play their part in maintaining athletic performance. The more self-actualised a

player feels, the better his game is likely to become.

Well-being from the inside out

It’s no secret that to stay in the best of shape, professional athletes need to follow a rigorous

training plan and eat to fuel their performance, but not all pros follow this to a tee. Those who

do, however, such as former World Number 1 tennis star Novak Djokovic, know that true well-

being begins on the inside. He even starts the day with a carefully balanced breakfast that

consists of a large glass of water (room temperature only), two tablespoons of honey, oatmeal,

nuts, seeds, fruit, coconut oil and coconut water.

Internationally-adored former competitive swimmer Michael Phelps knew what it took to

become the most successful Olympian of all time: high quality rest on top of talent and

perseverance. So dedicated was he to getting the best quality sleep possible, at one stage in his

career he installed a custom-built cryochamber into his bedroom in which to snooze.

Phelps isn’t alone in developing and maintaining performance-focused sleeping habits. The

fastest man in the world (and space) Usain Bolt made sleep his number one priority off the track,

famously saying “Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the

training I do to be absorbed by my body.”

Certainly, the multi-million dollar incomes of the world’s top athletes makes establishing

grooming and lifestyle routines that much easier; not everyone has the budget for a sleeping

chamber, personal nutritionist or luxury barber. One of the key things that you can take away

from the routines of the men in this article is that no matter how hectic or high-pressured your

professional life is, there’s always a way you can implement self-care and grooming habits that

will keep you performing at your best.