Let’s clear things up first and foremost: just because you are a bodybuilder, for example, does not make you an “athlete,” by definition.
Having athleticism is not merely about being big and strong. You may look better than certain athletes, and be bigger, and be stronger, but that does not equate to being athletic. Athleticism isn’t just about being big and strong.
Here’s what you need to know…
- Athleticism requires movement quality, coordination, strength, and speed – in that order.
- It’s a lot easier to pack on size and strength if you’re flexible and move well.
- Focus only on movements that have the highest carryover to other things.
When it comes to athleticism, the general adage is that you will be forced to give up on a certain aspect of development, to prioritize another area for your given sport or activity. With athletics, unfortunately, you cannot have your cake and eat it too.
Your Sport Takes Priority When Training
Let’s take boxing for example: in order to be a successful fighter, you need to box. You need to spar, you need to hit the heavy bag, you need to work the mitts with a trainer, and so on and so forth.
Weight lifting can be good for boxing too, obviously, but it is not a staple and it does not take priority over boxing specific training. That is what we mean by having to give up one aspect of training to focus on a more “important” one. And note, I say important loosely, because when it comes to athleticism, EVERYTHING is important!
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Athletes can be more flexible than coordinated, or more strong than balanced, and etc. When training for athletics, it’s important to put more emphasis on the weaker areas to build them up, but also not to neglect the stronger areas of development. An athlete is a well oiled machine, and no facet of training should ever be overlooked!
With each quality that an athlete possesses, it is very important to address each of these qualities individually, so that training is not one big cluster-fuck. The key areas for athletes to focus on are:
Athletic Qualities, in Order of Importance
To be athletic, you need to be able to move well, without restriction. The best way to achieve this is through active mobility work. Stick to mobility drills that incorporate many joints and muscles that also build strength.
There are many ways to improve hand-eye coordination and footwork. Favorites include letterball catch, juggling, and cone drills.
Being fast or agile is pointless if you can’t lift heavy things. The best choices for building strength are full-body movements like the deadlift or the squat.
You can’t go wrong with sprinting at full speed. Be sure to progress slowly and if you haven’t sprinted in a while, start with hill sprints instead. It reduces deceleration demands along with the chance of pulling a hamstring.
We could talk about athleticism and becoming an athlete for days and days, but to get a great grasp of the ideas and fundamentals, you should most definitely head over to this article on T-Nation.com and pay close to attention when you read it!