A few years ago a group of us were talking about athleticism so I asked the group for a definition. No one could define it, they described it but it was not a definition. I could not find a formal definition that I thought adequately defined athleticism so with input from some of my colleagues I came up with a definition, this is the latest permutation of that definition. Your reactions or comments would be appreciated. Athleticism is the ability to execute athletic movements (run, jump, throw) at optimum speed with precision, style and grace while demonstrating technical competency in the context of your sport. It is easy to see to see it when someone has it. The challenge is to train it.


At 1/10/08, 11:55 AM, Blogger Dan Hubbard said...

Athleticism is used in different contexts. On one hand many people think of athleticism in terms of phyiscal qualities a person has that will allow them to play a variety of sports fairly well (i.e. Bo Jackson, Deon Sanders). I think of that as general athleticism.

On the other hand, I think of athleticism as one of four components an athlete has or develops to excel in a sport. I think of bigger, faster, stronger or more technically the ability to move and control your body in space, and respond to the environment efficiently. The other three qualities are sport-specific technical skill (i.e. free throw shooting), sport IQ (Peyton Manning), and mental focus (clutch performers). I think all athletes have varying levels of these four traits and different sports and/or positions require a varying degree for success.

Dan Hubbard

At 1/10/08, 1:27 PM, Anonymous Amy Griswold said...

I think one of the qualities of athleticism is the ease with which the athlete can learn and execute new techniques. Basically, making one's body do what you want it to....


At 1/10/08, 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think (in my humble opinion) that the defenition may have too many descriptors such as grace and style. When adding grace and style your are now describing a type of athleticism. I think the definition of athleticism needs to add consistency with accuracy (precision) while omitting grace and style. In doing so the defintion then can include those who may be disabled, physically and mentally. I've seen many who had style and grace but lacked the consistent precision needed to be successful in execution. (baseball pitchers, quarterbacks, etc) Michael Johnson was criticsed for his unpretty sprinting tehcnique but man was he fast!!

JOnathan Hewitt

At 1/10/08, 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the definition is excellent and do not think style and grace should be removed from it. Power is its' own form of grace all by itself!! :)

At 1/10/08, 10:48 PM, Anonymous sully said...

It’s a feeling of awe that drives us when we see it done with passion. When done right, it is a thing of beauty equal parts Art and Science. It can remind us of all things endured as much as it does reward. It can bring us up to the tallest of peaks and to the lowest of defeats. Nothing makes us acutely aware of our limitations and our bodies ability to overcome our limitations.

At 1/11/08, 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great point from Mr. Hewitt and in full agreement, especially about the disabled athletes or less than perfect form but high achieving athlete.

If I may offer the meaning of athleticism for me; the ability to learn a variety of complex motor tasks quickly, compentantly, and with consistance. Think of the athletes on Dancing with the Stars...

Phillip Bazzini
Tenafly, NJ

At 1/13/08, 10:39 PM, Anonymous Kristof said...

I don't quite know where the difference between style and rgace would be, but the definition sounds good. Sure makes me re-think the abilities of 'athletes' that I used to compete against who are now world-class, but still don't quite fit that definition, which shows that they still have room for improvement.

The only thing I would change (as a biomechanics nerd) would be 'optimum speed' to 'optimum power'. Since power is a combination of force and velocity (i.e. speed) and as power is the ability to perform work (mechanically or metaboliccaly) the change may help broaden the definition ... Thoughts?

At 1/14/08, 2:36 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

In rowing terms I think that the definition can stop after "speed"

"Athleticism is the ability to execute correct athletic movements at optimum speed."

There are no gold medals given for VO2, lactate or for technique/style, only for the crew that moves the bow ball the fastest to the finish line.

The fact that it looks graceful and rythmic is a product of the correct execution.



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