As performance coaches we love to talk about the acute variables of training our athletes daily—the sets, the reps, the protocols and techniques that lead to our athletes getting bigger, faster and stronger on the road to high performance.
We love to watch the most gifted athletes in our favorite sports perform on the biggest stages and marvel at the athletic feats of legends like Lebron James and Steph Curry. But athletic prowess isn’t the only skillset that differentiates from the competition. These super athletes possess another set of intangible skills that puts them ahead of the rest.
In the grand scheme of working to help athletes get better there are other skills that we also need to foster and help develop as we seek to be better coaches of the super athlete. In this Multiple part series, we want to discuss some of the skills that our favorite athletes possess that allow them to elevate to the higher levels of sport.
Here are 4 skills that all super athletes have:
1. Understanding the Importance of Teamwork
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”–Michael Jordan
One of the skills we help our athletes attain is understanding the elements of becoming a great teammate. Understanding how to be a teammate entails understanding the athlete’s own strengths and weaknesses and how they can be best utilized to help a team reach its goals. It allows the athlete to understand how contributing to the team as a whole can help reach the next level even when it means sacrificing individual goals. After all, the most beautiful play in baseball is not the home run, it is the sacrifice bunt. The art of giving up yourself to help the team.
2. Improving Communication Skills
“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”– James Humes
Sports and coaching provide athletes with important communication skills. Teaching athletes to master the elements of both verbal and non-verbal communication can help them to improve their leadership and performance in high-pressure, competitive settings. Understanding what messages need to be sent and how to convey these messages can mean the difference between focused performance or disorganization in crucial situations.
3. Controlling Emotions
Emotions can get in the way or get you on the way.-Mavis Mazhura
One of the best things that we can do as coaches is to spend time helping our athletes understand how to control their emotions. This can become a huge advantage for them in high-pressure situations. We want them to come in and train hard to become machines of athletic grace and power, but we want them to have the tools and intangibles to channel these energies in the right direction in competition. This can only happen if we place them in situations that provide them with the opportunity to work on these skills with repetition.
4. Developing Tenacity
‘Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”– F.Scott Fitzgerald
We want our athletes to learn how to work hard and demonstrate tenacity on and off the field. But we also want to instill in them the courage to fight on in pursuit of their goals and dreams despite the roadblocks that may obstruct their paths. Training can provide the perfect stimulus to develop these skill sets. To become stronger is to reach barriers and push through them in pursuit of higher levels of strength. We want our athletes to exhibit the same level of inner strength and tenacity in competition, when facing all obstacles.
The skills discussed here are not the only intangibles needed in conjunction with great athletic programming to reach levels of new success. However, they are important to develop to become three-dimensional athletes who are not just capable of physical grace and strength but also the highest levels of mental performance in their sport.
Check back next week for Part 2 to learn about 4 more essential skills to be a super athlete.
Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS is the owner of The LAB in Fairfield, New Jersey. He is the recipient of the 2017 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year award and has also been awarded the 2013 TRX FACEUP award for Overall Instructor of the Year. He represents brands such as Under Armour, TRX® and Matrix fitness as a Master Trainer. A former professional baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets and Montreal Expos, he brings his unique perspective to his work with athletes and active adults. He holds a master’s degree in exercise science with a concentration in performance enhancement and also holds multiple advanced level Certifications from organizations such as ACE, ACSM, NASM and NSCA.