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Skill Development vs. Athlete Development

There are 2 things that you should distinguish when it comes to really exceling at your sport.

There is a difference between practicing your sport skill, and becoming a better athlete.

Firstly let me say this:

Let’s assume that “Better athlete” here refers to becoming stronger, more explosive, faster, mentally stronger, more endurance if necessary.

Practicing your sport skill would mean doing drills for your specific sport, playing in games, or any time investment to improve on the field or court for game situations.

Secondly I will say that BOTH of these things are necessary for an athlete to become better.

However there HAS to be a balance between the 2.

Sports like baseball and softball are notorious for this, since if you play travel ball, you are going to tournaments and practices the majority of the year, leaving little to no room for actual athletic development.

It is safe to say that EVERY athlete benefits from becoming faster than they are, from being able to throw at higher velocities than they currently do, produce more powerful hits at the plate.

Literally if you ask a team collectively “Who wants to get faster? Everyone will most likely raise their hand.

The appropriate follow up question would be “How are you going to do that?”

This is where the hang-up is.

When you as an athlete neglect the opportunity to train the physical properties necessary to do those things, you won’t truly develop those athletic qualities.

Going to baseball practice every week and tournaments every weekend, yes, allows you to become a better baseball player. You get the necessary experience to play more intelligently on the field.

In a way, yes you can “play” faster because the experience allows you to anticipate better, giving you a mental Jumpstart on the play.

But neglecting INTENTIONALLY setting the time aside to get stronger, more powerful and apply these properties to you sport hamstrings you from your true development.

Let’s say you play lacrosse.

You have perfected your shot to the T. It’s almost impossible to defend, when you are open.

But what happens when you have a stronger defender that keeps you off balance. Or you are not getting to your shot zone quickly enough to make the shot happen.

That’s where athlete development fills the gap. You have to have the structural capacity to stay balanced, and the neural development to become quick enough to get there.

So understand the difference between practicing your skills, and training to become a better athlete.

They each work in conjunction with one another, however minimizing athlete development for the sake of skill development will not allow you to reach your fullest potential as an athlete.

Practice hard. Train smart.

If you are that athlete who has realized recently that you need more athlete development incorporated into your sport practice routine, and looking for additional coaching, we would love to help. You can set up your Athlete Strategy Session with us here.