Is "Athleticism" really a Thing?

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Pretty In Pink, Aug 5, 2018.

  1. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Like, is their such a trait as "athleticism"? Americans are crazy about it. I'm constantly bombarded with "LeBron James is way more athletic than anyone in the UFC and could beat most of the heavyweights with only a few years training because of his athleticism!"

    No I am of the belief that there is literally no such trait as athleticism for the simple reason that it is not a definable trait that you are born with.

    I'm constantly stuck with arguing that athleticism is simply years of competing and practicing physical sports and good body awareness, compounded with being used to competing under pressure. It's something that anyone can have by way of being a very active child/person.

    So, stupid question from me.... Is it a real thing?
    axelb likes this.
  2. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Highly Skilled Peeper Supporter

    I think athleticism can be better defined by calling it kinesthetic intelligence/awareness in the sense you're using it. Kinesiology is the study of the mechanics of body movement which the term kinesthetic intelligence/awareness is derived from.

    I think it's just like any other physical trait that some people have more or less of, and it's probably one of the more advantageous when it comes to things involving high amounts of coordination like martial arts. If LeBron James decided to start training MMA, he probably would have the potential to progress quicker than most people after his body adjusted to the kind of demands fighting puts on it.

    However athleticism often encompasses the accumulation of multiple abilities, such as strength, flexibility, fitness, etc.. Somebody who has done sports all their life are going to be more athletic and have greater potential to progress quickly if they start training because of it.
    axelb and Mangosteen like this.
  3. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool the merc with the mouth MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Well it's a real word,

    the definition of athleticism

    People who are strong etc are harder to kill in general, but that's why there is skill involved in combat sports, skill plus athleticism beats altheticism alone.
    querist likes this.
  4. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    I'd say so. I think it ends up really being more about an ideal combination of rltraits that fall under the umbrella of athletic; speed, strength, explosiveness, coordination, balance, reaction time... They all just end up blending together a high level of refined skill and optimized movement. It's a gestalt.
    David Harrison and Mushroom like this.
  5. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    I always thought athleticism was simply - "stupidly fit, relevant to the sport of the athlete"
  6. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Cool word! Today I have learned!

    See now I don't have a problem with someone saying that someone is athletic or is anything. It's just when people use the term athleticism as a factor and comparing it to fighters.

    For example, one you often see is "There are no high-level athletes fighting in the UFC, they are all in the NFL because it pays more."

    And I'm always like "No, there are lots of high-level athletes in the UFC training in MMA. NFL guys would fair no better than any other fighter at the highest level of MMA.

    I also don't think "natural athleticism" is a thing (something others constantly contribute to superstars in other sports). Purely because I've never seen a person who was naturally athletic and at the same time never did anything really physical. That's just not how it works.

    So, in my opinion, it just comes down to people who work hard and people who don't. Am I wrong?
  7. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Yes. Like any human trait the physical qualities that make someone more (or less) "athletic" vary on a spectrum. Hard work definitely helps but everyone starts from a different base level and has different potentials to they can reach. No amount of hard work is going to make you sprint like Usain Bolt, run like Mo Farah, lift like Eddie Hall or dunk like Lebron.
    I've no problem with saying that the athletes that make it in the NFL (with its massively bigger sample pool and the way it tests attributes in the combine) are generally "better" than the athletes that make it in the UFC.
    MMA seems to me to still be a sport people "fall" into rather than actively pursue in the same way a career in the NFL or NBA are.

    The other factors that make a difference in fighting however (technique, fight IQ, fight specific fitness, taking a punch, etc) can make all the difference even if one person is more "athletic" than the other.
    David Harrison likes this.
  8. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Sometimes it comes down to genetics a mix of better endurance strength and hand eye coordination, some people are simply more gifted and will always have an advantage if they train as hard as someone without those gifts

    And through scouts etc they tend to gravitate towards the sports best suited for this gifts is a defensive end in the NFL who is really gifted in strength might be useless as a pitcher in baseball

    There are a few NFL players who were also D1 all Americans in wrestlers but went into the NFL as that's where the money is in the ufc yo can see what athletically gifted people can do when they move over from sports deep in talent pool but sort on cash like wrestling and put there athletic talents into a new sport

    Yoel Romero is a good example
  9. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    Well because comparing individual athletic factors isn't necessarily helpful. Sure you can say one fighter is faster than another, or stronger than another, but that doesn't mean as much as essentially saying that someone is better on the whole in terms of athletic traits. It's shorthand, not terribly specific, but I don't think it's necessarily useless as a term.

    Probably more fair to say that with more money, a larger talent pool, and a better recruiting and development system through college football, what you'll tend to find is that there are more and higher level athletes in football, especially those best suited to the game. It's a question of sample size. But, and there is a but, I don't actually think that's as relevant because the minor gap in athleticism between the top level athletes won't be that big. The real divide is the number of them.

    That's like saying you've never seen someone who was naturally musically talented who didn't do anything musical. It's selection bias and you spelled it out yourself. You'll probably find people naturally suited to a given activity doing said activity. You can't eliminate the confounding variable of training, but all else being equal the more naturally gifted folks will be better. Some people find this depressing, I think it's a good reason to work harder.
  10. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    I'll write a longer post later to explain but athleticism is like the term fitness in that it means nothing.

    I owe you a birthday present so Ive got a book for you
  11. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Athleticism has to be a term applied to the sport it is being measured against. What's athletic for one sport isn't always athletic for another. However the NFL combine, for better or worse, seems to be looking for a wide variety of elements (strength, speed, agility, proprioception, etc) that could be put together to assess general "athleticism" that would be more applicable to a range of sports. Do well in the combine and I'd be willing to bet that person has a range of attributes that would make them pretty good at many sports (not counting sport specific skills of course...which are probably more important TBH).
    Americans seem a bit obsessed with this sort of "athleticism". Probably because of the influence of the combine on assessing people and the way Americans seem to love stats and figures that can be compared. :)
    David Harrison and Mangosteen like this.
  12. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    Exactly what I was thinking smit fire. fitness means fit to a purpose, athleticism means athletic qualities for a purpose/sport. Are longer distance runners more athletics than sprinters?! Heck no because they're different.

    Additionally let's look at trainability which in itself is a overlooked factor in athleticism
    Pretty In Pink likes this.
  13. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    To explain trainability see the below graph.
    People get excited about person 4 (the last object in the graph) because they start high but 2 and 3 are most trainable but 2 will often get ignored when starting out because of the low baseline (similar to 1) so in most sports we end up with person 3

    Attached Files:

    axelb and David Harrison like this.
  14. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    If we are talking about sports which have a similar energy system focus then they will also prize similar athletic qualities,

    team sports such as rugby and American football sit on the same energy focus platform as mma they are alactic-aerobic in nature and thus will share similar athletic traits:

    being explosive for short period of times, being able to recovery and repeat the above, being fast and strong will all be traits needed for those sports

    Then it comes down to where do you find the athletes with those traits the most? And outside of the light weight divisions they will be found mainly in football, rugby and baseball as that's where the talent spotting is and where the money is
  15. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I also don't think you can discount temperament and intent in this.

    Contact sports require a certain temperament to get into and enjoy. Intent lies in motivation.

    The other factor, as well as money, is the opportunity to practice these sports from a very young age because of inclusion in school curricula.
    SWC Sifu Ben and Mangosteen like this.
  16. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    That's probably one of the main variables that separates combat sports from regular sports. Even ostensibly related hard contact sports like rugby and hand-egg.
    Someone like Mark Hunt probably isn't top tier "athletic" and probably wouldn't cut it in even low level college American football but damn he's gone far in kickboxing and MMA on his temperament and intent. :)
    SWC Sifu Ben and David Harrison like this.
  17. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    As a naturally disadvantaged person, (probably person 1 on @Mangosteen nice graph), i like the levelling factor of martial arts for the less "athletic".
    I could never run as fast as everyone else playing football, but getting into judo it felt good to progress without the same conditioning.

    Grit has definitely got to be a factor in there also, so many that excel certainly have that mental focus.
    SWC Sifu Ben likes this.
  18. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Highly Skilled Peeper Supporter

    That chart reminds me of the Joe Rogan interview with Firas Zahabi, the trainer for GSP (I think, that's what I think I understood from the interview). He said that he could probably train the majority of people, regardless of their experience in sports or martial arts to be a UFC competitor level fighter with enough time depending on the individual. He followed with saying that there was only a small percentage of people who can be trained to be a top level fighter at the UFC level, or a UFC champion. There's that extra bit of potential that has to be there.
    axelb and Mangosteen like this.
  19. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Hunts of Samoan descent I believe

    So now we are looking at genetics as well as athletic ability, those island boys are disproportionately athletically gifted :)
    axelb likes this.

Share This Page