Sport Specific Athleticism

What is athleticism? The term athleticism encompasses all the attributes that make up a successful sports person. It is different from fitness - many people can be fit, for example having good endurance, speed, power, strength, but they may not necessarily be athletic. In addition to the basic physical components of fitness are other sporting attributes such as body control, decision making and reaction time, which as a whole makes a person more 'athletic' and subsequently a successful sports person.

An early attempt to measure athleticism was the Cozens' General Athletic Ability Test (1936). General athletic ability was assessed using a weighted battery consisting of the following individual tests: baseball throw for distance, football punt for distance, bar snap for distance, standing broad jump, dodging or maze run, 300-yard run (originally a 440-yard run), and dips. These tests cover a range of fitness components, including coordination and some sport-specific skills, though we would nowadays expect a more robust analysis of each of the components of fitness.


In an interesting exercise by 'Page 2' on ESPN, they decided to once-and-for-all determine which of the world's sports is the most demanding. They analyzed 60 sports and got experts in their field to rank them (see the full ranking list) based on the ten skills listed below that they determined make up athleticism. From this ranking list, we were able to determine which sports were rated highest for each of these individual components of athleticism.


Reference: Frederick W. Cozens, Achievement Scales in Physical Education Activities for
College Men (Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger, 1936), p. 114.


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