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.

Fitness Index

There have been attempts to classify overall fitness into a single unit, a test of overall fitness. There are hundreds of individual fitness tests, but no universal method of combining the results of these these tests into a single meaningful measurement. We have discussed this singular fitness index, but in terms of athleticism, there are other factors in addition to just fitness, such as tactics and how the athlete copes under pressure. We have also attempted to classify these factors of success.

boxing requires all-round fitness and athleticismboxing requires all-round fitness and athleticism

Which Sports Are Most Athletic?

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 asked 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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More Fitness

Fitness is the key to success in sport. Following basic principles, you can develop fitness components such as strength, speed and endurance. See our colection of exercises and fitness equipment. Ensure you warm-up and stretching before any workout.

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