"What is an elite level athlete?"
As I watch the 2017 MLB Draft, I'm looking at the top 10 picks to see what big league teams are valuing. It's always interesting to see how pro scouts assess talent, as it's a window into where the game of baseball is going. Baseball is becoming a game of 'athletes'. Gone are the days where being technically proficient was enough to get you to the next level. As I look at the top 10 picks, the average guy is your prototypical 6'2", 195 lbs athletic build that can run a 6.5 or faster 60 yard dash or throw 95 mph+. Teams are betting on athleticism more than anything.
I've often heard you can take a great natural athlete with average skills and coach them up...but athleticism is a God given gift that can't be taught. I've coached athletes to take their 60 yard dash from 6.8 to 6.3 in 3 months. I've trained baseball players to increase their throwing and exit velocity 10-20%. I've had athletes increase their vertical jump from 30" to 38.5" in just a matter of 8 weeks. "Speed and athleticism can't be trained" is only said by those who don't understand how to train athletic performance.
Elite power, speed, and recovery all have one thing in common. They're controlled by the human nervous system. The efficiency in which they occur is determined by the efficiency of the neural mechanisms that have control over them. Training the mechanisms is how we are able to create elite level athleticism. We go right to the source. Throwing a 100 mph fastball, hitting a ball 500 feet, or running a 6.2 60 yard dash are all examples of an athlete able to create a powerful neurological signal while filtering out unnecessary noise. Optimizing the signal by eliminating the noise is the key to unleashing these athletic abilities. This is a biologically emergent phenomena that all athletes have access to if the right conditions are met. Most athletic training systems in today's world attempt to create a stronger signal, but in reality are just creating more noise.
So what is an elite level athlete? An elite level athlete can rapidly create a powerful signal and then relax and recover just as quickly. This can be displayed as a blazing fast sprint, a homerun swing, or a 100 mph fastball. The elite athlete has mastered the source of all of these, an ability to send a powerful neurological signal to the body to perform and rapidly recover from that maximal performance.