Having on-the-field success is the ultimate goal for all athletes. But how is that achieved? The vast majority of people focus on (1) sport specific training and/or (2) athletic abilities, such as strength and speed. Yet, there are more factors that contribute to success than just those two. We all know people with tremendous physical abilities that never achieve success on the field. I think the following graphic is a great example of the building block components that make up a successful athletic performance.

I think the most overlooked component of successful performance—especially in amateur sports—are the traits in the base of the pyramid. The make-up of what is between the athlete’s ears has a significant impact on his or her on-the-field performance. We have all played with athletes who were gifted with incredible physical talents but because of their lack of emotional stability, desire, confidence, or coachability were unable to accomplish the feats that their innate talents could have achieved. Too rarely do athletes utilize resources available from sport psychologists, such as Brian Cain, who can help athletes improve in this area.

I think the second layer of the pyramid is the next most overlooked component of on the field success. An athlete’s mobility, stability, and movement patterns dictate not only on the field success, but also an athlete’s ability to stay healthy. Unfortunately, these are often overlooked in favor of getting bigger, stronger, and faster. The ironic thing is that getting bigger, stronger, and faster without the proper mobility, stability, and movement patterns is nothing more than the fast lane to the disabled list. Injured hamstrings, sprained ankles, and lower back issues are generally caused by an athlete’s lack of mobility and stability. This is why Oates Specialties carries many products that focus on mobility and stability—such as the Giant Flat Bands, Oval Balance Pads, and Foam Rollers.

Efficient and sound movement patterns are also incredibly important, regardless of whether it is movements and exercises during training or on the field. In baseball, especially with pitchers, the number 1 reason for injuries is due to inefficient movement patterns. In this regard, Oates Specialties is way ahead of the curve. Products such as the Connection Ball and Baseball Training Sock are specifically designed for baseball athletes to improve the quality and efficiency of their arm action and the deceleration phase of their throw. These tools help teach an athlete the most efficient way to both accelerate and decelerate during the throwing motion.

The speed, strength, and endurance portion of the pyramid likely needs little explanation. Athletes spend hours in the weight room and on the track trying to build strength, speed, and explosiveness. The important thing to remember, however, is the ultimate sport-specific task the athlete will be asked to perform during competition. Most weight rooms are designed for football players—as they are filled with bench presses, squat racks, and other press oriented equipment. This makes a lot of sense for football players who are being tasked with pushing opponents forward. It makes little sense for a baseball athlete, whose movements are rotational, not linear. Because of this specific need, Oates Specialties carries products such as the Speed Chains, Rotational Core Builder, and TAP Khaos Pivoter.

Finally, sport specific skills are very important to athletic success. Such skills can be improved through hours in the batting cage, bullpen, and other throwing and hitting training drills. Importantly, however, this is the last building block in the performance pyramid. If you haven’t laid a good foundation through mental and physical preparation, it will not matter how much time you spend on the sport specific training. Too many coaches and athletes alike attack performance from the top of this pyramid down, as opposed to from the bottom up. I encourage you to take a global look at your training protocols and regimens to see how it stacks up.

Until next time,

Brian Oates