This week at the SoccerFIT Academy, our college kids came back to kick off their off-season workouts with us. And, in what has become very typical, we spent quite a bit of time reminiscing, evaluating and discussing new ideas and workout philosophies that they have been exposed to while they were away at school. We then compile all of their winter break workouts (from a dozen or so schools) and create a great blend of our favorite drills and their school’s required exercises. We blend each workout into a short 2-3 week phase of strength, speed and fitness work.
On Tuesday we started debating over who was the best athlete ever to come through our program, and why they felt that person was deserving of the title. Over the past 12 years we have had athletes win national titles and all American honors in soccer, volleyball and softball. We have sent hundreds of kids to college and have hundreds more that are waiting in the wings. So, as you can imagine, to come up with a way to evaluate who the best “Athlete” is/was can be very difficult. Here is how we decided to do it:
- We first had to question… What is “true” athleticism? Is it speed, strength, skill, power…? Does it revolve around how fast or fit you are, how high you jump or how quickly you pick up new tasks of tactical execution…? We decided that we had to throw skill out because we have volleyball players, football players, track kids and soccer players, and skill is all relative to the sport they play. We had to throw straight ahead speed out as well, as most sports don’t require long, straight sprints. We came up with a very simple definition that sounded something like, “An athlete is someone who can jump higher, accelerate faster, change directions quicker than the next guy, in a pattern that was new, and not specifically related to their sport.”
- Next we had to come up with a way to test it? We thought about standing vertical… but that’s not “athletic”, it’s really just an expression of lower body power in a vertical plane. So we decided to let them jump any way they wanted (standing, off one leg, two legs, with a step or a run). We next had to come up with a new pattern of agility that involved acceleration, deceleration and change of direction. Then we tested the kids (each test took less than 30 seconds to avoid any element of fitness or conditioning) and put it into our testing system to calculate a points total.
Below is a video montage of these college guys and girls working out and performing the test during the middle phase of their workout on Tuesday. In this video, you will see modifications of various lifts based on what the athlete needed and what was required in their program, and you will see them go through the test. The test, by the way, became very competitive as everyone wanted the title of “Most Athletic Player” ever to come through our program.
When it was all said and done, everyone could agree that the player that scored the best in this test truly deserved the right to be “The Most Athletic Player.” Over the past 48 hours we tested another 60 athletes, ranked them and had their peers rank the ones that they considered most athletic. To our surprise, the scores from the test, matched up with the rankings from their peers almost identically. With a few modifications and a little more testing, we may have a much quicker way to evaluate athletic ability… I love it when our kids come back from college!