4 Types of Athletes (and How They Can Learn to DOMINATE)

athlete playing basketball

Swimmers, runners, quarterbacks, center-fielders and forwards — they all have one thing in common. The desire to improve and perform at the highest possible level in their sport. But every athlete doesn’t start at the same level. Some need to make huge gains to reach their peak performance while others need to perfect certain movements.

That’s why we focus so heavily on individual assessments and developing personalized workouts. Finding the right training plan for your body, movements and goals is critical for your success. But today we’re going to look at four different types of athletes, what their goals are and general tips for how they can move closer to their best performance.

The Up-and-Comer

Every year, more than 480,000 young athletes compete in the NCAA. Even making it to that level requires dedication and talent that disqualifies millions of high school athletes every year. Taking that talent pro means beating even greater odds — NCAA athletes, for instance, only have a 1.2% chance of making it to the NBA.

Athletes looking to play in other pro leagues or compete in the Olympics face similar odds. It’s a longshot, and those who make it are those who never let the odds deter them from being their best. These up-and-coming athletes are tomorrow’s superstars — but they still have plenty of work to put in if they’re going to rise to the top of their game.

How They Go Pro (and Then Some)

For these athletes, training isn’t as simple as ensuring you do the right workouts during the week. Becoming the best means mastering their own bodies and movement, which includes:

  • Intentional Dieting and Nutrition. If you’re not putting the right fuel in your body, you’re not getting the most from your workouts.
  • Identifying Ideal Forms of Movement. This varies by sport — swimmers need to build endurance and respiratory function while strengthening their entire body. Golfers, however, need to focus on more nuanced movements to get the most from a swing.
  • Showing Non-Stop Dedication. Once they know what they need to achieve, these athletes put everything they have into mastering movement. They don’t cheat on their diets, and they don’t fudge their workouts. They put in the work it takes to get better.
  • Training Smart. Getting that draft pick doesn’t matter if you blow your knee out on the way to the top. In addition to training hard, these athletes also work with experts who can help them avoid injuries.

The Fanatic Amateur

Just because the odds of going pro are slim doesn’t mean the rest of us should throw in the towel. Fanatic Amateurs know they can still run an impressive marathon even if they’ll never see an Olympic track. Because their career isn’t dependent on their sport, it may even give them the freedom to excel at multiple sports — as a swimmer, a runner, and a point guard, for example.

They do have something in common with the pro-focused Up-and-Comers, though. For these athletes, their sport isn’t just a hobby. They want to be their best, and their athleticism is part of a dedicated lifestyle.

How They Consistently Take Home Medals and Trophies

World records might be out of reach, but these athletes can always set a new personal record. They’re committed to constant improvement, and they keep pushing up against their limits by:

  • Setting Goals. The goal may be as simple as getting better. But it may be as specific as shaving minutes off their next race. The important thing to establish a starting point, so they can constantly evaluate their performance.
  • Asking for Help. Pro athletes have dedicated coaches and nutritionists to help them identify weaknesses and improve. An amateur athlete doesn’t have those built-in resources, but if they want to make serious improvements, they’ll work with experts who know what it takes to be better.
  • Finding Community. When you live an athletic lifestyle, it’s important to surround yourself with people who have similar goals. These athletes are usually excellent at building communities, serving as cheerleaders, rivals, and motivators to keep each other at their best.
  • Knowing Their Limits. Fanatic Amateurs are passionate athletes, which is part of what drives them to be better. The dark side of this passion is that it can also drive them to over-work their bodies and train too aggressively. The best athletes at any level know that it’s important to make gains incrementally to avoid injuries.

The Motivated Achiever

Not every athlete spends all their free time training. Some choose to be more strategic about their training and care more about improving their overall health than they do about winning competitions.

It’s these athletes we see finding excellence in other areas of their life, too — their careers, their families and their finances. They want to be the best possible versions of themselves, and their commitment to success extends into their physical performance.

How They Keep Everyone Saying, “How Does She Do It?”

No one gets anywhere sitting on the bench — or the couch. These athletes might not consider their performance as a key goal in their life, but they still find a way to make it a priority. That’s because they:

  • Make the Time. Excuses come easy, but greatness takes work. Even the busiest of us can find a few hours to dedicate to our health, and these athletes are masters of optimizing their time. Motivated Achievers are often highly organized, blocking out time in their schedule each week specifically for training.
  • Stay Positive. These athletes usually give off a vibe of effortlessness. It seems like everything comes easy to them. That’s because they’ve learned to maintain a positive attitude. They know there’s always room for improvement, and they don’t let setbacks shake their confidence.
  • Learn. No one can be the expert at everything. These athletes know they don’t have the in-depth education or experience to run their own training plans. They seek out professionals who can help them find healthy ways to improve.
  • Respect their bodies. Proper diet and careful training are important, even if you’re not competing. Whether these athletes are working to get back in shape or they’re simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle, they have made a commitment to taking care of themselves.

The Comeback Kid

No athlete is at their prime 24/7. The fact is, many of us slip up. We get injured or complacent. At that point, it can feel easy to give up — after all, reaching your previous level of performance takes work. Moving beyond it can seem impossible. But not for the Comeback Kids.

These athletes are re-committing themselves to their athletic performance. They’re driven by a desire to surpass their previous limits and show they world — and more importantly, themselves — that they still have plenty of game left in them.

How They Shatter Their Old Records

Injuries can be painful and disheartening. Even losing a few months of training when you’re not injured can provide a mental block that’s difficult to overcome. These athletes know a few key things that keep them going:

  • Even the Best Athletes Have Setbacks. Muhammad Ali was suspended from boxing for three and a half years in his prime. Lance Armstrong was sidelined with cancer. Ben Hogan suffered multiple injuries in a car accident. And all three came back to later dominate their respective sports.
  • Sometimes It’s OK to Take It Slow. As frustrating as it can be, easing back into your training routine is important. These athletes know that avoiding further injury is incredibly important, and as hard as they work to improve, they try their best to do it in ways that won’t cause further setbacks.
  • Doubt Can Sometimes Be the Biggest Roadblock. If athletes don’t believe they’ll improve, they won’t. No team ever won the Stanley Cup sitting on the bench. And no athlete will ever get back to great performance if they don’t try. These athletes have seen their limits first-hand. And they know they can overcome them.
  • No One Succeeds Alone. Even world-class golfers have caddies. There’s no sport where a dedicated team of supporters, experts and well-wishers can’t help make you better. This is especially true for injured athletes, who rely on quality care and athletic experts to help them regain lost motion and improve their health.

What Kind of Athlete Are You?

If anything in this blog resonated with you, Accel Performance and Wellness can help you reach the next level. We have regionally-unmatched performance facilities and coaches with some of the industry’s top credentials. With underwater treadmills, physical therapy, indoor turf training and so much more, there are plenty of opportunities to achieve more.

And remember, every athlete is different. These four types are just broad strokes — within them are different body types, gifts and needs. Beyond them are all sorts of motivations for improving your performance. At Accel, you’ll receive assessments to track your athletic ability, set attainable goals and work with our expert coaches to create personalized training plans.

Reach out to Accel Performance and Wellness today and see how we can help the athlete inside you DOMINATE your sport and achieve your peak physical performance.