What Is Your Athletic Potential?

Have you ever wondered how athletes continue to set new world records, break through barriers thought to be impassable, and often achieve what was thought to be impossible? Are better athletes being born? Are we evolving genetically into a new race of super humans?

Of course not. The answer is simply that we are learning to pull more speed, power, coordination, and agility out of these athletes. The science of coaching and training is evolving, becoming more precise and specific. We are learning to create faster humans, not hatching them.

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The challenge is that most athletes do not have access to the very latest and greatest science and technology has to offer. Only the very best are afforded these resources and usually only after they demonstrate tremendous innate talent; or it is available to those that can afford it themselves.

Most athletes do one thing—they train, a lot, usually too much and too often. It is easy to believe that the harder you work, the more effort you put forth, the more return you will receive, but often the exact opposite is true.

I once worked with an athlete that had missed her dream goal of qualifying for a World Championship twice—by one placement. When she arrived at our facility we reviewed her bike position and found it to be extremely upright, saddle much too low; in short she was very ill-fitted. The truth is with a proper fit she would probably have achieved that goal years ago (she did go on to realize it).

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Consider the tremendous amount of time, effort, money, and resources that went into attempting a goal that likely could have been accomplished with a few adjustments to her bicycle.

Knowledge is power and we have more access to knowledge than ever before. But beware of thoughts, feelings, and opinions. They are usually regurgitated from another source, taken out of context, or misunderstood. You must find the factual science that will get you faster; help you evolve as an athlete.

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If you are simply charging up the training volume hill you will likely reach a plateau. If your foot is landing forward of your center of gravity as you run, your potential is forever limited—until this form deficiency is corrected.

There are so many details to address that I have never believed any athlete truly and fully reaches their potential—they just stop trying to find ways to address their limiters. There is opportunity for better recovery methods, better nutrition, more accurate training, better seasonal planning, equipment changes, improved economy, pacing an execution, mental skills, and testing to determine efficacy.

As a triathlete the tendency is to promote and train the strongest sport but the exact opposite should be occurring. Think about your weaknesses. Review your approach. Refine your methods. Find your science. Your success will lie in the details.

More: How Much Does a Professional Train?

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Matt Russ is a full-time professional coach with over 20 years of experience working with athletes up to the elite level. His athletes have won numerous regional, national, and international titles. He holds the highest level of licensing by both USA Triathlon and USA Cycling, and is a licensed USA Track and Field Coach. Matt is Head Coach and owner of The Sport Factory, a USA Triathlon Certified Performance Center. Visit The Sport Factory for more information or email him at coachmatt@thesportfactory.com.

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