What is an elite athlete? When looking at the definition of elite we see it means “a
select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group.” So in other
words, the “better” athletes. As coaches, we know there is more to being elite than just being
good at the sport. Work ethic, character, along with athletic abilities are all qualities elite
athletes share. Elite athletes are always extremely gifted and talented, but we all know the
saying “hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.” So what happens when you
combine talent with hard work? Well, that’s where the elite separate themselves from the rest.
And when separated, elite athletes always shine, and become natural leaders.
So what qualities are we looking at in athletes that qualify them as elite? For soccer
there is some obvious athleticism that comes into mind; speed, endurance, agility, awareness,
coordination, strength. These are all trainable qualities. Whether or not the athlete is naturally
talented and skilled, these 6 qualities are all something that can be improved on with proper
training. Soccer practice will help with soccer qualities. What I mean by this is practicing soccer
will help develop technical skill, but does not do much for the 6 qualities listed before. If you
kick a soccer ball 100 times, that does not necessarily mean you will be able to kick it further or
harder. That’s where strength and conditioning comes into play. We all know those kids that
are extremely gifted and produce natural talent, but that will only take them so far. Developing
elite level athletes takes a lot of proper training, both on and off the field. This helps to not only develop skill and athletic abilities, but character.
Character is another quality that elite athletes share, as we see that most elite athletes
are also leaders for their teams. Character can be developed in many ways, but one of the best
ways to develop character is through adversity. When it comes to strength training, adversity is
always right around the corner. It’s just you vs. the weight, and sometimes the weight wins. But
you always find a way to conquer it the next time. I love preaching to athletes that when they
step into a weight room, it’s just “you vs. you.” You are here to be better than you were when
you walked in. You’re competing with yourself, to better yourself. And if you work hard, you
always win. Elite athletes never shy away from a battle. And if they lose, they learn. And adapt.
Now, when we see these elite athletes on the field they are typically noticeable,
especially when they are so far “superior” to the rest. These elite athletes though, will always
bring the team up and improve the abilities of the team. Whether it’s with their character and
strong leadership, or they put the team on their back, the elite always do what they can for the
better of the team. They have the work ethic, the skill and talent, the character, and the athletic abilities needed to drive their team to success.