One of the perks of being a coach is working with an athlete that has true potential.  As an athlete myself growing up, I always heard of a pitcher with potential, or a speedy running back. I wondered what the scouts considered “potential” and what they deemed to be not worthy. So, while this may not be the best representation of what they had in mind, I’m going to give you my input of what it’s like to work with athletes who show high levels of potential in their sports. 

Numbers
    This is probably the portion that you really wanted to read about when you clicked on the title.  The number is 6 or 7.  6 or 7 days a week of practicing your skill or sport with meaningful focus.  It isn’t your v02, your mph on a radar gun, your 40 yard dash, or your cycling FTP.  While those help, they don’t win you events all on their own. When we think of athletes with potential, we think of Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and Tom Brady.  But if you look at what developed them into the pinnacle of their sport, its the hard work and focused training they put in 6-7 days a week. While we all get caught up on improving our numbers (there is a place for this), sometimes we focus too much on the outcome and not enough on the process. So lets get to the meat of what it means to coach an athlete with potential

Potential
    What is possible? If you want to know my response, the answer is I don’t know.  I wish I could give you an exact response, but I don’t know if the human body has ever truly been maximized.  An exercise physiologist would tell you that if you had a v02 of 95 then you possibly could have maxed out (you can count on your hand the amount of athletes ever with V02’s this high), but what if we can go higher and we are just stuck chasing this number.  In my mind, an athlete with potential isn’t one set on any specific number, but rather is so engrained in the process of focused training that they constantly keep improving.  Yes there is a point where your returns on investment with training won’t be as high, but the athlete that keeps focused on the day-to-day efforts will still squeak out those last few areas of improvement. 

The Top Athletes
    Heres the thing, all top level athletes/CEO’s/Teachers/Engineers/Etc didn’t just fall there. While genetics do have some roll, environment and your mindset towards challenge and risk make up a huge percentage of the equation. While genetics may allow for improvements to come faster, hard work and continuous effort is what allows for improvements to continue. So it doesn’t matter where you’re starting from, what matters is if you put in the continuous work.  As a coach that has worked with over 150 athletes the past 5 years and seen countless athletes across my lifetime, the athletes with the highest potential are those that work hard. For them, their ceiling isn’t defined by some number, their ceiling is unknown because they continuously break through it. 

Conclusion
    There is no overall winning or failure in athletics.  Yes there is a winner and loser on any single day, but the battle is always on-going. If you are constantly putting yourself in a position to win because you’re scared of failure, then you are limiting the challenge and risk of your endeavors which will ultimately limit your potential. As a coach, I want to work with athletes that continuously focus on the efforts at hand, don’t get lost searching for an outcome, but rather are dedicated to the process of continued excellence.  If you were to examine each of my top 20 athletes currently, you’d find many different age groups, male and female, body compositions, v02’s, etc.  What you would notice though is that they each have the unique ability to keep building each week both physically and emotionally toward the goal of continued performance. They all focus on the process, and they are all my fastest athletes….and that to me is not by coincidence.



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