What Makes an Elite Athlete?

A great athlete is more than just the sum of their attributes. A great athlete brings something beyond the average. Sport Science Lab is in the business of making great athletes. We work on the necessary physical aspects: balance, control, flexibility, coordination, stability, rhythm. SSL also trains the mental aspects of athleticism: determination, power, and acuity. There are athletes that come along with that special something they were perhaps born with, ie genetics. But with SSL, you can reach that rarefied air where you have the chance to take that step to greatness.
Sport Science Lab athlete Will Blackmon

Balance is vital, and a starting point for SSL. It means having proper range of motion in the key joints: toes, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and wrists. Having good balance also means you have the proper ratio of flexibility between the hamstring, opposing quadriceps and supporting groin muscle groups. Imbalances in this area are critical, and will lead to injury, and falling short of the higher levels of athletic accomplishments. This is why SSL spends so much time remediating imbalances: without improving weaknesses, you cannot reach greatness.

Control of your body, muscles, joints...all of this is achieved through the neuromuscular system. Neuromuscular control is body-wide, and leads not only to greater ability, but greater ability to replicate sport-specific movement. It allows you to control your extremities in all ranges of motion, on multiple planes while still reacting to ever changing surroundings. This must be trained. Martial arts provide an example, beginning slowly, imprinting the proper biomechanical movements, and increasing speed and repetitions constantly, allowing the nervous system, mind, and body to work at ever-greater levels. Without this connection from the brain to the body, the athlete cannot excel.

Sport Science Lab athlete Morgan BeckRelated to neuromuscular control is hand-eye coordination, as well as hand-foot coordination. This connection between the hands, feet and body allows athletes to do things that seem unearthly to the untrained. With Sport Science Lab's NIS protocols, this level of coordination becomes accessible.

A final expression of neuromuscular control in great athletes is rhythm and timing. This ability to know when to fire those coordinated muscle groups, based on experience, imprinting, proprioception and awareness of the world around you is often the final differentiator between a good athlete and a great athlete.

Flexibility does not mean simply reaching the greatest range of motion possible, but the most appropriate range for the specific task your body is assigned to. Too much flexibility is as bad as too little flexibility, and can lead to instability and injury in and of itself. A great athlete has proper range of motion and flexibility...you cannot stay on the field if you are hurt.

While the system is firing it must have a core of steel. The limbs of a great athlete radiate from a core trained to maintain posture and stability, allowing the muscles of the arms and legs to fire fast and accurately. Without this stability an athlete simply cannot move at the same rate of speed, and, improperly trained, can leave themselves open to the most debilitating injuries. SSL trains the muscles along the spine and hips to provide an integrated, rock-solid core.

A final characteristic is muscular balance. An imbalanced body, with muscle groups improperly dominant, cannot engage in sport-specific movements at maximum speed and force. Proper muscle balance allows for the proper sequential firing and relaxing of the agonist, synergist and antagonist muscles involved in athletic movement, and thus a proper and maximal generation of force and speed. This allows the athlete to perform complex actions longer, faster, and more powerfully.

Training these physical abilities with an awareness of their mental processes allows the athlete to hone and train their mind as they sharpen their body. The increasingly challenging nature of the methodology attacks the athlete's weakest points, creating mental power, and constantly challenges the mind to react faster and more accurately to stimuli. The accomplishment of gradually more difficult goals gives a positive mental framework allowing the athlete to respond to difficult situations with a will to win. All of this combines to make a determined, winning athlete able to reach those highest levels of achievement. This is what makes an athlete great. This is what Sport Science Lab does—helping you achieve what you never thought possible.