An 8-Part Assessment to Identify Elite Athletes

James FitzGerald the 8-part assessment of elite athletes from Wodapalooza

James FitzGerald breaks down the characteristics of an elite athlete on the Wodapalooza Seminar Stage

James FitzGerald gave a seminar on the eight characteristics of an elite athlete on the Wodapalooza Seminar Stage. Use these eight characteristics to determine if your client is capable of being an elite athlete.

(Note: If you want to see James discuss this assessment live, sign up for our newsletter and get a recording of the seminar delivered directly to your inbox.)   



1) Are They an Efficient Mover?

In a sport like functional fitness, athletes have to be efficient movers under heavy load, fatigue, and in metabolic environments. You can identify athleticism by watching a person skip across the room, navigate monkey bars, or jump rope looking for coordination and the ability to create solutions to movement.

2) Do They Have a High Level of Resilience?

Top-level athletes have to be able to adapt to work thrown at them. A very resilient athlete has a ton of capacity and is used to being uncomfortable. With all things being equal, a great way to evaluate an athletes resiliency is to increase volume and intensity relative to previous training cycle and gauge the response.

3) Can They Self-Pace?

To be the best an athlete needs to know how to self-pace. Go back to any open workout and watch the top two competitors, notice that they are pacing themselves and aren’t just going hard the whole time. Pacing can be trained but it is a long process. #rewardthepacer

4) Do They Have Good Genetics?

Functional fitness self selects. If a million people are put through the same workout there would be groups of people who perform well in certain areas due to their genes. Athletes can out train their genes but only up to a certain point. To perform at the top level an athlete must have genes on their side.

5) Do They Have Rhythm?

Athletes have to have consistency in their lives. They train when the sun is up and go to sleep with the moon. The best athletes have to have variance in movements and strategy but consistency within their lifestyle.

6) Do They Have The Proper Intent?

What makes the elite athlete different is their intention that they will win these athletes have a clear vision and a clear “why” for what they are doing.

7) Do They Have a High Fitness IQ?

Athletes with a high fitness IQ are generally very disciplined and incredibly self-aware. They’re able to evaluate themselves on a high level. There is a progression of fitness IQ and to truly be the best an athlete must become unconsciously competent.

  1. Unconscious Incompetent (Thinking that they are the best)
  2. Conscious Incompetent (Realizing that they are not the best)
  3. Conscious Competent (Realizing that they are good)
  4. Unconscious Competent (Do not realize how good they are)

8) Do They Have Extensive Sports Culture Knowledge?

As an athlete in the sport, it is important to know things such as previous tests, results from these tests, characteristics of the top in the sport historically relative to now and where the sport is going in terms of organization at its highest levels.

These eight characteristics of an elite athlete were pulled directly from FitzGerald’s speech at Wodapalooza. If you are coaching an athlete FitzGerald’s latest course Mixed Modal is for you. Designed specifically for coaches and athletes, this course will teach you everything you need to know about the sport of competitive functional fitness as well as how to create podium-caliber athletes.

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