Conversations with patients are always enlightening. This week I have had conversations with several different patients regarding the 2 most important "abilities" that an athlete can have. All of these patients were different types of athletes. A high school athlete, a recreational distance runner, a crossfitter, a blue-collar worker, and a gardener. All of those people had different demands that they place on their body, and all of them are ATHLETES. According to Bill Bowerman, a former track and field coach and co-founder of Nike, "If you have a body, you're an athlete."

During the week, I asked all of these athletes - "What are the two most important ABILITIES that an athlete can have?" The answers that I received were telling. One person said "endurance" (Can you guess which one said that?), another said "speed", another said "strength." Two of them denied that they were athletes at all, but didn't realize exactly how physically active they are! None of them mentioned the two things that are essential for success as an athlete.

In my opinion, the two most important abilities for an athlete are Adaptability and Availability. The ability to adjust on the fly to changes in your environment will allow you to maximize your talent in any number of situations. We need to be able to change course at a moment's notice. This applies to all athletic endeavors, but also to just about any other aspect of life! As important as adaptability is, availability is the ultimate trump card. You could be the best competitor, but if you can't perform because you are injured, then you cannot help yourself (or your team/family/co-workers/etc.) You have to ensure that you can - Live To Train Another Day. You can be the best pitcher that has ever played the game of baseball but if you manage to get hurt on the 2nd pitch every time that you step on the mound, I am reasonably sure that your baseball career would be short-lived. If you are a carpenter and get hurt every day, do you think that you would be able to keep a job? I'm guessing the answer is NO! 

The moral of this story is that without adaptability and availability the road to success as an athlete (or simply as a human being) is sure to be a bumpy one!

Edit - I posted this image on Facebook and a friend of ours commented with a third (and equally important) ability - Coachability. Clearly I overlooked this one, but I love this answer! We need to be able to receive constructive criticism and use it to improve, without getting defensive. Often, the only way to improve a skill is to have another set of discerning eyes watching you perform. So the next time that someone (who is qualified to offer advice) offers a suggestion, actively listen to that suggestion to determine if it might help you out!
Movement is my Medicine,
Dr. William "Chip" Bleam

Dr. William "Chip" Bleam


Contact Me