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Duke Mom
03-26-2010, 12:07 PM
The thread on Freeman's article got me thinking. The term "athletic," as it is used in basketball, seems to be associated with specific physical attributes which some believe are used more often to describe black players than white players. Maybe the media needs to update its definition of "athletic." What are the qualities that make a great college basketball player "athletic?"

Welcome2DaSlopes
03-26-2010, 12:13 PM
Lebron James

moonpie23
03-26-2010, 12:14 PM
kyle singler

Highlander
03-26-2010, 12:31 PM
IMO - "athletic" players have speed and strength in high quantities. You can be strong or fast, but "athletic" usually refers to someone who is both.

JohnGalt
03-26-2010, 12:34 PM
IMO - "athletic" players have speed and strength in high quantities. You can be strong or fast, but "athletic" usually refers to someone who is both.

You have to add coordination to speed/strength. Without the ability to control your own body on ground or in the air, there is no way you would be considered athletic.

greybeard
03-26-2010, 12:55 PM
You have to add coordination to speed/strength. Without the ability to control your own body on ground or in the air, there is no way you would be considered athletic.


what about the ability to play at different speeds, to go in different directions, to shoot from different trigger points, with either hand, off the backboard from slight angles, get an edge on a player (see Cousins from Kentucky), predict what the other guy is going to do, make the other guy do what you want, make the other guy only think that he knows what you will do next, etc.

I think that it is artificial on both sides of the coin to take intelligence out of "athleticism."

I believe that in common parlance it would be speed, hops, coordination (very loosely defined as being able to make acrobatic moves), and a distant last, strength.

However, for these to comprise an effective package (I know that this is a misuse of the term "comprise" but it is common enough to pass and I like it) one must be smart, have a very quick and discerning mental ability, imo.

That said, I personally commonly use the term "athletic" to describe anyone who is on the high end of fast, combined with high end jumping ability and coordination.

If they also are a very good basketball player they would necessarily have to be smart, as I understand the way things work.

And, someone who is on the high end of athletic ability by the above definition among the normal population among basketball players but not among the "elite" can be a better "athlete" in my view than someone with elite athleticism, if he uses his body more effectively in a game situation than his elitely-athletic counterpart. :confused:

Kewlswim
03-26-2010, 01:15 PM
Hi,

I am unathletic in terms of basketball, but perhaps because of other activities--Spinning, marathons, swimming, etc. would be considered athletic in other circles. I don't think there is a meta definition for athletic because it is very related to what one is doing.

GO DUKE!

JohnGalt
03-26-2010, 01:34 PM
what about the ability to play at different speeds, to go in different directions, to shoot from different trigger points, with either hand, off the backboard from slight angles, get an edge on a player (see Cousins from Kentucky), predict what the other guy is going to do, make the other guy do what you want, make the other guy only think that he knows what you will do next, etc.

Sure, these are all elements too. If searching for a concise definition though, I think coordination (what I call body control), speed, and quickness are the three most important factors. Speed and quickness are related, but I define speed as moving forward and backward wheres quickness is lateral. I would argue that all three of these factors are - for the most part - born into the individual. There are techniques and exercises that can sharpen and slightly improve them, but for the most part, you are what you're born with. I think strength can be included on a much smaller scale, but the degree in which one can improve his level of 'strength' is drastically larger than the other three which is why I'm hesitant to include it as one of the primary attributes of a spectacular athlete. This is why you hear people use the phrase 'natural athlete.'

Also, I agree with kewlswim that the definition of an athlete is fluid and can transform when dealing with different sports. I'm just sharing my definition of a revenue sport athlete, most specifically, the basketball player.

Duke Mom
03-26-2010, 03:04 PM
As greybeard noted, exceptional physical attributes don't amount to much if you don't have the smarts. When to pass the ball, who to pass it to, when/if to foul, how/when to fake a pass and then drive, and so much more. Maybe a lot of these sportscasters are either just lazy or inarticulate and use the term "athletic" simply to make a sweeping generalization, when they don't have the words to really describe what they are seeing. But what so many object to (Freeman's article) is that the word "athletic" seems to get used more based on race. If that's true - perhaps it's because of the seemingly narrow media definition of what "athletic" really means, when in reality it means so much more.

greybeard
03-26-2010, 03:34 PM
Sure, these are all elements too. If searching for a concise definition though, I think coordination (what I call body control), speed, and quickness are the three most important factors. Speed and quickness are related, but I define speed as moving forward and backward wheres quickness is lateral. I would argue that all three of these factors are - for the most part - born into the individual. There are techniques and exercises that can sharpen and slightly improve them, but for the most part, you are what you're born with. I think strength can be included on a much smaller scale, but the degree in which one can improve his level of 'strength' is drastically larger than the other three which is why I'm hesitant to include it as one of the primary attributes of a spectacular athlete. This is why you hear people use the phrase 'natural athlete.'

Also, I agree with kewlswim that the definition of an athlete is fluid and can transform when dealing with different sports. I'm just sharing my definition of a revenue sport athlete, most specifically, the basketball player.

This is dead wrong. As a human being, you are born with no coordination or understanding of how to move any part of you. None, zero. You have no concept of right or left, you cannot even see.

Also, none of what you learn about movement, eventually crawling, eventually standing, eventually walking, etc., and none of what you learn with regards to coorindinating movements, is encoded. Nor can it be taught. It can only be figured out, self learned, organically, by trial and experiment, by literally going after things.

So, while musculariture has a genic component, the rest of what you talk about does not. It is a function of self learning. As are all the other things I mentioned.

So, when you see one person use all of themselves elegantly, efficiently and effectively in walking, reaching, faking out a defender, elevating, understanding a defender's movement patterns and abilities, and see that person as gifted athletically it is in large part because he or she has taught himself or herself well and has not let intrusive instruction get in the way. On the other hand, good learning environments are extremely helpful, and being around people who themselves are well organized and perform well provides a model that one can try to figure out how to implement. But, while being of a family composed of well-organized people can be extremely helpful it has nothing to do with bloodlines.

By the way, receiving tips about what might or might not be implicated in carrying out a particular task can be extremely helpful in accelerating learning, but "how to" instructions just get in the way. Good coaches create learning environments, they do not give "how to" instructions.

JohnGalt
03-26-2010, 03:39 PM
This is dead wrong. As a human being, you are born with no coordination or understanding of how to move any part of you. None, zero. You have no concept of right or left, you cannot even see.

Also, none of what you learn about movement, eventually crawling, eventually standing, eventually walking, etc., and none of what you learn with regards to coorindinating movements, is encoded. Nor can it be taught. It can only be figured out, self learned, organically, by trial and experiment, by literally going after things.

So, while musculariture has a genic component, the rest of what you talk about does not. It is a function of self learning. As are all the other things I mentioned.

So you think if you take 10 random infants and have them grow up in a controlled environment where they are basically engaging in the same routine activites, at the age of 20 or so they would all have an identical level of coordination, speed, and quickness?

I know that scenario is probably implausible, but it's an honest question. I'm curious to know what you think would happen.

Spret42
03-26-2010, 03:50 PM
You have to add coordination to speed/strength. Without the ability to control your own body on ground or in the air, there is no way you would be considered athletic.

This. It is a combination of size/speed/strength in harmony with a natural physical coordination. These are the tools. They can be harnessed into the ability to perform very specific skills.

greybeard
03-26-2010, 04:01 PM
Hi,

I am unathletic in terms of basketball, but perhaps because of other activities--Spinning, marathons, swimming, etc. would be considered athletic in other circles. I don't think there is a meta definition for athletic because it is very related to what one is doing.

GO DUKE!

If you don't know HOW you organize yourself to do the athletic things you do well, and few people really do, then it is not easy to transfer what you do well to other skill sets. The more self-aware you are of how you organize yourself to, I'm sort of guessing here, to rotate through the stroke and the kick at the same time, the more able you will be to transfer your abilities to learn to shoot a basketball.

I have long believed as a parent watching my own and other youngsters is that the biggest impediment to one's making progress is measuring one's ability in certain areas against one's abilities with regard to something one is extremely good at. My observation is that one tends to judge oneself inept simply because learning in one realm does not come with the same ease and clarity as in another.

So, I agree with you, you can be a genuis at using your body in swimming but actually not understand why that is so, and just because you are a genuis in one realm of movement does not mean you will be one in another. Therefore, a universal definition of being "athletic" would be impossible.

However, I understood that the discussion here was about how the term "athletic" was commonly understood in the context of playing basketball, or perhaps ball sports in general. I think what you said would probably hold true, that is, that there is not one common definition of "athletic" even as between football and basketball players, but others might disagree.

Cisco
03-26-2010, 05:17 PM
of or pertaining to athletes; involving the use of physical skills or capabilities, as strength, agility, or stamina: athletic sports; athletic training.
(via dictionary.com)

Tests of athleticism:
Speed
Jumping ability
Agility
Coordination
Strength

*None of this applies to Duke, as all white players are not athletic.
(Via Doug Gottlieb)

brevity
03-26-2010, 05:56 PM
The thread on Freeman's article got me thinking. The term "athletic," as it is used in basketball, seems to be associated with specific physical attributes which some believe are used more often to describe black players than white players. Maybe the media needs to update its definition of "athletic." What are the qualities that make a great college basketball player "athletic?"

As it applies to college basketball, I associate "athletic" less with individual attributes and more with team flow. In this year's tournament, I considered teams like Missouri, Tennessee, and Washington as those that favored an "athletic" style of play. Interestingly, I wouldn't necessarily describe better-on-paper teams like Kansas, Ohio State, or Syracuse (all of which have more than their share of amazing athletes) the same way.

I think the difference is that I'm looking for teams that appear (but probably aren't) undisciplined. Their movement is fluid but less predictable. I suppose I could draw a music analogy if I knew anything about music. If you notice, I mentioned teams above that aren't exactly the highest seeded, but manage to be dangerous in the tournament anyway because of their athleticism.

I'm sure it's tempting to build a discussion of athleticism around race, but there's more to the story than that.

P.S. I always wondered why Duke fans jumped on the second part of Doug Gottlieb's phrase "alarmingly unathletic." He didn't say "unsurprisingly unathletic," after all. The "alarmingly" part is an interesting qualifier which shows he had (at the time) above average expectations about this squad's athleticism.

greybeard
03-26-2010, 07:20 PM
So you think if you take 10 random infants and have them grow up in a controlled environment where they are basically engaging in the same routine activites, at the age of 20 or so they would all have an identical level of coordination, speed, and quickness?

I know that scenario is probably implausible, but it's an honest question. I'm curious to know what you think would happen.

No. Studies and observations show that while there are developmental stages, learning to arc the neck which develops the cervical and lumbar curves in the spine, learning to turn over, lift the head which would not be possible without those curves, the concurrent development of the extensor muscles, learning to slither like a lizard (think WWII movies and a soldier slithering using forarms) and bringing lower legs up and down along the ground, to crawling, to standing and so on, infants learn differently and many skip essential stages that stultify learning and movement abilities throughout life, unless the process is essentially revisited.

So, assuming equal genetic markup for muscularture )spelling, ugh), there still would be wild differences in learning and thus ability to use what one was born with.

You only need to stand on the street in a busy area and see the wild divergence in how people walk to see that some have learned poorly and no mature how "fine" they otherwise might be, you can barely look at them, while some rolly polly catches your eye and is a pleasure to watch to see that people learn differently, and that incomplete learning along the way has dramatic effects.

How can it be that a terrific triathlete says that he or she cannot shoot a basketball, or cannot dance? Genetics? The science says otherwise.

So, the acuitity of the sensors and propreceptors to pick up information and the inquisitiveness and intelligence to take in that information and experiment with it and choose what is easiest and best is the most accurate measure of learning ability that there is and that ability varies tremendously. You will notice that I said that genetic makeup will effect muscular development which will make athletic performance vary based upon genetic factors. But, muscles or no, a poor learner will be neither fast nor quick of feet, hands, legs, arms, eyes, pelvis, etc that make for athletic performance. The best muscles imaginable without a brain are worthless.

greybeard
03-26-2010, 07:33 PM
There is a terrific piece on this month's Real Sports, HBO, about a guy who was blind since he was 3 and was a terrific skier with the assistance of a seeing skier to guide him. The piece is instructive for several reasons. First and foremost, the guy had an operation that has made his eyes near perfect. Nevertheless, he sees only 20-800. Why? The nurons in his brain that interpret sight information have transformed over the years to process other information and so while his eyes see his brain doesn't. A neuro scientist said that synapses, the connections between neurons which are essential for connecting brain function to bodily function have tremendous plasticity, neurons in a person of his age not so much.

My guy Moshe Feldenkrais would have argued with that postulate and his work with stroke and MS and cerebal palsey effected people speaks to Moshe's 50 years of disproving that notion. Unfortunately, while he wrote a number of books and articles, and there is lots of film working with all kinds of folks, he wrote only one in depth case study.

The other interesting thing was that the guy was not nearly the skier sighted than when he is guided by oral instructions. The scientists say that that is due to a lack of depth perception on his part. Moshe would probably say that he has lots of elemental learning to do, which would never occur to scientists who are oblivious to the connection between the mind and the ability to move, and the importance of going back to square one when one is confused about how one performs the elemental and habitual pieces of all movement.

cptnflash
03-27-2010, 02:03 AM
The thread on Freeman's article got me thinking. The term "athletic," as it is used in basketball, seems to be associated with specific physical attributes which some believe are used more often to describe black players than white players. Maybe the media needs to update its definition of "athletic." What are the qualities that make a great college basketball player "athletic?"

I have no idea what qualities actually make a great college basketball player athletic, but I can say with confidence that the term "athletic" as currently used by the college basketball media means having a high amount of the following:

1) End to end footspeed.

2) Lateral quickness.

3) Vertical leaping ability.

4) Hand/eye/limb coordination, particularly as it pertains to making spectacular plays around the rim.

NM Duke Fan
03-27-2010, 10:02 AM
of or pertaining to athletes; involving the use of physical skills or capabilities, as strength, agility, or stamina: athletic sports; athletic training.
(via dictionary.com)

Tests of athleticism:
Speed
Jumping ability
Agility
Coordination
Strength

*None of this applies to Duke, as all white players are not athletic.
(Via Doug Gottlieb)

Interesting list. When I played I had a good measure of all the above, EXCEPT elite jumping ability. And although plyometrics can help such, that training can also lead to injuries. And no matter what I did, my jumping never became level with my other athletic capacities. There are some white players who have exceptional verticals, Czyz was an example. But from my observations elite vertical jumping ability amongst American white athletes is not seen all that often. The one area where I've tended to see more of it is in Eastern Europe, the genetic underpinnings for elite jumping ability seem to be a bit more prevalent in that overall population.

Duke Mom
03-28-2010, 10:16 PM
nolan smith!!!

Welcome2DaSlopes
03-28-2010, 10:21 PM
nolan smith!!!

hahaha when i seen this thread reappear on the front page, that was my first thought.