September marks the end of summer sporting events like the Olympics and the beginning of the fall sports season. As the hype swirls around the individuals and teams that are competing, we often hear about the greatness of this or that athlete. But what do we really mean by “athlete”?

The dictionary defines athlete as a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise. We at ADAPT would argue that this definition is incomplete.

There is a difference between possessing great athletic ability and being a great athlete.

Athletic abilities are the physical qualities that improve sports performance and decrease the risk of injury. We know these as speed, strength, power, quickness, mobility, stability, and so on. Phrases like, “Wow, did you see how high he jumped?” and, “She just did a backflip and landed on 4-inch-wide beam!” praise athletic ability.

But being a great athlete should be more holistic. Athletic ability is certainly a critical part of the puzzle, but mental fortitude, emotional poise, and proper conduct outside of practice and competition are imperative for optimal athletic achievement.

Being the fastest, strongest, and most skilled athlete does not guarantee athletic success. Appropriate personal conduct off the field and an ability to work with teammates and coaches are crucial to achieving athletic goals.

The same is true for your career after sport. Being the smartest person in the room does not guarantee success or happiness. You must be able to work with other people and maintain a lifestyle that balances life outside of your career.

Most athletes who train with ADAPT will not earn Division I scholarships and very, very few will become professional athletes. But by encouraging ADAPT athletes to give maximum effort, maintain a positive attitude and growth mindset, and develop an unrelenting perseverance, we cultivate habits that will serve them well in whatever comes after a competitive athletic career ends.

We want you to improve more than just your athletic ability by training with ADAPT, and our philosophy of holistic development is a fundamental way that we build better athletes.