In one of his recent Hard 2 Guard Player Development Newsletters, Brian McCormick takes on the concept of "athleticism" and makes some incredibly important points. The primary subject of Brian's blog was the perceived or lackthereof athleticism of Jimmer Fredette. Here are some of Brian's points:
I wish those who evaluate players had a better understanding of the attributes, characteristics, skills and talents that they were evaluating, as opposed to possessing a journalism degree.
I have written about the subject numerous times with regards to Steve Nash and Roger Federer: athleticism is more than explosiveness. Explosiveness is a key element of athleticism, especially in basketball, but it is not everything. Athleticism includes balance, agility, quickness, hand-eye coordination, endurance, strength, hand dexterity, foot dexterity, coordination and more.
I have seen Fredette play twice, so I am far from an expert. However, he illustrates good strength, footwork, agility, coordination and more.
More importantly, sport intelligence impacts sport athleticism. In tests of agility, players perform differently in closed-skill tests than in open-skill tests. There is an NBA player who tests as a mediocre athlete in closed-skill agility tests, but tests off the charts in open-skill tests (the trainer asked me not to disclose the exact test or the name of the player).
Therefore, pattern recognition and anticipation skills influence game athleticism. Fredette appears to have great pattern recognition and anticipatory skills which would augment his athleticism and make him a better game performer than any closed-skill test might suggest (in the event that he tests poorly; he may very well test like a good athlete even in closed-skill tests). If NBA writers and decision-makers rely too much on the out-dated tests at the combines, they may underestimate Fredette’s athleticism and his ability to translate his college success to the NBA. Explosiveness is not the same as athleticism. Athleticism is more than 40-inch vertical jumps or a 300 lbs. bench press.
Vern Gambetta defines athleticism as “the ability to execute athletic movements (run, jump, throw) at optimum speed with precision, style and grace while demonstrating technical competency in the context of your sport.” Clearly, by this definition, The Jimmer is plenty athletic.
Read Brian's entire blog: http://developyourbballiq.com/