Sports Performance Metrics: Why the Numbers Matter!

Are You Prepared to Meet The Next Level of Competition?

Sports Performance Metrics are a crucial key to your overall athletic development!  Before I explain the why behind Sports Performance Metrics, let me first start out by telling you a story.

Years ago, during a combine to a group of high school age football players, I remember one athlete in particular that stood out.  He was a 5’11 about 225 lbs offensive lineman going into his senior year.  When I first met them, the  father immediately began gushing about what an incredible athlete his son was.  He said he was a first team all state offensive guard as a junior and that he was going to play Division 1 football.  I very enthusiastically said, “How exciting.  Where is he going to play in college?”    The father looked at me bewildered and said “we haven’t talked to anyone yet, but we’re sure the offers are going to start pouring in soon”.  

When I tested this kid, he was fairly athletic, but when I put him on the bench press test to test his upper body strength, he only managed 185 lbs for 4 repetitions.  This is when it really hit me.  They had no idea where they needed to be athletically to advance to the next level.  I was floored as this kid had been working with a “speed camp” style training facility for the past few years.  Why hadn’t the training facility he’d been training with all these years not shared where this kid needed to be to perform at the next level?  Why didn’t his high school coach(s) explain these standards to him? 

The 185 for 4 repetitions would put this kid at about a 202 lb., 1 rep max bench press.  The average Division I offensive lineman is 6’4, tall, weighs 280 lbs, and benches 350 lbs.  Division I lineman that he believed someday he would be competing with on average are 5 inches taller, 55 lbs heavier and have 175 % more upper body strength than this kid.  Needless to say, this kid would not fair well against this level of competition! 

There are certain levels of athleticism that are needed for success and allow the athlete to compete at higher levels.  These levels can be referred to as Standards of Competition.  These standards are further broken out for each sport / position and referred to as  Sports Performance Metrics or Performance Metrics. 

For some reason, this athlete, going into his senior year and his father were convinced that he was going to play Division I Football.  The image of this kids’ enthusiasm at the time and knowing his dream of never being able to play on a DI field saddens and angers me even many years later.   What was this kid’s high school coaches telling this athlete and his parents?  Did the coach understand performance metrics or use these metrics to assess his players potential for athletic success?  What were these trainers doing with this kid that they had been working with for years?  My guess is a lot of ladder and fast feet drills, exactly what a young athlete should NOT be focusing on in his initial athletic development.  I do not want to see another young athlete’s dreams shattered or kids taken advantage by so called “performance coaches” that had no idea what they are doing. 

My purpose is to help you understand exactly what these performance metrics are and why they are so important. 

Sports Performance Metrics, Why they really matter!

Let’s get started.  Do you know what Sports Performance Metrics you need to play at the next level?

  1. Size? 
    • Do you know what size you need to be to play your sport/position?
    • Do you know how tall the average Division 2 College baseball pitcher is?
  2. Speed? 
    • Do you know how fast you need to be to play your sport / position at the next level?
  3. Strength? 
    • Do you know how strong you need to be to play your sport / position at the next level?
    • Do you know what a high school basketball shooting guard should be bench pressing?
    • Do you know what your daughter should be squatting as a high school soccer player?
  4. Power? 
    • Do you know how explosive you need to be to play your sport / position at the next level?
    • Do you know what your vertical needs to be to be competitive as a running back in football?

Regardless of your sport or position, it is very important that you understand exactly how big, strong, fast and explosive your competition is athletically and where you need to be to play at higher levels.  

We do and it’s a roadmap for your athletes’ future success. 

Think of Sports Performance Metrics as Standardized Tests

One easy way to think of performance metrics is to think of it similar to an ACT or SAT test to get into college.  In general, the ACT and the SAT tests attempt to measure college readiness and predict future academic success. Performance metrics measure overall athleticism and attempt to measure an athlete’s current readiness and to predict future athletic success.  

Think of Performance Metrics as Standardized Tests

The bottom line is, at some point if an athlete wants to move on and compete at higher levels, they will be required to display various athletic qualities and be evaluated against their peers based on a standardized level to predict performance and athletic success. 

Performance Metrics Defined

Performance Metrics are the specific standards of various physical qualities needed for each sport of participation.  These include the physical qualities of strength, speed, agility and power that are necessary for optimal athletic performance. Performance Metrics are determined by a number of tests for athletic development.   Here are several examples of tests we utilize to determine overall performance Metrics:

  1. Anthropometric Data:  Height, Weight, Body Composition
  2. Strength:  Strength is ability to create force.  Strength tests tell us how much force you are able to create in both the upper body as well as the lower body. 
  3. Power:  Power is the ability to create maximal force in minimal time.  Power tests tell us how quickly you can generate force in both the upper body as well as the lower body.
  4. Speed:  Speed tests help us to determine acceleration, maximum running speed and speed endurance.
  5. Agility:  Agility tests measure an athlete’s ability to move quickly and change directions while maintaining control and balance. Good agility requires a combination of speed, balance, power, and coordination.  These are all components that we develop in the weight room.  

Sports Performance Metrics Do Four Things:

1. It gives us a baseline of where the athlete is currently at. 

This baseline gives you an objective look at where you are currently.  The baseline is then measured against  the performance metrics needed for your sport / position and gives a standard that you need to achieve in overall athleticism.

Think about this logically.  If an athlete possesses greater levels of strength, power, speed and agility vs. their opponent, with all else being equal, the athlete that possess these the higher metrics would automatically have a huge advantage over their opponent.

2. Once you achieve these standards, it allows helps you compete at higher levels against others athletically. 

There are specific standards set for each performance metric for each sport and position.  These metrics are necessary not only for the athlete to display optimal athletic performance, but to for the athlete to also participate on a “level playing field” when competing against the performance levels of their peers.

If you are playing against a team of athletes in your sport that are much stronger, faster and more explosive, wouldn’t you be at a huge physical disadvantage. 

If you have the skill set within your position and sport, which is necessary to advance to the next level of play, without improving your overall athleticism, you will not be able to compete at those next levels..

3. Performance data of an athlete is essential in order to identify individual training needs

After the athlete is tested on these performance measures, the results can be analyzed to determine areas of improvement and an objective, detailed training plan can be established. 

4. Injury Prevention

Not only will meeting these required athletic levels assist to ensure the athlete’s level of performance, but likely assist in the prevention of injury as well. An athlete that competes with any physical quality deficit will likely be at risk of injury when considering the incredible amount of stresses placed on that athlete during long practices, competition days and seasons.  This is especially true when facing stronger and more powerful opponents.

First Things First – Test, Then Develop a Plan

If you were sick and you went to a doctor, what is the first thing they would do?  They would do an overall assessment of your physical health and, if needed they would take tests and measure  those results against a specific standard. 

Sports Performance Metrics are Like a Doctors Physical
Sports Performance Metrics are Like a Doctors Physical

If you are an athlete and working with a competent Strength and Condition Coach the first stage in developing an Athletic Development Plan specific to your individual needs would be to do an overall assessment of where you are currently at athletically. 

These results are your initial baseline results and become your initial Performance Metrics. 

From here, these performance metrics can be assessed against specific standards for each various physical quality needed for each sport of participation. 

Finally, the results can be analyzed to identify individual training needs and to determine areas of improvement and an objective detailed training plan can be established. 


Conclusion

Sports Performance Metrics are one of the most important aspects of a long-term athletic development plan as they measure overall athleticism and attempt to measure an athlete’s current readiness and to predict future athletic success.   These performance measures are determined by a number of tests for athletic development including anthropometric data, strength, power, speed and agility.  Performance Metrics help us in four basic areas; (1) provides us a baseline of where you currently athleticism, (2) helps you compete at higher levels against others, (3) is essential in order to identify individual training needs and (4) helps prevent injuries when competing at higher levels.  It is imperative that you first assess yourself to establish your baseline of where you are at and then formulate a well-structured, Athletic Development Plan to help prepare yourself for what level you want to play at in the future. 

The biggest objection we hear from our athletes and parents is there coach or “trainer” told them they should not focus on getting stronger but instead faster.  This gives us a great opportunity to educate these athletes and parents on why NOT focusing on strength will limit their athletic potential.  As you will learn in future articles, strength is the basis for all athleticism .  We share with them in great detail all of the strength criteria their child needs to compete at the next level.  We can rattle off these figures off because over the years, we’ve developed an in-depth performance criteria data collection for all sports and positions with a high degree of success.     

Be the best you can be and put in the required time and effort to achieve your goals.  Understanding your performance metrics is the first step in achieving high level athleticism. 

At Competitive Edge APC, we have developed a systematic, scientific approach to training athletes!

Contact Us Now For Your Free Consultation

Matt Wattles, MS, Pn1

Matt is the head Strength & Conditioning Coach and owner of Competitive Edge - Athletic Performance Center. He has a masters degree in Exercise Science and over 25 years experience in strength and conditioning and nutrition as both an athlete and coach/trainer. Matt is a Past President of the American Society of Exercise Physiologist (ASEP), has published numerous articles in professional and research journals and been an invited presenter at national conferences throughout the country. He has founded two companies and owns 2 exercise and rehabilitation Patents. As a Strength coach, Matt has helped hundreds of athletes earn college scholarships as well as having worked with numerous professional and world class strength athletes. Matt's practical experience, theoretical knowledge and immense background puts him on par with the very best in the athletic performance world.  

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