The Athlete's Journey. Part 3: The "Proficient"


In Part 3 of this 4 part series, we've attempted to dissect the different phases on the journey to fitness. From the beginner or novice, to the intermediate or 'conventionalist', and now on to the advanced or what we'll call the 'proficient'.


Why all these extra names? Why not just say beginner, intermediate, advanced? Well, a little bit is just novelty but within those synonyms they provide a richer description into the phase. Being proficient carries a different 'air' then advanced and we think that's an important distinction. 


Most want to point to an advancement in skill and a preponderance on 'sexier' movement. While it should be true that the proficient athlete should have a high bodyweight to deadlift ratio and capacity to do a muscle up and press to handstand, maybe a more important attribute is their experience.


As a conventional athlete, they had all the same techniques that they do now, but what they possess that they hadn’t previously is 1000’s of additional reps, psychology, and the ability to be analytical. The differences between conventional and proficient:

  • The proficient is faster and more efficient, and most importantly, they can tell you how he/she did just that.

  • The proficient has spent so many hours honing position & executing that they aren’t as focused on their own development; they have organized the circuits. Instead, they spend most of their time “giving back” in the form of helping others further back on the journey.

  • At this point, they coach themselves as much as the lead instructor/coach does. This doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate an extra set of eyes or an on-looker with a lower heart rate, it’s just that the concepts are now ingrained and they feel it when they are out of position or when they made a pacing or tactical error.

  • Someone proficient will reflect on training and problem solving on how to improve, with little help.

It is unremarkable for athletes who have become conventional to search for advanced or new moves, and get off track. This will only lead down a road where they know half of every position, though. We know great athletes that never actually improved past one or two impressive feats. Their experience earned them a few great performances, but their overall skill was not in a place to sustain them long term. We don't want to be the conventional athlete who never became proficient because we lacked the concepts, psychology, and philosophy: 

  • The concepts: Virtuosity of position; doing the common, uncommonly well. 

  • The psychology: if you know you can go, you don't have to prove that you can go...all the time.

  • The philosophy: never do anything today that would keep you from training tomorrow

As all good things must come to an end, we'll bring this series to a close next week as we discuss the 4th and special category: the beat up (aka pre-injured or injured)