Which athletic skill is most important? Speed, agility, balance, coordination, strength, power, flexibility? It seems like a simple question, but there really isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all answer. Why, you ask? Because it all depends on the sport. Actually, even within the same sport it can depend on the particular position of the player. If I’m looking at football lineman, I probably place more value on strength and power. What about football skill position players? Maybe speed, agility, and some power. A gymnast needs flexibility, balance, and coordination. But even if we try to pick just a few key areas to focus on, doesn’t that often leave us missing a few. Would it help a football lineman to have some flexibility (think about hip mobility and the ability to get low)? While a lineman is never going to run a 4.4 sec forty yard dash, doesn’t it still help him to be faster than other similar players? What about the gymnast. If we limit our development to flexibility, coordination, and balance, aren’t we missing the strength necessary to perform certain movements? Is it possible that all of these skills are linked together and contribute to athletic success in many different sports?
You see, each sport has different demands and necessities for it’s athletes. Even within a sport, there can be different demands based on the position a player plays. Even with the different demands, there is often a lot of crossover. Just like in the examples above, many athletes do need some development in many or all of the athletic skill areas. While a basketball player won’t ever have to run 40 yards, speed is still beneficial to have on the court. While a volleyball player doesn’t have the same agility needs as a soccer player, it still makes them better if they develop the skill.
So, what is the most important skill? ALL OF THEM!!! You have to design training based on the individual athlete and the demands of the sport, but in almost all cases you should never eliminate any element of overall skill development. You should base your drills and emphasis on the athlete’s sport and the it’s requirements. However, remember that we are trying to develop better athletes. Therefore, we should work to develop the total athlete and all of their skills.