Here’s a few images to ponder.  Something very similar to this was shared with a group chat that I was in several years ago, so I re-created some poor versions of them on Paint since I couldn’t find the originals.

My interpretation of this “Performance Pyramid” is that the optimal athlete/mover trains with the intent to develop the following abilities (in order of importance):

  1. Foundation of Strength (primarily strength-endurance and quality of movement in areas such as squatting, stepping, lunging, pressing, reaching, etc.)
  2. Functional Movement (performance level of foundational movements, such as how much output/force is produced in a squat, 40-yard-dash time, vertical jump, etc.)
  3. Skill (“knack” or actual ability to perform a skill or sport)
Sports Performance Pyramid
Optimal – Skill built upon large foundation of functional movement and even larger base of foundation strength.  Most likely to perform a skill safely and to be able to dedicate as much time as possible to train skill to reach elite levels.
Sports Performance Pyramid Skill
Very skilled, poor foundation – Highly developed amount of skill built upon a very poor athletic base.  Most likely to suffer injuries due to lack of strength endurance, not training to correct imbalances caused by performing skill, etc.  (Sadly is very common due to the “private lesson” and “travel team” epidemic in youth sports, as we’re seeing highly skilled but un-athletic children.
SPM Func
Skilled and able to move functionally, but poor foundation – Highly skilled and able to perform at a high level in performance-based tests of maximal strength, but very low levels of foundational strength/strength-endurance.  Injury is highly likely and is usually surprising since the athlete “looks” strong, but actually just functions well despite poor base/foundation.
SPM No Skill
Great foundation and functional movement, no skill – Me at basketball.  A coach’s dream.  Hard worker, strong, fast, resilient, excellent at picking up towels and handing out waters to the taller and more skilled players.  Could safely spend hours upon hours practicing to develop the skills required to perform sport at elite level (if I wasn’t 5’8″).