What Makes A Good Athlete ?

Updated: April 16, 2014

The most common question we get asked at Athletic Standard is, “What is a good ASI score for an athlete”?

Our response is always the same: “Compared to whom?” The fact is, every athlete is different, and thus his or her digital signature is unique. Instead of thinking of athleticism as a single number, think of it as a bundle of many attributes. Every sport ( position in a sport) possesses a set of desirable physical traits and characteristics that give athletes an advantage.

How sports are classified is similar to how cars are classified in racing. Take the follow scenario as an example.   Select your class:


Which is better, a Subaru WRX or an Audi R8?

A class


Both vehicles have lots of horsepower; however, the Audi 8 is faster and the Subaru WRX has suspension that can handle anything. Which is better depends on the type of competition. If it’s a circuit track race, the Audi R8 is better; if it’s an off road course, the WRX is the clear favorite.

How This Applies To Athletes

This type of classification happens every day in individual sports such as track and field. In the discus, you might have the over-40 m class and the under-40 m class. Within those classes, it’s a toss-up who wins because the field has been narrowed and the playing field leveled. The physical characteristics of a varsity athlete compared to an average student are light years apart, but among their peers, they are average.

hs discus

elite athlete

Two great athletes, two completely different classes

Because of the nature of team sports, this stratification of talent isn’t always as apparent as in individual sports. Because athletes’ success is judged by a combination of factors that are measured in points and wins and losses, their physicality can often be overlooked. However, the data is pretty clear: at every level of competition, the speed and power production requirements become greater and greater. 

Texas Rangers 2009 Organization

Texas Rangers

While there is some overlap, there is a clear upward trend within the organization.

The Genetic Lottery

The goal of all athletes is to try and position themselves at the top of their class. Unfortunately, we are all limited by the DNA we received from our parents, and there is nothing that can change this fact. Where you fall in the genetic lottery is out of your control. However, for the majority of athletes, an effective strength and conditioning program will maximize their genetic potential. Nevertheless, at the elite level of competition, there is a predetermined mold you must fit into in order to continue your career.

Shaq's Jockey Days

Shaq would have never made it as jockey; good thing he wanted to play in the NBA

A college strength coach once told me about a recent exchange he had had with an athlete, which went something like this:

Athlete: Coach, can you make me fast?

Coach: No.

Athlete: Why not?

Coach: I can only make you faster-ER or strong-ER. You are either born fast or slow, so I can’t help you with that.

This conversation is interesting because if you are one of the many who sit on the bubble of high school to college or college to pro athletics, what you do in the weight room may determine your future.

Is All Hope Lost?

No! In fact, most people will never become professional athletes, and the amateur sport’s world is a wide-open opportunity. Attaining an ASI score of 1000 points (for males) or 900 (for females) is a good rule of thumb for any high school athlete and is attainable for almost everyone. Professional athletes and high level college players may climb well into the 2,000′s and will average around 1500-1700′s. Depending on your sport of choice, these scores will put you in the middle of the pack of the athletes you will compete against.

Sometimes athletes who are average in one sport may transfer over and become instant superstars in another. It’s athletes like Lolo Jones, Daniel Adongo, and Carlin Isles who prove that the 10,000 hour rule is largely position specific.

So Get To The Numbers!

Trying to figure out what class you fall in is no easy task. However, after directly testing over 30,000 athletes and analyzing the records of decades of professional athletes, these are some of our findings:

ASI Scale

Things To Consider

  1. Keep training and always strive to be the best in your class. You can never be too athletic.
  2. Attributes such as height and wingspan typically have a positive or negative skew, i.e., a seven- foot class of basketball players would be different from an under six-foot-two-inch guard class.
  3. The typical growth of an athlete’s ASI is round 100–150 points per annum. Novice athletes who are new to training should see even greater gains when first starting a strength and conditioning program.
  4. The sport that you love may not be the sport for you. Sometimes great athletes’ careers can be shortened prematurely, especially in height-dependent sports. Look to sports that leverage your strengths and give you the greatest chance of success.


  1. john

    May 1, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Hi I am 16 years old and play div 2 highschool basketball and i am 6’2 and weigh 145 pounds. I was just wondering what an average asi score is for my age group. Also do you guys have any tips to increase my vertical?

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