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Joe Lauzon and Elite Athleticism

Joe Lauzon is an MMA fighter in the UFC who has battled some of the top 155lbs fighters in the world, like Kenny Florian. After his last loss, he moved to Hilo, Hawaii to train with B.J. Penn, the UFC Champion at 155lbs. Here is Lauzon’s frank discussion of his training:

I have really learned a lot of things NOT to do. Apparently I am not much of an athlete because I do pretty much every activity with the worst form they have ever seen. I have horrible flexibility and I am just a nightmare. As Marv put it though: “Imagine what you will be able to do when you become a real athlete.” I guess that just means I have a lot of room for improvement, right? I have made good improvements compared to how I started out though. I will have a LOT of time to improve on things before August rolls around anyways.”

If a professional MMA fighter with great Brazilian JuiJitsu can make it to a point where he was 1-2 wins away from a title fight while being terrible athletically, it happens in other sports too. Too many high school players equate dunking with being athletic, so players and coaches do not work on overall athleticism.

I went to observe and critique a local trainer this weekend. As we were talking, I referred to a taller player in his workout. I told the trainer that he can yell and yell at the player to get lower in ball handling and footwork drills, but it’s not going to happen until he improves his dynamic flexibility. The player is really tight in his hips and has poor core strength. He physically cannot do what the trainer asks, and it has nothing to do with attitude, understanding or unwillingness. Before he can make a giant improvement in his skills, he needs to address the athletic deficiencies.

Beyond learning about athleticism, Lauzon illustrates an important point for aspiring athletes. He made a change to continue his improvement. He is not doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. He is not resting on his strengths. He found a new way to challenge himself in an effort to maximize his talents.

Too many players are satisfied with pretty good. If you want to be great, doing what you did to be pretty good is not enough. You have to challenge yourself to move past that point. Training with a world champion is one way to step up your game to the next level:

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