The Performance Pyramid

The aim is to achieve a well balanced pyramid which displays the athlete to be one that moves well, performs well and can execute their sport to their optimum level.

The analogy of building a house can be applied here. To build a strong house one must start with a proper foundation in order to build a house which structurally sound and one that will last.

The performance pyramid has 3 tiers…

Tier 1 represents movement.

This is the foundation which represents our ability to move well without limitations and with balance. This encompasses our fundamental movement patterns. These patterns include being well balanced, having static and dynamic stability, showing full range of motion, good movement control and body awareness, and good posture.

Tier 2 represents performance.

This is the ability to sustain quality of movement and repeated work without fatigue. This can be defined as gross athleticism which looks at measurable factors in movement, such as strength, power, and endurance.

Tier 3 is represents skill.

This is the sport specific skill which looks at how well you perform your particular sport skill, such as a perfecting the forehand, kicking a football, or even striking controlled punches. This also looks at the competition statistics and any specific testing relative to that sport.

Performance is not only related to elite athletes but can also apply to anyone looking to engage in improving their cardiovascular capacity. Applying the performance pyramid can serve as a guide to determine how well you move and help to determine the right exercise goals.

The “Ideal” Athlete - Balanced

the- balanced-performance-pyramid-southfields-physiotherapy

The first pyramid is the “ideal” pyramid, which represents a type of athlete whose movement patterns, movement efficiency, and sports skills are balanced and optimal.

This does not mean that the athlete cannot improve; however, any improvement should not upset the balance and of the performance pyramid.

This athlete possesses the ability to explore full range of movement, demonstrating body control, and movement awareness in numerous positions.

By having a broad base at the bottom, this athlete builds potential for strength and power output and reduces the risk of injuries. Since the second tier is supported by a strong base, it is able to support the third tier which enables the client to transfer the power and strength to the sport skill.

The “Over-powered” Athlete


The second pyramid demonstrates athletes their ability to generate power and strength exceeds their ability to move freely. 

This type of athlete could be one who focuses predominantly on strength  and  excludes other types of training such as dynamic flexibility and stability training.

Their ability to move freely in simple and basic positions is limited by poor flexibility and stability in some movement patterns.

The focus for this athlete should be to improve movement competency while maintaining their current level of power.

This pyramid represents the athlete who scores poorly on mobility and stability tests, but will show a high level of competency in performance ability and skill level. 

This athlete would greatly benefit from yoga, Pilates functional training, and tai chi.

The “Under-Powered” Athlete


The third pyramid represents athletes who have excellent freedom of movement, but whose performance efficiency is poor and could be improved.

This type of athlete could be one that focuses predominantly on flexibility such as yoga or Pilates as these type of activities generally require little degree of power and ground-reaction forces.

This athlete excludes other types of training such as stability, strength and performance improvement.

The focus of this athlete should be aimed at including training and conditioning that would improve power and strength without negatively affecting the integrity of their movement patterns.

This athlete would benefit greatly from power training, plyometrics, and /or weight training while maintaining the same level of fundamental movement, speed, agility, and endurance.

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