What performance characteristics determine elite versus nonelite athletes in the same sport?

Sports Health. 2013 Nov;5(6):542-7. doi: 10.1177/1941738113479763.


Context: There are significant data comparing elite and nonelite athletes in anaerobic field and court sports as well as endurance sports. This review delineates specific performance characteristics in the elite athlete and may help guide rehabilitation.

Evidence acquisition: A Medline search from April 1982 to April 2012 was undertaken for articles written in English. Additional references were accrued from reference lists of research articles.

Results: In the anaerobic athlete, maximal power production was consistently correlated to elite performance. Elite performance in the endurance athlete is more ambiguous, however, and appears to be related to the dependent variable investigated in each individual study.

Conclusion: In anaerobic field and court sport athletes, maximal power output is most predictive of elite performance. In the endurance athlete, however, it is not as clear. Elite endurance athletes consistently test higher than nonelite athletes in running economy, anaerobic threshold, and VO2max.

Keywords: elite versus nonelite athlete; endurance athlete; performance characteristics.