Tomato/Tomahto? Not so much. Many times, two words can be used interchangeably to describe the same thing in this crazy language of ours. I’m not here to give a lecture on proper English, don’t worry, however I am here to explain how two words I hear every day mean very different things and should not be confused for the other.
Fitness and performance are oh-so-loosely thrown around to appeal to the consumer, but I’m here to tell you there is a difference! Although we often see a positive correlation between high levels of fitness and improved performance, an athlete’s level of performance “on the playing field” does not directly reflect their level of fitness, and an athlete’s fitness level will not always directly reflect their potential levels of performance in competition.
Performance training is carried out with the purpose of eliciting a particular physiological response as a result of their training. This type of training can in turn translate to improved levels of overall fitness, but the goal of the training is not to improve physical appearance, and overall health and wellness, as much as it is focused on improving physical function, strength, speed, power, and connecting the neurological dots to improve the athlete’s ability to perform the demands of their sport at a high level.
The definition of fitness is stated as the condition of being physically fit and healthy. These are very important components for the general population, as well as any athlete looking to achieve high levels of performance. What throws us for a loop however is that we can think of countless high performing athletes (particularly in golf) who are not so physically fit; John Daly often comes to mind! These athletes often still show an ability to perform the necessary physical demands of the sport (mobility, stability, rotation, etc.) at a high level, and one would think that improving their overall fitness levels would certainly contribute to more consistently finishing at the top of the leaderboard.
Athletic performance, then, has been classified as the “carrying out of specific physical routines or procedures by one who is trained or skilled in physical activity. Performance is influenced by a combination of physiological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors.” With that said, fitness and performance certainly go hand in hand, however we must acknowledge there is a difference between them, and to me it is seen more so in the “why” than in the “what” or “how”.
Why train to improve performance? The answer to this one isn’t difficult, to be better than your competition! Why train for fitness? To improve your overall levels of health and well-being. There isn’t a right or wrong answer here, just make sure you understand why you are training the way you are to make sure you set yourself up for success on the golf course next season and for seasons to come.
See you in the Zone!