Legal Disclaimer: Training to be a Poly Athlete would expose you to the risks that come with extreme sports. These can include broken bones, injuries, paralysis and a slight case of death. You want to be a poly athlete? You accept these risks, or turn around and do something else. This post is for entertainment purposes only. Always seek professional training for extreme sports or any outdoor activity. You – and only you – are responsible for your safety.
A poly athlete is someone who excels at more than one sport. Going by the Point Break definition, we mean a poly extreme athlete. That’s someone who can kayak, skydive, surf, snowboard, climb, BASE jump and generally do the stuff you think of when you Google the Ozaki 8.
But is that possible?
The short answer to that is yes. But there are limits to what the body can do – to say nothing of how long it would take you to master just one of the extreme sports we’re talking about. As Johnny Utah says, an extreme athlete could train his entire life just to try one ordeal from the Ozaki 8. That means the average dude, if he trained full time for at least a decade (and probably a lot longer), might master one extreme sport.
Yet, if you were a poly athlete, you might do two, three or, if you were a total ninja like Bodhi, even seven or eight. To that I say ‘Hogwash’ – however – it might be possible to get decent enough at two, or even three extreme sports to give yourself that totally sweet label.
You know the one I’m talking about. Here’s a hint…”Poly Athlete”.
Real Life Examples of Poly Athletes
Here’s why I say it might be possible to become a poly athlete: it’s been done before. We’ve seen this at least twice, outside of extreme sports, when two athletes played in the MLB and NFL respectively.
Bo Jackson – Bo Jackson may be one of the first true darlings of Nike’s marketing campaigns. He played for the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and California Angels between 1986 and 1994. What’s more impressive though is that he did it while playing in the NFL, during four of those same seasons, from 1987 to 1990. To date, he’s the only athlete to be named an All-Star in MLB and the NFL. Bo knows how to kick ass.
Deion Sanders – The only other true ‘poly athlete’ in the big four North American sports would be this guy. Like Jackson, Deion Sanders played NFL and did MLB too, with 14 seasons in the first and 9 in the second respectively. He also won two Super Bowl titles and made a World Series appearance in 1992. For your inner history buff, Sanders is the only athlete to appear in both a Super Bowl and World Series
As a rough guideline, about one in 200 North American baseball players will ever be drafted by the MLB. To make the NFL, the odds are even lower. Just 215 out of 100,000 American high school football players will ever make the big league. Just ask Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson how hard it is to get with the National Football League – although things worked out pretty good for wrestling fans as a result. Hot Dang I love his Toronto heel performance (“Hooray!! He Said TORONTO!!! YAAAAY!!!”).
I freakin love that guy.
Kidding aside, you’ve got a 0.25% chance of making MLB and 0.2% odds of getting into the NFL. To get into both, those odds are pretty much astronomically against you. Yet Jackson and Sanders did both.
My point? With even the most difficult sports, it is possible to be proficient at more than one. It’s not easy, but the precedent is there.
Real Poly Extreme Athletes
So we know it’s possible to be a poly athlete in the big sports. Now what about sports of the extreme variety? That’s also unlikely – but it’s not impossible. The following poly athletes are proof of that:
Dean Potter (Rock Climbing, Slack Lining, BASE Jumping, Wingsuit Flying)
Valery Rozov (Mountaineering, BASE Jumping, Wingsuit Flying)
Shaun White (Surfing, Snowboarding)
Kai Lenny (Surfing, Snowboarding)
Two things in particular jump out when you look at that list. First, board sports complement each other (yes, Shaun White really does surf on occasion and Kai Lenny is as epic on a snowboard as he is at Nazare.
Second, the first two on that list are no longer with us. Hence the danger of training to be a poly athlete – particularly with wing suits and BASE jumping, which I do not recommend.
A Poly Athlete Could Combine These Extreme Sports
Still reading? And you really, really wanna know how to become a poly athlete?
If you accept the risks, and understand the time, and energy (and certainly money) you would need to pull this off, these three extreme sports could theoretically work together. Note that some of these descriptions have affiliate links to Amazon and I may receive a commission if you buy a product through them.
1 – Climbing
This may be one of the best all-around extreme sports. You don’t need to be near a lake or ocean, or even rocks for that matter to get into climbing because, well, there’s probably a climbing wall at a gym near you. Plus, rock climbing to build muscle can get you ripped. Do it consistently and you may not have to set foot in a gym. Just strap on your La Sportiva climbing shoes and you’re pretty much good to get started.
Gear Needed: Climbing shoes, helmet, chalk, carabiners and rope. Start at a climbing gym and you may be able to rent most of this gear, although you may need your own shoes. La Sportiva Tarantula Laces are one of the best climbing shoes for beginners. Relax – they’re not big hairy spiders.
Read This: A beginner’s guide to Rock Climbing
Follow Her: Sasha DiGuilian, an American rock climber with over 30 first female ascents, and in 2012, became the first woman to climb grade 9A – a ‘Super Elite’ level that rules out pretty much everyone you’ve ever known.
2 – Surfing
OK Bodhi, I know you want to complete the Ozaki 8. That’s not gonna happen, and you’re probably not gonna hit up Nazare or ride the biggest wave ever surfed unless you’re Brazilian or your name is Garret McNamara.
Still, surfing is a highly enjoyable sport once you get the basics and, you know, can stand up on the board and all that. It’s also a perfect sport to learn as a poly athlete because board sports complement each other. Learn to surf and you can handle a snowboard like nobody’s business. Surfing is more difficult than snowboarding, but it’s a lot of fun too, and you won’t bruise your rear when you fall on it. There’s a silver lining to everything.
Season: Spring/Summer/Early Autumn
Gear Needed: A board, leash, board bag and towel. You may also need a wetsuit, depending where you surf. A piece of advice about surfing with a wetsuit: be sure the suit is skin-tight when you put it on, with no air pockets. Yup, it’s a bitch to put on, but enter the water with a wetsuit that has air pockets and the ocean will quickly find ways to torture you in ways you don’t want to know.
Read This: A beginner’s guide to Surfing
Follow Him: Kai Lenny, a Hawaiian surfer known for ‘powering’ up some of the biggest waves on the planet. If Conor McDavid was a surfer, it would look like this.
3 – Snowboarding
It’s not a coincidence why some surfers hit the slopes. Surfing is a natural gateway to snowboarding, assuming you Iive in an environment where you can do both. Snowboarding is the most seasonal of the three extreme sports we’ll discuss here, and you’ll need a ski pass as well. Still, it’s a world of fun, and a great skill to learn for that person who’s determined to be an extreme poly athlete.
You can do this with others too, and even make a vacation out of it.
Season: Winter/Early Spring
Gear Needed: A snowboard, bindings, boots, winter socks, helmet, pants, jacket, a mid layer and googles. Snowboarding gear is essential, especially when you consider you’ll be doing it in the dead of winter and, well, it’s kinda cold.
Read This: A beginner’s guide to Snowboarding
Follow Them: Chloe Kim – arguably the best-known snowboarder on the planet after her Gold Medal showing at the 2018 Winter Olympics and whose no stranger to Gold at the X Games either. Or, for a Canadian snowboarder who’s gonna do some damage in a few years, check out Eli Bouchard, cause in the battle for supremacy in winter sports between Canada and the USA, GO CANADA! 🇨🇦
6 Tips For Poly Athlete Training
OK tough guy. You know and accept the risks of extreme sports. You know it’s a total commitment of time and money. Yet here you are, hot dang it, and you wanna be a poly athlete. So how do you do that? Try this:
1 – Choose Extreme Sports That Go Together
We’ve already talked about this. Board sports like surfing and snowboarding complement each other well and you’ll learn techniques can apply to both sports. Climbing is another good choice, and so is kayaking.
2 – One Sport Per Season
Keep your poly athlete training at one sport per season. Try to do more than one and you’ll quickly burn out – to say nothing of injuries. Snowboarding in winter and surfing (or rock climbing) in the summer may be OK, but keep it at two sports each year.
3 – Hit the Gym During ‘Down Time’
You may only be able to hit the slope a few weeks each year. The same goes for surfing, where the perfect swells can be sporadic and/or you only have access to a good surfing spot for a limited time. It’s important to condition your body during this ‘down time’ with cardio, free weights and power moves like bench press, leg press and squats. This may reduce the chance of injuries later.
4 – Prepare Your Skills Before Each Season
Don’t go ‘rusty’ into each season. For example, hit the climbing wall a few times during winter if you’re going to combine snowboarding with rock climbing that year. Practice your techniques before the start of each season to the extent possible.
5 – Don’t Cram Between Seasons
We just covered that you should prepare physically and mentally before each season begins. But there are limits to what your body will do. Don’t try to climb Mt Everest two weeks after you’ve finished surfing for the year. Ease into it.
6 – Take a Season Off
At some point your body is going to say ‘No’. So listen to it. If you’ve spent a few months rock climbing and you don’t feel you can do another sport that year, respect that.
Remember, seek professional training in each of the extreme sports we’ve covered. Train hard, and do it with others. I’m not going to lie, being a poly athlete would push your mind and body to crazy new places, and there’s only so long you could keep up that level.
Still, you live once, and you’ve clearly seen Point Break and you want to know if it’s possible to become a poly athlete. The answer to that question: yes, it’s possible, at two to three extreme sports, with one-time experiences like skydiving thrown in at various points in your life for good measure. You’re not going to complete the Ozaki 8, but you might live at a higher level, if only for a short time.
Further Reading: https://www.stack.com/a/6-rules-for-multi-sport-success