Athleticism is a hard-to-articulate term. EndZone Athletics (Washington, US) does a great job at writing about athleticism:
Athleticism can be defined as, "the ability to use a variety of motor abilities (strength, power, speed, agility, coordination, stability, balance, etc.) to effectively and efficiently perform a wide variety of sporting actions." Less complicated than it sounds, this definition simply means that being a great athlete requires possessing a variety of athletic qualities (motor abilities) and being able to use them effectively to perform sporting actions. Although specific "sporting actions" are different for each particular sport, most sports also have many common sporting actions required such as sprinting, changing direction, and jumping. The difference between an average athlete and a great athlete is the ability to perform these things effectively, efficiently, and consistently.
One of the many benefits of functional fitness (specifically CrossFit), is that proper programming develops athleticism in its participants.
Programming includes the scheduling, selection of movements, formatting, repetition or round count, weight/load selection, and combining of exercises into a structured PROGRAM. Good programming is not randomized, though it can appear so. It does however, demonstrate variety. Among DynaMax's ten listed traits of physical fitness (cardio-respiratory endurance, power, speed, strength, stamina, balance, agility, coordination, accuracy, flexibility), some are definitely more "athletic" than others. These are the neurological traits: balance, agility, coordination, accuracy, speed. Other athlectic traits not listed by DynaMax include: stability, rhythm, and reaction. (For more on these skills, read What is Fitness.)
The following are some of the exercises and movements I believe to develop broad athleticism. They make extra demands on the neurological system, not just the physical makeup of the musculature. These movements cannot be completed simply by brute strength or endurance. They require a technical aspect.
- Turkish GetUps
- Hanging Burpee
- Clean and Jerk
- Kettlebell Figure-8-to-a-Hold (and a Press)
- Wall Balls
- Sumo Deadlift High Pull (SDLHP)
- Dot Drill
- Ring Pushups
- Double Unders jumprope
Do all of these movements on a regular basis, even though some do not fit the CrossFit tests of <Measurable-Observable-Repeatable> nor the <Large loads, Long distances, Quickly>. At hte very minimum, do some during warmup sessions. These above listed movements and exercises cause neurological adaptations, honing the athletic traits of balance, accuracy, agility, coordination, and accuracy. You will feel more "athletic" as you edge closer and closer to perfection with these drills.