Can you be World Class at any sport: Born with Talent or Practice Makes Perfect?

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Can you be World Class at any sport: Born with Talent or Practice Makes Perfect?

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Can you be World Class at any sport: Born with Talent or Practice Makes Perfect? Empty Can you be World Class at any sport: Born with Talent or Practice Makes Perfect?

Post by TwisT on Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:44 pm

Can you be a great in any sport you try your hand at if you are dedicated enough? Or, unless you are blessed from birth with Messi's feet, Nadal's arms, or Taylor's hands, you will never truly make it?

That is the question I put to you guys and gals. Which sports do you need a natural talent at, or which sports, if you practice hard enough, can you rise to the top of the pile?

Let’s put it in perspective. Most of the sports on the list I have never tried before. But who’s to say that I wasn't born with a natural talent in squash, or lacrosse or even trampolining? Because I have never tried, and probably never will, I will never know.

On the other hand, I like playing Snooker and I am of an average level. However, if I quit my job, and dedicated every waking moment to the sport, could I become a future World Champion?

You can vote for either answer on the 24 sports I have listed (apologies if I have missed your favourites).

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Post by Scottrf on Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:02 pm

I guess a lot of the athletic sports you need to be born with a certain something (fast twitch muscle fibers, right build etc), but the technical sports 'just' require practice. Too much of a ballache to vote on every sport though.

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Post by FIFA Diva on Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:12 pm

Natural talent takes you so far but you need to put the work in to stay ahead of the rivals. An can I say I am against the saying "Practise makes perfect" no it does not make you perfect it makes you better.

If you look at the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney and so on all these players are gifted from a young age but to say they are good because of natural talent is a smack on the face. These guys have worked extremley hard to get to where they are but you do need natural talent.
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Post by Adam D on Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:16 pm

Justin Lee Collins tried to make it as a pro bowler and darts player - he sucked at both after several weeks of dedication.

I reckon I could be a great darts player if I practised (and owned a dart board)

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Post by TwisT on Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:45 pm

The more I think about it the more I think, maybe some of us are gods at sports we would never have thought of.

So for instance (and no disrespect for any players) people who play squash or badminton say have to have been introduced to it at an early age because it isn't the most well known of sports. So some of us who weren't introduced to it, might have a wicked forearm smash badminton shot (if that is a move) and we would never know!

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Post by compelling and rich on Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:51 pm

as others have said talent alone will get you nowhere, even the messi's would have worked hard everyday to become the talent he is today. there are certain sports that will be much easier to master with practice though. something like darts you dont need that much natural talent where as to become 100m world champ you clearly do, dont think we will ever see a white hundred metre champ again and thats not just because the black sprinters work harder.

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Post by RDuncan8 on Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:07 am

Basketball you need to have height. If you count height as talent. You could be awesome but if you are 5ft 3 then the game might pass you by.

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Post by hugehandoff on Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:09 am

Practice is the main ingredient in making a world class athlete in any sport. Obviously if you don't have the talent in the first place you won't get there, but to become world class it is dedicated practice that elevates you to a higher plane. Matthew Syed, Times journalist and ex table tennis star, has written a book on this subject called "Bounce" which is very good if you are interested in this sort of thing.

I really don't think there are many world class sporting stars who have relied mostly on talent. Phil Taylor, Jonny Wilkinson, Dan Carter, Nadal etc etc have the talent but then work very very hard at getting the best out of themselves.

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Post by Guest on Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:15 am

It's a good question.

How many more world championships would Ronnie O'Sullivan had won had he applied himself better over the years? Would Peter Ebdon or Graeme Dott have won a world title without such a workmanlike ethic?
But then Stephen Hendry, to me, appeared to be a mixture of the two hence the seven championships.

Look at the Williams sisters. Are they naturally gifted tennis players or is it totally down to their junior years when their father almost slaved them to perfection?

Padriag Harrington admitted it was hard work alone that led him to his three majors whereas Lee Westwood who is regarded as a naturally gifted golfer is yet to win one.

With some sports I do wonder how much of it is a mental issue?

A mate of mine has really gotten into his darts big time and practices for three or four hours a day and looks good in his spare room yet when he enters local tournaments he's lucky to reach the third round.

He blames his nerves which could be true but is controlling your nerves a natural gift in itself?

Great talking point though!

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Post by TwisT on Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:20 am

FreekShow wrote:
He blames his nerves which could be true but is controlling your nerves a natural gift in itself?

Controlling your nerves and, the other side of the coin, having a lot of self confidence, must help

That said, if I told you I was World Champion at Tiddlywinks, it is not exactly something to shout about or having a massive ego for.

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Post by dummy_half on Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:25 am

To be great (rather than just good) at any sport, you need a certain amount of natural ability - and I include the pure skill sports like snooker or darts in this. Some people are just blessed with the ability to control a motion (delivering a cue or throwing a dart, hitting or kicking a ball) with greater accuracy and repeatability than others, and only some of those are born with the mental calmness to be able to maintain this repeatability under the immense pressure of a top sporting situation.

Practice will make you better, regardless of your initial level, but no matter how much I practice pool or snooker I'll never be as comfortable or consistent with a cue in my hand as Stephen Hendry was even without practice. However, the vast majority of champions in any sport today have to have a dedication to training that most of us don't have.

The genetic and environmental issues in pre-determinng sporting ability is an interesting can of worms. I'm not as convinced there will never be a white sprint champion again, as there is always a possibilty of a freak (i.e. someone with a natural talent far out-weighing their peers) in a population - Seb Coe was a freak in that he was faster than even the majority of the current East African middle distance runners of today, as is Bolt (no one that tall should have that cadence).

However, the history of sprinting in the last 50+ years strongly suggests that having west African ancestry is advantageous for the very quickest sprinters - not that all people of this ancestry are fast, but that the very quickest ones just have something (higher proportion of super-fast twitch muscle fibres than occur for other groups perhaps?) that gives them the edge at the elite end of the sport.

Longer distance running is a bit more complex, in that there seem to be both some genetic component (members one tribe from the Kenyan / Ethiopian brder dominates to a silly extent), but there is also a preference for runners who were born and live at altitude, because they develop physilogical advantages through this (similarly with cycling a few years ago, that a number of very successful riders were from Colombia and were brought up at altitude).

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Post by MustPuttBetter on Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:49 am

VivaPaulScholes wrote:Natu An can I say I am against the saying "Practise makes perfect" no it does not make you perfect it makes you better.

More and more these days you here coaches and pundits saying 'practise makes permanent' which is probably a more accurate phrase
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Post by QuickBall on Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:02 am

Some people are naturally gifted who without practise are good players; but need practise to be great.
While others are just your average Joe that need practise to become good players.
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Post by SirJohnnyEnglish on Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:09 am

Yeah MPB I competed in and now coach Karate and the "Practise makes Permanent" is a well used catch phrase in our club.

Sometimes its not down to your own natural ability or determination but that of yours coach. I have problems with both my hips and legs which should have prevented me from competing to any decent standard. But due to my coach, whom is a fantastic and very dedicated man and my own hardwork, I was able to overcome this and compete at a fairly high standard ( I won All Irelands and National leagues as well as representing Ireland internationally on a hand full of occassions)

If I had gone to another coach with less of an understanding of my issues and less dedication ( I have seen many such coaches over the years) to help me improve I would never have got as far as I did.

Sometimes its down to the people around you as much as it is down to yourself

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Post by Thomond on Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:35 am

Four four two magazine did a great article in their magazine about this topic a few months ago,not sure if the full article is here but: http://au.fourfourtwo.com/Features/6785,the-talent-myth.aspx

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Post by beshocked on Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:31 am

Is mental strength a talent?

E.g. I have heard that Bopara is supposedly one of the most naturally talented cricketers around. He hasn't really been that successful at international level. He and Alastair Cook are a very similar age. Alastair Cook is obviously having a very successful cricket career for England currently.

Cook doesn't score as fluently or beautifully as other players but he racks up the runs.Why? It's because he has the mental strength and determination.

To succeed in sport you need that steel and believe to reach the summit. Is it something you can work on? Quite possibly.

A lesser player in any sport can surpass someone with born talent. It is all about how people maximise their talent.

Also talent is so broad - Andy Roddick is known for his big serving in tennis,David Beckham for his free kicks.

In most sports you need high levels of fitness which take a lot of hard work.

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Post by Guest on Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:07 am

Can a player/sports person's natural ability actually count against him/her?

Look at football for example, how many players have not won more international caps than they should have due to a coach's inability to find a way to blend that talent into a team system? Joe Cole anyone....


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Post by Scottrf on Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:12 am

FreekShow wrote:Can a player/sports person's natural ability actually count against him/her?

Look at football for example, how many players have not won more international caps than they should have due to a coach's inability to find a way to blend that talent into a team system? Joe Cole anyone....

Isn't part of your talent the ability to work well in a team?

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Post by Guest on Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:33 am

Scottrf wrote:
FreekShow wrote:Can a player/sports person's natural ability actually count against him/her?

Look at football for example, how many players have not won more international caps than they should have due to a coach's inability to find a way to blend that talent into a team system? Joe Cole anyone....

Isn't part of your talent the ability to work well in a team?

It's a tough one Scott. Do you need genuine talent to be disciplined? Didier Deschamps or Claude Makelele could have probably slotted into any team in world football due to their disciplined approach to the game but neither were what you'd call great talents as such but they were great 'workers'.


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Post by JohnnyH on Sat Aug 27, 2011 5:09 am

Fascinating topic.....

Just to make it more interesting, I find it very frustating, for me, that Rafael Nadal, a truly superb left handed tennis player, No. 2 in the world, was No. 1 until recently, is actually RIGHT handed....kin ell, how good COULD he have been...lol

John

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Post by lightsout on Sat Aug 27, 2011 5:16 am

For example : Floyd Mayweather says he's 'god gifted' and I believe he is, but he's in the Gym everyday just to make sure, imo you can get in the top 100 or so on training alone but to be one of the top 20 or so you need to be 'god gifted' and have the best training as well/dedication etc etc. Another boxer: Paul Williams manages to fight at WW and MW and is 6'1" how does he do it I mean get down to 10 stone odd and still have the strength and stamina needed to campaign at this level is incredible for someone of his stature, gives him a great advantage, so natural attributes and training are obviously the required combination here to make it to the top.

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Post by welshy824 on Sat Aug 27, 2011 5:54 am

its both, just using it at my level now of youth team at rugby union, we had a guy come in a few seasons back only messed about with a rugby ball at the park and his first game our coach decided to make him play fly half and he was unbelievable he just had this talent- same with a friend who is in the lecister acadamey currently however although my mate is naturally talented you need commitment- he goes to the gym almost every day, when he was 10 his dad made him do drills in his garden and it has paid off.

also told by on of the dietritions that most of the players in international rugby arent there because they are the best (even though they are sublimely talented) but because they sacrifice things and made their sport the priority.

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Post by ryan86 on Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:43 am

I'd say with some of the simplest, most natural events their appears to be a distinct type that gives you a physical advantage. You may not be born with the ability to become a world champion, but you are given a headstart.

I also believe that if you are blessed with the ability not to crumble under mental pressure, something that I'm not sure is entirely possible to wire into or out of someone, you are born with a helpful tool.

How often does the match point game at tennis turn into a struggle or the final holes of a golf major turn into a farce.

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Post by TwisT on Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:51 pm

ryan86 wrote:I'd say with some of the simplest, most natural events their appears to be a distinct type that gives you a physical advantage. You may not be born with the ability to become a world champion, but you are given a headstart.

I also believe that if you are blessed with the ability not to crumble under mental pressure, something that I'm not sure is entirely possible to wire into or out of someone, you are born with a helpful tool.

How often does the match point game at tennis turn into a struggle or the final holes of a golf major turn into a farce.

I can think of Van de Velde at the Open a few years back. He was 3-4 shots in front by the last hole and he didn't have to take any risks. Ended up in the stream with his socks off.

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Post by dummy_half on Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:01 am

"I also believe that if you are blessed with the ability not to crumble under mental pressure, something that I'm not sure is entirely possible to wire into or out of someone, you are born with a helpful tool."

This raises a further interesting point, that confidence plays a big part in 'mental strength'. Taking men's tennis as the example, a few years ago Federer was virtually unbeatable and was considered a great closer out of matches (aided by having a bit of the hex over all his opponents bar Nadal), but over the last couple of seasons he has lost a few matches from apparently winning positions. By contrast, Djokovic was considered a great talent but not a great tournament winner, with his mental strength being perhap the biggest question mark. This year he's lost only a handful of matches and won 3 grand slams and 5 Masters series events. The big difference - self confidence.

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Post by mystiroakey on Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:20 am

you have to born with talent, but you also need to practise-(that goes for everything) not sure what this poll is about

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Post by CFCNick on Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:15 am

All the ones that need sharp reactions like Squash, Race driving, Ice Hockey, etc. I went with born with talent.

Football, Snooker, Darts, Tennis, etc. practise.

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Post by mystiroakey on Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:35 am

manning i dont buy that.

putting squash with talent and tennis with practise doesnt compute.

You have linked talent with reactions.

surely you could also link talent with the ability to have a competitive edge, hand eye, ability to concentrate on your sport when everyone else around you is having fun

To reach the top at anything you need talent and you need to practise hard.

Most sporstman(when it comes to pohysical sports anyway) could play any choosen sport at a high level. some one who peaked at tennis could have also peaked at squash, some one who peaked at football could have also peaked at hockey, etc, etc

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