Are Great Athletes Born or Made?

There are many trainers that boast of their accomplishments with professional and elite athletes. They wear it like a badge of honour on their sleeve. Sure, it’s great for marketing purposes, but how much of the training truly contributes to an athlete’s success?

Here’s an excerpt from Andersen & Aagaard, 2010 that puts things into perspective:

When watching athletes in action, it is obvious even for the untrained eye that some athletes are “faster” or more “explosive” than others. Likewise, it is evident that some athletes manage to perform certain movements quicker than others. No doubt much of this can be attributed to superior technical skills achieved through many hours of practice, but any coach will tell you that “fast” and “explosive” are qualities the athlete had already before he or she was molded through endless training sessions; he/she had “talent.” Thus, both coaches and scientists know that it is not possible to turn a donkey into a racehorse by means of exercise and training. Hard work will, at the most, turn the donkey into a fast and explosive donkey!

And here’s what Al Vermeil, one of the most successful strength and conditioning coaches of all time, had to say during an interview with the NSCA:

  • Athletes that are successful are good athletes. If they can’t play the sport, they won’t succeed. They require good genetics and good instinct.
  • No strength coach makes an athlete. Their mom and dad made them! If anything, genetically-gifted athletes have made up for the sins of a poor program.
  • Strength coaches are just doing their job like any other coach. Don’t let your ego get in the way and never get too impressed with yourself.
  • Strength and conditioning is only one facet of why you win. You need good owners, good coaches, good scouts… and good players will make up the deficiencies in the other areas.
  • A strength and conditioning coach is only part of the process!
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