Make-up blog for 3/3/20
This week’s chapter of The Sports Gene focused on the “10,000 hours rule”, or the idea that a person can become an elite athlete by deliberately practicing their sport over thousands of hours. The main example that was looked at was the case of high jumper, Stefan Holm, who is one of the top high jumpers in the world despite the disadvantage of having a shorter height. He started training from a very young age and follows a very specific training plan which has led him to success in the sport. Comparatively, the book looked at another high jumper, Donald Thomas, who picked up the sport later in life and was not as trained in the technicalities of high jumping.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the athletes that is interesting is the achilles tendon in each of them. When Holm’s achilles was studied, they found that it had become so stiff over time that it required quite a bit of force to bend it, making it act as a spring. This is a characteristic that was developed over time with training. Thomas, on the other hand had a very long achilles relative to his height which is something that cannot be developed over time. It is interesting to see how different characteristics of the achilles are beneficial for the same sport and that they are acquired in different ways.
I don’t believe that the 10,000 hour rule is relevant to all sports or to all people. In the case of Holm, it probably did apply to him due to him not being naturally built like most professional high jumpers. He was obviously very dedicated to the sport and putting in the deliberate practice is what helped him become successful. However, some people are naturally gifted athletes who can pick up a sport much more easily than the average person.
Epstein, D. (n.d.). Chapter 2. In The Sports Gene (pp. 18–37).