Athletic Talent

Louie Simmons
Thu May 11, 2017

Vladimir Issurin PhD.

If there is a method of determining who will, and who will not rise to the top in athletics, this book can answer many of those questions.  There are many factors that determine this, and Issurin focalizes these points in Athletic Talent.

It seems that heredity can lead to one being, as they say, “gifted” toward a particular sport or activity. Some children show great promise as early as 3 to 5 years of age, while other children must be exposed to guidance or education and will show giftedness later -  from 7 to 10 years old. Still others are a year or two behind until early adulthood and only then will they surpass their competition. Out of this entire population, there are very few truly gifted children, about 1%.

Along with genealogy, body types and genetics always play a role in achieving sports excellence.  A 6’5” male weighing over 300 pounds would make an excellent lineman, and yet a terrible receiver - even though his height at a lighter body weight would suggest differently.  Along the same vein, it would not be possible to play professional basketball while standing at 5’ tall.  While one may shine as a wrestler at this stature - the athlete must choose the sport in which their natural build will bring them the most success.  We all have seen it, one can have a million dollar body and a 10 cent brain.  

Beyond inherited ability, a child’s geographical roots can play a significant role in their sporting success. Latin American children play baseball, while Brazil has thousands of soccer players for the younger generations to look up to and emulate. Sports that have produced athletes for children to look up to in America are football, basketball, track and field, as well as women’s gymnastics. This is due to a large base of juniors to pick from, and the 1% of these juniors will rise to the top. Sports that are on TV have a huge following that entice youth to participate in these sports, meaning that social media plays a large role in our sports development.  For example - everyone, it seems, wants to participate in the Olympic Games. They realize they must be built similar to their Olympic heroes and that they represent a model athlete.

Yesterday’s athletes cannot compete in today’s world of specialization. To increase their chances of success, an athlete must go to a sports schools with qualified coaches that have one goal, high performance preparation. This will help determine if one is a team player, or should participate in a sport with zero teammates: boxing, wrestling, tennis, or bowling for example. From the very beginning, one must enjoy what they are doing.  A few questions will separate those with athletic talent from the rest. Are they committed to training? Do they want to be great? Do they have the genetics and psychological profile to succeed? Then, is the athlete trainable? Are they excelling at their endeavor? Can one show continued progress? Years ago, pro baseball scouts would choose young catchers as early as 13 for a pro career, only to find they peaked at 17 or 18 years old while other competitors continued to gain greater motor skills and maturity in their later years. In Athletic Talent, Issurin has made it possible to distinguish all of the above. This fine book covers all manners of how to identify and develop a world class athlete and should be in every coach’s library.