Practice Makes Perfect or Nature or Nurture?

This has been something that has puzzled me for years; Can hard work and determination overcome God given natural ability? I’m sure when you can remember being young, trying something new and wondering why someone was better at something that you were? Heck that’s something I still look around and say when I see others excelling at something I just can’t seem to get a handle on. There are two stances on this debate: Nature or Nurture seem to be so interlaced at every realm of athletic performance that both training and nature talent will determine expertise or 10,000 hours of hard work and practice can make any one an expert.

Some people are put on this world with specific skill sets than others, but to refine that skill and get to the level of expertise some of these athletes get to, you will need to invest unprecedented amounts of work as well. Nature and nurture interact at almost every step of the way to develop an elite athlete. For example (from nature perspective), people vary widely in the size of their heart and lungs and the amount of red blood cells they have in their body. Therefore a training regimen intensity that works well for one person may not work as well for another. Then there is the debate that Anders Ericcson, a Swedish professor widely recognized as one of the world’s leading researchers on expertise, came up with the 10,000 hr rule. In his research he discovered that the people who were at the top of their field all tended to complete at least 10,000 hrs of deliberate practice.

Your position on this debate probably depends on not only some of these points, but also your own experiences. Perhaps you were someone who felt you didn’t possess the natural talent to excel at sports, but through hard work and training, you were able to eclipse some of those who may have been more talented than you in the beginning. Or on the other side of the fence maybe you were the gifted athlete who found that with minimal training you could outperform most of your peers in a rage of different activities.

No matter where your stance is, I bet we all can agree that hard work and deliberate practice sure wont set you back in your plans to be an EXPERT!


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