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I'm assuming the 10,000 hours figure you mention is referencing the idea that you can become exceptionally good at any sport if you practice it productively for that amount of time. It was a theory that was made to refute the importance of 'natural ability'. (The theory originates, I think, from Matthew Syed's book Bounce.)
The problem is, the theory doesn't say that if you practice productively for 10,000 hours, you'll magically become the standard of a professional. You'll become a exceptionally good (I think the word Syed uses is master), but the pro players will have been masterful at the sport for a lot longer and will have developed even more
It was interesting reading this guys story, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bounce-Myth-Talent-Power-Practice/dp/0007350546
This book alleges that talent isn't something you are born with but something that comes with practice -e.g Tiger Woods wasn't born a great golfer but made a great golfer with extremely strict and regular training from an an early age by his dad.
The example in the book is a street in the UK that produced multiple elite level table tennis players - rather than being "something in the water" the cause was actually one of their teachers was a former table tennis player who set up an after school club which gave the kids the opportunity for coaching and regular practice.
Of course this guys anecdote implies Lebron was a phenom from a young age and also that physically/explosively he was ahead of 18 year olds.
So the question is where does Lebrons ability come from - was it nature or nurture.
My guess is that the physical attributes eg the power and the jump height etc were natural - and the ability/skill came with nurture.
Have you heard about the difference between a Fixed Mindset and Growth mindset?
People with the former tend to think they're inherently better than other people, while actually not being aware of their failings.
People with the latter realise that most things like talent, success, intelligence are all malleable and can change depending on many factors, but mostly due to hard work.
The best people i've ever worked with were the most humble. Feeling superiour will be a barrier to your chances of success. (and make you a pain in the ass)
(recovering fixed mindsetter)
Slight side note but, I read this book called Bounce by Matthew Syed and it totally challenged every notion I had of talent. It's only one book, and there may be others out there that challenge what the author says. But it really made me look at sport stars in a different light. The myth of talent and power of practice. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bounce-Myth-Talent-Power-Practice/dp/0007350546
Here is an entire book full of peer reviewed research: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bounce-Myth-Talent-Power-Practice/dp/0007350546
I recommend Bounce by Matthew Syed on this topic.
The authour tries to dispel the myth of talent, and does a really great job at it.
This book *Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice by former champion table tennis player Matthew Syed, deals with this question. I wouldn't be surprised if Kavanagh's read it, among other stuff like it.
Basically, at best there's a very clear correlation between people who are able to practice a sport-specific skill or skills, from a young age, for a very long time, and being really good at the specific sport later in life. What most people figure is genetics can be explained by this rule. Examples in the book include:
Brazilians being disproportionately good at football (soccer) - because so many of the kids grow up playing football and, crucially, futsal, which is a similar sport played on a smaller field with a smaller ball, and so is much harder to play well, and makes going on to play regular football way easier.
Kenyans being good runners - talks about how basically all the good Kenyan runners come from not all over Kenya but from one particular tribe, and this tribe's lifestyle brings them up running long distances from an early age or something. This article I found probably goes into more detail, but I'm too lazy to bother reading it right now.
I think there are plenty others I forget, he talks about his own upbringing, playing table tennis for hours daily (he happened to live on the same street as a former champion player turned coach or something). Also about a European couple who decided to turn their daughters into champion tennis players simply by bringing them up playing the game a lot. I think their third daughter wasn't brought playing tennis at all and lo and behold, she's crap at it. Something like that.
The book completely supports Kavanagh's premise, the idea that "natural talent" is a misconception because it conceals hours upon hours of hard work. Think Mike Tyson, adopted by Cus d'Amato. How many hours of boxing discussion did they have? How many hours of watching fight footage? Tyson was surrounded by the sport and it probably dominated his whole life at that stage, thinking about it every moment. No surprise he got pretty good at it.
This all relates to the "10,000 hour rule" you often hear about. The book explains that this originally took the form of the "10 years rule", putting that an athlete would generally reach mastery of sport after 10 years of good practice. Supposing that the aspiring athlete can dedicate a maximum of 1000 hours per year to training gives us the 10,000 hours figure. Obviously this is a rough guide. But the point is, children who are brought up playing a sport, and have more time to dedicate to it when they're younger, hit the 10,000 hours point earlier, and get more hours overall than another athlete who starts later in life. But these kids are labelled "prodigies" and it's assumed to be genetic.
That's the first half of the book in a nutshell. The second half kinda meanders around other sports-related topics, a bit on roiding and stuff, but the first half is relevant to this discussion. After reading it I agree with it, and so I agree with Kavanagh here. And as I said, it would not surprise me in the slightest if Kavanagh has read this same book.
The takeaway is: if you want to be good at sport, train more. Don't use genetics as an excuse.
Get more humble* and changes jobs** :)
Yes, this Oxford grad and Commonwealth table tennis said as much in his book Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice. He choked at the Olympics.
There really isn't such a thing as talent. 99% is the amount of work you put into developing skills. Read Bounce by Matthew Syed.