T Nation

Athletes are made not born!


Just wondering what everyones opinion on this is. Personally im not sure. Is saying that athletes 'are made' just a way to cling on to the hope that someday you just might 'make it' with the right training? or does training play a more important role than we think?


You can accomplish wonders with good training, nutrition etc. But with greatness, you have it or you don't. I think the tough part is to take natural ability, then bust your ass to get better. Dan Gable, Michael Jordan, Barry Bonds, Larry Bird, Majic Johnson and so on.
When I was a kid, I loved to read sports biographies. One story I remember was how Hank Aaron would help his friends do their chores so they could play baseball.


There are natural athletes who are excellent, and then there are people who bust their asses to become excellent. Most of the time, if the natural athlete actually puts a good deal of effort into whatever it is, they will do better.

It's the same with brains too. Some people just are naturally intelligent and can remember everything from whenever, and then there are those who have to study their asses off to be equals. I'm the former, and my fiancee is the latter, so I see it daily.


Good topic. I think that top athletes are born with the skills that enable them to be good at a particular endeavor and through proper training, nutrition etc., they are able to reach their ultimate potential. Many, many other good athletes get there, IMO, through hard work, perseverance etc. and perhaps have minimal natural ability.


I don't think everyone was born to play any sport. Some people are naturally gifted at powerlifting or strongman type stuff but they aren't well suited to long distance running..etc, etc., etc.

I do think everybody is born to be good at some sport though. You have better luck if you match the sport to your natural talents and build.


everyone could be a born athlete, just pick the right sport.... or make one up that you can win


Athletes are MADE from their genetical potential. If this potential is low, you will most likely never become a top NFL player or earn Gold in the Olympics.

Likewise, if your potential is extremely high but you're mentally weak and uniterested in being the very best, than there's not much one can do either.


Hey all,
It's BOTH. You can have the best genetics, but if you half ass it without a plan, it's worthless. Likewise you can have the worst genetics, but go fullout and achieve greatness. I read about the BE-DO-HAVE concepts in rich dad/poor dad. If you HAVE goals or desires you want, you have to BE the person on the inside, that will DO the things on the outside to HAVE those HAVE'S.
Of course, like previously mentioned a genetic freak that goes fullout those are the legends.


Currently, the most famous and probably best athlete in the world right now isn't genetically gifted. Infact, he was on his deathbed and came back to be world renowned (Lance Armstrong). Is that genetics? If anything, genetics were working against him.


I dont think i would classify Larry Bird as a having great ability. He was tall and he could shoot and he was relentless.


A bit of both, all the desire and training in the world will never overcome average genetics and great genetics can be wasted.

As for Lance Armstrong not being genetically gifted, yeah right! (insert sarcastic tone)
a) he was a triathlon prodigee in his teens
and b) was a top class cyclist [b]before[/] the cancer.


Lance Armstrong has been studied like no other modern athlete to try to understand how he is capable of his endurance and explosive power on climbs. He's been called a genetic mutant by doctors. If genetic predisposition has been demonstrated in anyone, it's him, of course, with a large helping of dedication in there as well.


chrismcl-as far as athletic ability i would say that lance armstrong is genetically gifted.

One thing that many people dont understand is that what you do when you are really young effects your ability for the rest of your life. You cant be a computer nerd for the first 15 years of your life and then expect to be able to train and become an elite athlete. Many motor skills are learned and practice at these skills effects how you perform the rest of your life. Ive spent the last year and a half studying and debating this very subject. I believe that many are born with a greater propensity for athletic performance but they dont develop these abilities because of a lack of practice. You have to be very lucky in that you have to be born with most of the tools to succeed and be put into positions to develop these tools. So if your parents are very protective and keep you in the house while you are growing up you are much less likely to develop any proficiency at motor skills. If a kid is also pushed to learn one skill and not pushed to learn another skill then they wont be able to perform the skill very well. I have a good example of this. Last year on our squad we had a guy from some latin american country who couldnt throw or catch. In fact he was at the lowest developmental level(yes we pe teachers do actually learn something besides how to play dodgeball). But when it came to kicking he was at the highest developmental level. In fact he was phenomenal at kicking. In his country they did a lot of kicking and not much throwing or catching. could he learn to throw and catch at a developmentally high level? I dont know. These things are much better learned before the age of 12. Thats why good physical education is so important.


i WOULD classify Bird as having great ability. his timing, hand-eye coordination and endurance were off the charts, he just wasnt much of a runner/jumper.
and yes, he was relentless


if you're born with a high fast twitch make up, and have been runnin/jumpin since you were six years old, you've been trainin without knowin it, and have a "leg-up" on the comp [no pun intended].
thats not to say, if you find your sport later on, with passion and hard work you CAN make up for lost time, and will have also trained without knowin it.
it's like the kid who used to watch 'come fly with me' then went out on the 8ft rim and practiced punchin anyway he could. 4 yrs later he's bigger stonger faster and now he's doin it on the real court, but the kid who didnt start til 4 yrs later found his love, played come hell or high water and made up for lost ground.
certain people are born to do 1 thing, but i think you can find a fork in the road on your "predetermined path."
just my thinkin. peace,flash


Hmmmm, Lance "not genetically gifted"? I'd say he is. Just combine that gift for cycling with his tenacity and excellent work ethics and you easily have a champion.

Genetically predisposed or not; you still have to work hard. Trophies and first place finishes just won't come to you like a well behaved dog. In this day and age of athletic super science, you have to fight your way to the top.


im with my old bud Hyphnz on that on Chris. Lance i would say is very gifted, just because you cant tell by looking at him (like you would with, say, a football player) doesnt mean he hasnt got the the primo genes.
Sure he's also had to put in the hard yards, i doubt anyone would refute that, but i rekon he had a head start