I want to talk about a book I recently read called The Sports Gene. It is a book written by David Epstein, on the effects of genetics and sports training on human athleticism. He discusses topics such as the effects of gender, race, genetics, culture, and physical environment as being contributors to success in specific sports. Overall, I enjoyed the entire read.
I specifically want to give my viewpoint on Chapter 3. A Tale of Two High Jumpers (Or: 10000 Hours Plus or Minus 10000 Hours.
In the chapter Epstein discussed this 10000 hour principle The principle holds that 10000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field.
Do I agree or disagree?
I agree and I disagree. Do I think this could apply outside of the athletic world and to non-athletes? Absolutely.
I do agree that 10000 hours of deliberate practice can help get you to be world class in any field, but I do not agree that is the ultimate formula. In sports: coaching, equipment, sports medicine/therapy, psychology, politics, money and more all take important roles. To me, it’s more like putting the optimal hand together for a poker game.
For example, if I were to break down the sport I am currently an athlete in, the 10,000 hour rule does not work. In skeleton, our deliberate practice is only when we go down the icy track. An athlete usually takes 1-3 runs a day down the track. That’s up to 15 runs a week for up to 20 weeks a year. This equals 300 runs. Each run is roughly 1 minute. So that means a skeleton athlete is only getting 300 minutes (5 hours) of deliberate practice a year! Anyway, several athletes make their way onto the World Cup after 6 years of training/competing on other circuits. Totalling the hours of deliberate training to 30 hours to make it onto a World Class playing field. No where close to 10000. The sport of skeleton also highly depends on mental training (mind runs), sprint/strength training, equipment, coaching, and more for an athlete’s success. Overall, concluding that the 10000 hour principle does not withhold.
Now, going back to the counterpart where I do agree that 10000 hours of deliberate practice can help get you to be world class in a field. This does not need to pertain to just sports, but in several areas of life.
Example: hours to become a doctor.
(Maybe not use the word “World Class” but can certainly use the term professional)
A doctor in internal medicine you must:
• Graduate college with a Bachelor’s degree
• Graduate from medical school
• Pass all three USMLEs
• Take part in a 3-yr residency program
• Pass an internal medicine board exam
Total training/study time: 33,760 hours (source)
This is a great example of how the principle can apply. But even here it actually took well over 10000 hours!
What I want to really end on. What if you put 10000 hours of deliberate practice on creating the body you were born to have or the body you would ideally want? What would that look like? How long would it take? Maybe you can reach it sooner than 10000 hours, but ultimately being able to be deliberate with your training and overall lifestyle would be key.