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Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

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1 Sporting success

Are some people born with a genetic predisposition to thrive at particular sports or types of exercise (e.g. power, strength or endurance)? This is one of the most common questions asked in sport, and we often describe someone as ‘being a natural’ at sport, which is synonymous with being born with the right genes. For example, here is an extract from the autobiography of Spanish tennis player Rafa Nadal, writing about Roger Federer:

He just seems to have been born to play the game. His physique – his DNA – seems perfectly adapted to tennis … You get these blessed freaks of nature in other sports too.

(Nadal and Carlin, 2011, p. 13)

There is a tendency for some to gravitate towards ‘nature’ (i.e. fixed, born or genetic) as an explanation of champions’ successes because physical attributes are tangible. However, some people think that sporting success is more about ‘nurture’, or the way they have been developed by coaching and their environment (i.e. champions can be made). What do you think?