Some of the traits that help predict the “future pros” are behavioral. The future pros not only tend to practice more, but they take responsibility for practicing better. However, if you’re slow, can you still make it pro?
Dr. Elerink-Gemser, who is known for her research in talent identification and development in youth sports, recalls her study at the University of Groningen’s Center for Human Movement Sciences where she observed over ten thousand young athletes. She remarked, “We see young athletes with high probability of professional-level success, even when we first test them at the age of twelve that they are the players who will go up and ask the trainer, ‘Why should I do this? If they don’t agree with the training.”
But an even bigger indication of future pros are the small variations in physical traits at age 12 that delineate the haves and the have-nots. “What we see in shuttle sprints,” Elferink-Gemser says, “is that the ones signing a professional contract later are the ones that are on average 0.2 seconds faster when they are younger, at the age of 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. They are always on a group average about 0.2 seconds faster than the ones who end up on the amateur level. That really gives some indication that it is important to be fast. You need a minimum speed. If you’re really slow, then you cannot catch up, and speed is really hard to train. Obviously, this isn’t breaking news to sports scientists. After testing over ten thousand athletes, the one conclusion,” she says, “I’ve never seen an athlete who was slow become fast.”
So, if you’re really slow, can you still make it pro? There still might be a chance, but the odds are certainly against you.