Moe and David discuss many of our perceptions about why top athletes excel.
The Science of Extraordinary Performance
Venus and Serena Williams have dominated Women’s Tennis for nearly two decades now. Between them, they’ve won 102 singles titles, 43 doubles, 2 Olympic gold medals, and a remarkable 24 Grand Slam championships. Growing up near Compton, CA the Williams sisters took to the pothole riddled, public courts at the age of 3. With their father as their coach, they would practice for nearly two-hours a day in a setting littered with drugs, gangs, and courts that were often missing nets. It was no accident that they were exposed to such an environment – their father, a former sharecropper from Louisiana, wanted his girls to see ‘the ugly possibilities of life. If they did not work hard and get an education’ they would ultimately become part of that climate.
The great irony, however, is that Richard Williams had never played tennis. His only education was through the books he read and the instructional videos he kept replaying to his daughters. So, it’s not hard to argue that Venus and Serena were groomed to play professional tennis. Certainly, their Father’s to be commended for his commitment; still I wonder if their power and physique was something more than just training. David Epstein writes about sports and science, and in his brilliant book – The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance – he confirms scientifically that not only do genetics matter in sports, but so does your environment and mental perspective. So, in your quest for optimal performance, it’s wise to follow this advice —–