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Race camp observations

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 

So my daughter (and I) went to her very 1st race camp at Mt. Hood a couple of weeks ago, and I had a couple of observations I thought I would share.

Some background. My now 8-year-old daughter has been eyeballing the local racing club for several years. Last spring I talked to the director and he skied with her for an hour or so and thought she would be a good fit for the slightly more advanced beginner program (there's also a more beginner beginner program that only races against themselves). In order to evaluate her better, and more importantly to gauge her enthusiasm for such a commitment, he suggested she come to one of the summer race camps. The one he suggested was a “walk on” camp, the racers all stayed with their parents as opposed to each other in a dorm situation. Neither my daughter nor I have had any experience whatsoever with ski racing. The bulk of the skiers at this camp were a little older than my daughter (the center of the age curve seem to be around 14-ish), and I'm fairly certain that my daughter was the only one there that had not been in the program for a while, although there were a couple that I think had only been in the “beginner beginner program” before.

The 1st thing I noticed was how welcoming and friendly the other parents were. They all went out of their way to include both my daughter and myself in activities. More than once after getting a “Hello Amelia” my daughter would ask “How do they know my name?” Unfortunately, my daughter was the only girl in her group. She is at an age where boys are viewed with barely concealed contempt (an attitude I heartily approve of and hope she maintains), so she didn't make any real close friends but still had a very good time, playing with several of the girls during non-skiing activities. I did stand next to a conversation about “our 2nd vacation home" in which figures well into the 7 digits were tossed about. I had to smirk a little bit, but it seemed to be more out of obliviousness than “mine is bigger than yours” one upmanship. Overall, I couldn't have imagined a nicer bunch. I have had experience with soccer, swimming, tennis, drama and fairly high-level (for an 8 year old) gymnastics parents none of which were anywhere near as welcoming as this crowd.

I did find one thing surprising, and I hope I can explain this so that does not offend anyone. For what I am assuming was a self-selected bunch of fairly high level young skiers, the level of general athleticism seemed a little low. To be absolutely clear, there were several seemingly very good athletes there.  When I say the level was low I don't mean in comparison to a random selection of like aged kids. I assume this groups "elite" level would be more comparable to a local babe ruth or soccer  league all-star team, maybe the starters on a large schools JV high school basketball team.  

What do I mean by athleticism? Well, it can be kind of hard to define but I think most people know it when they see it. It's that quality that gets the same people picked 1st in PE class, even when nobody has ever seen the game before because it's some weird thing the PE instructor came up with on the spot. It's something that when you're young you can size up even among complete strangers after a few minutes of horseplay. Things like balance, quickness, body sense. I wouldn't necessarily put strength or endurance in the category of innate athleticism as they are relatively quickly changed with training. 

How was I judging their athleticism? Well I set up an NFL style combine and ran them all through it.  Actually, I'm just talking about observing them playing capture the flag in the woods, swimming, running, playing ultimate Frisbee and just generally horsing around. I have coached Little League baseball, girls soccer, and youth league basketball. I generally had a pretty good idea of who the best players would be after about 10 min. of watching them goof off before practice started. Not that there weren't some very nice surprises.

So was it just me? I know the level of athleticism needed to obtain the highest heights in ski racing is comparable to other sports, but maybe the level needed to be “pretty darn good” is not as high as other sports and maybe the lack of athleticism can be compensated for better than in other sports?
Maybe I'm wrong about the level of competition the skiers were at and in my choice of mental comparison groups?
Maybe I'm wrong about what I consider athletic? Or my ability to judge what is athletic? Maybe the camp group was more selected by who had money to go to camp then by their skiing ability?

 

/EDIT: Want to emphasize that I didn't think any of the racers were "poor" athletes. Nobody was walking into walls or poking themselves in the eye while trying to eat. It was just that as a group, while above average, they weren't as athletic as I had subconsciously expected.


Edited by Alveolus - 8/13/13 at 2:03am
post #2 of 40
No, i don't think you're wrong at all. The very best skiers I have personally known were/are excellent athletes. There are no exceptions. Every skier I've know that's made it to the upper levels (development team/Europa cup stuff) have been exceptional athletes. One came from money, a couple did not, but by the community standards at the time, they weren't poor either. IMHO and anecdotally, There is no one in the top 20-25 on the WC circuit for both men and women who aren't in the top 1-2% of general athletic ability in the overall population. Years ago when they had the battle of the star athlete stuff on TV, people like Klammer cleaned up against the best in their day.. Linn Swan, etc....

And sadly I agree that ski racing is becoming much to expensive for a great athlete of average means to pursue unless his/her family is somehow connected to the ski industry (Bode, the Mahre twins, etc...). Sometimes the stars align and you get both means and ability (Tamara McKinney, Mikaela Shiffrin, etc.... ). Some families make nearly insane commitments to keep their kids in race programs (Lindsey Vonn, Seth Morrison, etc..) Then there are countries with great ski cultures that do a lot to develop and fund their 'natural resource', but we're not on that list just yet nor are we ever likely to be.
post #3 of 40

I can do single leg squats better than Marco Sullivan and Steven Nyman, surely I'm the better athlete here but somehow they both manage to still be faster than me! eek.gifbiggrin.gif

Obviously, that's not a serious statement... but it is true. So what does it mean? I think in skiing there must be a certain level of finesse, an innate ability to "feel" the snow and the skis without that it's impossible to become elite. 
Am I saying that you don't need to be an athlete to be an elite skier? No, that would be a ridiculous statement. What I am saying and you don't need to be an absolute specimen of human performance to be great, contrary to other sports such as the NFL, Track, etc.

Different sports require different "levels" of athleticism, and this is why in skiing we see all sorts of shapes and bodies competing at the same level.  

post #4 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post

I can do single leg squats better than Marco Sullivan and Steven Nyman, surely I'm the better athlete here but somehow they both manage to still be faster than me! eek.gifbiggrin.gif

Obviously, that's not a serious statement... but it is true. So what does it mean? I think in skiing there must be a certain level of finesse, an innate ability to "feel" the snow and the skis without that it's impossible to become elite. 
Am I saying that you don't need to be an athlete to be an elite skier? No, that would be a ridiculous statement. What I am saying and you don't need to be an absolute specimen of human performance to be great, contrary to other sports such as the NFL, Track, etc.

Different sports require different "levels" of athleticism, and this is why in skiing we see all sorts of shapes and bodies competing at the same level.  

 

But...you are athletic.  The OP is stating that the level of athleticism seen at the camp is lower than expected.  Not that the most athletic weren't the fastest.  Yes I get your comment was tongue and cheek.  I had a similar experience at a race camp with regards to balance.  During the morning dry land drills in the lodge, I watched countless members of the "really fast group" that couldn't do simple balance drills, like stand on one leg while wearing sneakers.  These guys wouldn't pass a sobriety test sober!  Some of them seemed awkward doing most drills that I thought were rather basic and easily accomplished.  You should see them ski!!  Kind of like the old Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid movie where he can't hit the target unless he moves before shooting.

 

Some folks think of skiing as an easy (athletically) sport because gravity does the work.  You're just sliding right.  They forget how much strength it takes to use gravity.  At my home mountain they start doing dry land drills with the U racers in the fall sometime hiking them up the mountain.  Very few of the kids aren't athletic and many are in multiple sports.

 

When we have U races at the mountain, I see tons of athletic kids.  Yes there is the Bell curve and kids that aren't athletic there too but the majority are athletic.

post #5 of 40

Right, in regards to the OP surprise I think that there are 2 main reasons for what was observed.

First, just because you are at a race camp doesn't mean you are the top dog.
On the contrary, from what I've seen the best kids go train on their own all around the world (I was in france a few weeks ago... there were canadians, koreans, spaniards, slovenians, french, etc.) the kids that go to "brand camps" often are the ones who go there to improve or searching for that magic thing that will make them faster.

Second, PE in the US school system is becoming a joke (if it isn't already).
if you want to be an athlete you must get on a team (football, basketball, baseball, soccer, etc) but to make the team you need to be an athlete. so what happens to the ones that aren't one already? taking the regular PE classes won't make any difference.

Put these two together and you'll see why most of the kids at Mt Hood don't look like much of an athlete. 

The good thing is that they are still young, if they are in a good racing program their coaches will start them on serious dry land training soon hopefully fixing this lack of athletic skills!

 

post #6 of 40

Better not come along to a Masters race then....biggrin.gif

post #7 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post

if you want to be an athlete you must get on a team (football, basketball, baseball, soccer, etc) but to make the team you need to be an athlete. so what happens to the ones that aren't one already? taking the regular PE classes won't make any difference.
 

 

I beg to differ. Athleticism is something you are born with, similar in some respects to intelligence.

Both of my kids played on many sports teams growing up including Soccer, Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Volleyball and Football (son). My daughter is an athlete, my son is not. Both facts were pretty obvious by age 5.

As far as the athleticism of Ski Racing camp participants, I would theorize that ski racing is still not drawing the most elite athletes in this country. Parents that love to ski or living in an area with abundant ski opportunities are the most important factors all the ski kids have in common. The best pure athletes in the US are probably playing a sports where the monetary rewards or recognition are greater. In Austria ski racing does get the best athletes.
post #8 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post


Am I saying that you don't need to be an athlete to be an elite skier? No, that would be a ridiculous statement. What I am saying and you don't need to be an absolute specimen of human performance to be great, contrary to other sports such as the NFL,
 

And yet there's Jeremy Bloom. Funny thing is again, every elite ski athlete (racing) I've ever met have indeed been specimens who could have excelled at a very high level in other sports that best suited their body types... Probably no NFL linemen though. Skills positions? Back to Jeremy. Amazing he got as far as he did given the time and physical demands required by skiing and football. Kind of wonder if he can read... smile.gif. That's a joke, ok?

On a more typical 'damned good' level, I had a BC partner who picked up free heel skiing in about 10 days. He was very easy to coach, and to this day, i've yet to teach anyone free heel skiing that has learned faster. He played div. 2 baseball on scholarship and was also an L3 alpine skier and about a 70pt FIS skier as a kid. Elite? No. Maybe in the top 10%? Probably.

We forget how much better truly elite athletes in their respective sports are than even very very good amateurs/semi pros.
post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsSkier View Post

Better not come along to a Masters race then....biggrin.gif

That's hilarious! While there are no doubt some very very good masters folks out there*, there are a whole lot more who are pretty painful to watch, not to mention the beer gut and skinny legs all too well defined by speed suits. smile.gif

* I'm thinking Cary Adgate and similar
Edited by markojp - 8/13/13 at 8:23am
post #10 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingMouth View Post

 

I beg to differ. Athleticism is something you are born with, similar in some respects to intelligence.

Both of my kids played on many sports teams growing up including Soccer, Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Volleyball and Football (son). My daughter is an athlete, my son is not. Both facts were pretty obvious by age 5.

As far as the athleticism of Ski Racing camp participants, I would theorize that ski racing is still not drawing the most elite athletes in this country. Parents that love to ski or living in an area with abundant ski opportunities are the most important factors all the ski kids have in common. The best pure athletes in the US are probably playing a sports where the monetary rewards or recognition are greater. In Austria ski racing does get the best athletes.

Well, of course it isn't. There are waaaaaay too many barriers to this, most notably geography and $$$$$. Summer race camp is just another huge expense for 99.9% of racers, as well, since it's another travel and board situation on top of the coaching etc.

 

Our best pure athletes are playing sports that not only have more monetary rewards, but largely where the entry barriers are much lower. ie, you need one ball, a pair of shoes, a free place to play, and a few other interested participants. Maybe some pads, but that's still nothing compared to what you need for skiing.  

post #11 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingMouth View Post

 

I beg to differ. Athleticism is something you are born with, similar in some respects to intelligence.

Both of my kids played on many sports teams growing up including Soccer, Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Volleyball and Football (son). My daughter is an athlete, my son is not. Both facts were pretty obvious by age 5.

As far as the athleticism of Ski Racing camp participants, I would theorize that ski racing is still not drawing the most elite athletes in this country. Parents that love to ski or living in an area with abundant ski opportunities are the most important factors all the ski kids have in common. The best pure athletes in the US are probably playing a sports where the monetary rewards or recognition are greater. In Austria ski racing does get the best athletes.

 

 

You should read Outliers. There are so many sweeping generalizations in your statements. I don't believe entirely in nature, except where physical attributes like height or size preclude one from achieving a particular position, like a 5'2" guy isn't going to make the NBA or be a NFL lineman. I put a lot more faith opportunity, such as your second statement and desire. I suspect that your daughter enjoys physical activities more than your son because she is successful at them which usually leads to further enjoyment which in turn leads to more participation... you get the idea.

post #12 of 40

http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/media/books/How-Athletes-Get-Great.html?page=all

 

This is funny, I just was going to find the 10,000 hr expert thread and post this, and this thread took a similar turn. 

post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeroGravity View Post

 

 

You should read Outliers. There are so many sweeping generalizations in your statements. I don't believe entirely in nature, except where physical attributes like height or size preclude one from achieving a particular position, like a 5'2" guy isn't going to make the NBA or be a NFL lineman. I put a lot more faith opportunity, such as your second statement and desire. I suspect that your daughter enjoys physical activities more than your son because she is successful at them which usually leads to further enjoyment which in turn leads to more participation... you get the idea.

Author Of A New Book About Genetics Destroys Malcolm Gladwell's '10,000-Hour Rule'

Sports reporter David Epstein has written a new book called The Sports Gene about the role of genetics in sports.

 

In an interview with Outside magazine today, Epstein talks the nature vs. nurture debate and attacks the so-called "10,000-hour rule" popularized by Malcolm Gladwell.

In his book Outliers, Gladwell describes a theory that you can achieve mastery in any task by practicing it for 10,000 hours.

It's basically "practice makes perfect," but backed up with scientific research.

Epstein says that's a lie. He says the study that's the basis for Gladwell's 10,000-hour rule is flawed, the assertion that practice matters is meaningless, and your biological setup determines how much practice you need to put into a task to master it.

He told Outside that the people who reference the 10,000-hour rule have never read the original study:

"I talked to Olympic scientists a lot and they didn’t seem to think about the science or have even read they underlying paper. They knew nothing about it. The study is based on the practice hours of 10 people who are already in a world-famous music academy, so they’re already prescreened."....

 



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/sports-gene-author-gladwell-10000-hour-rule-2013-8#ixzz2brZwOy00

post #14 of 40
^^^^Probably important to distinguish 'mastery' from the notion of an elite athlete, as well as the idea that some sports probably favor repetition, coaching, training, and 'access' over others. Say skiing vs. the 100 meter sprint.

If I look at the big mountain sports and play that across themes like 'no fall zone', then I get a very different view of the 'master'. Imagine if hockey had no fall zones where death was a probable outcome. Those guys would come out in tutus and have ice picnics. The role that genetics plays in risk/reward vs. other factors (such as obsessions) is an interesting question.
post #15 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

Well, of course it isn't. There are waaaaaay too many barriers to this, most notably geography and $$$$$. Summer race camp is just another huge expense for 99.9% of racers, as well, since it's another travel and board situation on top of the coaching etc.

 

Our best pure athletes are playing sports that not only have more monetary rewards, but largely where the entry barriers are much lower. ie, you need one ball, a pair of shoes, a free place to play, and a few other interested participants. Maybe some pads, but that's still nothing compared to what you need for skiing.  

 

Exactly.

 

Here's a link to a new article in the Alpine Press questioning if American junior racers (and by extension Canadian too!) are getting the prescribed "days on snow" to be successful as adults. I know here, Alpine Canada prescribes 100-120 days on snow a year for U16s. 100 to 120 f*cking days in a season that runs basically mid-December to mid-Mar which is roughly 95 days and that's 7 days a week. Even if you are lucky enough to live in a locale that has an extended season, you might get a race season that runs late-Nov to end of April, which is not the case if you happend to live outside the western North America.

 

So your 14-15 year old (grade 8 and 9) is on snow at least 5 days a week to get to those numbers, and probably has to spend 3-5 weeks at a summer camp on a glacier somewhere at around $1000 - $1500 a week. Oh yeah and when are these kids supposed to be in school? For all intents and purposes, U18 FIS kids basically don't go to school from November to April. Either parents have to manage a school year with the extra pressure of trying to get everything done on top of skiing or have to go to a ski academy at 30,40+ G's  a year.

 

There is also opportunity. My case, being in Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec, we have 6-7 hills most of which have verticals 6-800'. There are probably less than 1000 kids racing across all age levels. There is one elite team that at U16 still only participates in regional races, and takes somewhere between 6 and 10 kids on the team. If your kids doesn't male the cut, no matter how much they want to ski, you are outta luck and you are shuffled of to weekend warrior programs or send them away to an academy, of which there is only one in Ontario and I am not sure about Quebec. None of the local hills offer a 100-day program, 30'ish days is normal, with some extra training maybe gets you to an additional 15-20days. Falls well short of the 100 day reccomendation, and it's not even for a lack of willingness to do it, there simply isn't anything available locally, regardless of cost.

post #16 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

Author Of A New Book About Genetics Destroys Malcolm Gladwell's '10,000-Hour Rule'

Sports reporter David Epstein has written a new book called The Sports Gene about the role of genetics in sports.

 

In an interview with Outside magazine today, Epstein talks the nature vs. nurture debate and attacks the so-called "10,000-hour rule" popularized by Malcolm Gladwell.

In his book Outliers, Gladwell describes a theory that you can achieve mastery in any task by practicing it for 10,000 hours.

It's basically "practice makes perfect," but backed up with scientific research.

Epstein says that's a lie. He says the study that's the basis for Gladwell's 10,000-hour rule is flawed, the assertion that practice matters is meaningless, and your biological setup determines how much practice you need to put into a task to master it.

He told Outside that the people who reference the 10,000-hour rule have never read the original study:

"I talked to Olympic scientists a lot and they didn’t seem to think about the science or have even read they underlying paper. They knew nothing about it. The study is based on the practice hours of 10 people who are already in a world-famous music academy, so they’re already prescreened."....

 



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/sports-gene-author-gladwell-10000-hour-rule-2013-8#ixzz2brZwOy00

 

 

 

I don't agree entirely on either view, and there are plenty of examples to support both cases. Yes 100%,  there are is physical traits (body type, muscle makeup etc) that lend themselves to particular activities. I will never be a sprinter, ever. With lots of practice I can to certain extent change my physical charateristics, but I have no desire to put in the effort it requires.  But even if one has these traits, without the opportunity to use them, or the desire, then that person will accomplish very little. I believe that opportunity (a la Outliers) plays a bigger role than genetic ability. I don't give much credence to a hard number like "10000 hours", but it does illustrate that some one who is willing puit in that kind of effort is probably serious about improving (except maybe golf) and is going to use that time for quality practice, unless they really like wasting several years of their life.

 

Skiing is a lot like that. I have seen top ranked kids drop out after K2/U16 because of time, school, money etc and others persevere despite not being top ranked and some end up doing quite well. I don't think that one can be slotted into solely into nature vs nature.

 

 

Now back to the topic of the OP, is that things like race camps and in certain elite teams (for lack of a better term) you are going to get the best that can afford to be there, not necessarily the best athletes.

post #17 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeroGravity View Post

 

 

 

I don't agree entirely on either view, and there are plenty of examples to support both cases. Yes 100%,  there are is physical traits (body type, muscle makeup etc) that lend themselves to particular activities. I will never be a sprinter, ever. With lots of practice I can to certain extent change my physical charateristics, but I have no desire to put in the effort it requires.  But even if one has these traits, without the opportunity to use them, or the desire, then that person will accomplish very little. I believe that opportunity (a la Outliers) plays a bigger role than genetic ability. I don't give much credence to a hard number like "10000 hours", but it does illustrate that some one who is willing puit in that kind of effort is probably serious about improving (except maybe golf) and is going to use that time for quality practice, unless they really like wasting several years of their life.

 

Skiing is a lot like that. I have seen top ranked kids drop out after K2/U16 because of time, school, money etc and others persevere despite not being top ranked and some end up doing quite well. I don't think that one can be slotted into solely into nature vs nature.

 

 

Now back to the topic of the OP, is that things like race camps and in certain elite teams (for lack of a better term) you are going to get the best that can afford to be there, not necessarily the best athletes.

Have you read The Sports Gene yet?

post #18 of 40

Nope, first I have heard of it. I will though. I assume by the large font declaring that it destroys Gladwell's assertions, that it  takes the opposite stance that we are genetically predispositioned and will only reach certain levels of physical prowess regardless of how much time we spend at it - golf however does appear to be like that for me,lol

 

The other one I want to read is The Gold Mine Effect by Rasmus Ankersen.

 

My point is that I don't believe that neither inate ability (genetics whatever) nor some hard number of hours is totally the case, that it lies somewhere in the middle. Some people have the ability to quickly acquire skills but never move up, and some people take longer but grind it out to greatness. I also particularly don't believe that early success leads to long term success and vice versa. I have seen plenty of athletes who are good when they are young simply fade or drop out, especially when others start to catch up and surpass them and others who never did well all that well when they were younger who go on to all levels of success.


Edited by ZeroGravity - 8/13/13 at 9:40am
post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeroGravity View Post

First I have heard of it. I will though. The other one I want to read is The Gold Mine Effect by Rasmus Ankersen.

 

My point is that I don't believe that neither inate ability (genetics whatever) nor some hard number of hours is totally the case, that it lies somewhere in the middle. Some people have the ability to quickly acquire skills but never move up, and some people take longer but grind it out to greatness.

 

Ok, well my point is that it's hard to disagree with something you haven't read yet. :-)

 

From the interview in Outside mag, I don't think Epstein is saying it's all genetics. It's an interesting take, and I won't lie that it appears to agree with my own observations, but it's far more nuanced than saying that genetics trumps all, either. From the other thread, most people agree that it's a combination of innate ability and hours training ... but the new book takes it farther than that. 

 

ANd yes, summer race camps are the best who can afford to be there ... or the best who can afford to be there who aren't already taking up summer performing another sport at a high level, etc.

post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

Ok, well my point is that it's hard to disagree with something you haven't read yet. :-)

From the interview in Outside mag, I don't think Epstein is saying it's all genetics. It's an interesting take, and I won't lie that it appears to agree with my own observations, but it's far more nuanced than saying that genetics trumps all, either. From the other thread, most people agree that it's a combination of innate ability and hours training ... but the new book takes it farther than that. 

ANd yes, summer race camps are the best who can afford to be there ... or the best who can afford to be there who aren't already taking up summer performing another sport at a high level, etc.

Gladwell of course is far more nuanced than the 10,000 'rule' as well. He doesn't start with 10,000 hours. The larger point is that exceptional access tends to lead to outlier outcomes with the building of hours/coaching/experience along the way.

The only essay about sports in Outliers IIRC is the first one about hockey where he shows statistically that Canadian professional hockey players are by great majority born toward the end of the calendar year. His point is that this is because the cutoff date is January first for any age group in a country that has a very developed junior hockey program. When kids are young, a year of physical development is huge, and the December qualifiers are likely to be bigger/stronger/faster than the January qualifiers because they are nearly a year older. In a sport where it is likely more important early on to be big and strong and fast than say a great stick handler, being born close to the cutoff date is only an advantage for the older side. To be born in January you might need to be a genetic outlier (bigger/faster/stronger at a younger age), but statistically you'd be in the minority for age-date at least in the population that Gladwell presents.

I suspect that hockey is a sport that magnifies this effect, but Gladwell didn't write a sports book and he only used a sports example that fits the mold. Even though it is obvious that genetics are a dominant factor in most sports, the hockey example was a point that even in athletes 'where you come from' (Canadian, older than age group peers by birthdate, access to very formal national level development program) can be as important as 'what you are' (a genetically gifted hockey player).

I'm not arguing Epstein's point (haven't read it, but will), just that the positioning (not yours) of raw genetics as opposed to 'Outliers' probably completely misses the point on both sides, despite grabbing some headline attention.
post #21 of 40

I think the use of the word Destroy in the article title is sensationalistic and misleading. What I get from reading the Outside article is more appropriately titled

 

How Athletes Get Great

Just train for 10,000 hours, right? Not quite. In his new book, author David Epstein argues that top-shelf athletic performance may be a more complicated formula than we’ve recently come to believe.

 

I think we are all heading to the same place, just from different directions. Also as pointed out above, Outliers isn't strictly concerned about athletics which has definite physical attributes, rather it uses the context to provide examples of like-minded community, opportunity and early success leading to greater opportunity in the context of sport giving the "haves" an advantage over the "have-nots".


Edited by ZeroGravity - 8/13/13 at 10:56am
post #22 of 40
Thread Starter 
Hmmmm...Did I mention that I thought the families were really nice?
post #23 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alveolus View Post

Hmmmm...Did I mention that I thought the families were really nice?

 

Were you able to watch those boys in your daughter's group ski?  If so, how did their skiing compare to your daughter's?  Are you familiar enough with skiing to evaluate her skiing compared to theirs?  Did the coach give you an idea of how she did compared to the usual kids who come to the camp?  

 

My point is I'm wondering if what you call athleticism might not correlate with the actual skiing skills these kids have.  You are asking this community this question, but perhaps you have the answer buried in your own observations somewhere.

post #24 of 40

I apologize if someone has made this point.  I am the father of two girls, one who stoped after J3 to pursue another sport full time and one that is U14 (new nomenclature).  I have coacheed soccer, tee ball, and softball.  Kids base athleticism is recognizable early and probably stays the same, but as their bodies change, their ultimate ability to implement a particular movement or play varies a lot in the early teen years.  The sooner they get to the final stages of maturity, the sooner they can perfect their skills without also battling puberty and body changes.    

post #25 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

 

Were you able to watch those boys in your daughter's group ski?  If so, how did their skiing compare to your daughter's?  Are you familiar enough with skiing to evaluate her skiing compared to theirs?  Did the coach give you an idea of how she did compared to the usual kids who come to the camp?  

 

My point is I'm wondering if what you call athleticism might not correlate with the actual skiing skills these kids have.  You are asking this community this question, but perhaps you have the answer buried in your own observations somewhere.


I got to watch video a couple of nights. My daughter was in the youngest, least skilled group. To my completely untrained eye, by the last day of camp my daughter appeared slightly better than one of her group, about even with a second and slightly worse than a third.  Again I believe that everyone in her group (or for that matter the whole camp) had spent at least a couple of years in the program - I know for sure that two of the boys in her group had spent two years in their "beginner beginner" program.  The coach was still saying that she would do well in the "advanced beginner" program. The one thing I can say is that she definitely had the most improvement over the 4 days. At first, I think she didn't really get the idea of being somewhat aggressive - she looked pretty nonchalant.

 

I think several factors play into what I believe I saw, and most are mentioned. I was mostly asking the question to get an idea if others thought the observation was valid, and if so their opinions of why. One of the biggest factors (i suspect) is the size of the "funnel" leading to those 35 or so kids at the camp. I would guess a lot fewer kids entered the skiing funnel to produce them than entered the basketball funnel to produce 5 high school JV starters. There may be a difference in average athletic ability at these midpoints in the funnel - but by the time it narrows to truly elite status the difference nearly disappears.

post #26 of 40

Suprised OP didn't mention the actual costs of THIS camp.

 

It's like wondering why the number of space astronauts have become statistically less athletic and why are celebrities and dotcom executives going into space instead of more "appropriate" scientists or athletic specimens.  

 

Many youth sports camps are more for fun/profit and an activity/opportunity welcoming to anyone that can afford to pay the bill.  It isn't the chinese government's olympic training program where you must compete and be chosen to attend.  Heck you can actually even visit your kid more than once/year!

 

Not to say the camp is a "scam".  But take a step back and consider if you must pay-to-play; this is a monetary transaction and money is the main factors.

post #27 of 40

I think the fact that skiing is an expensive sport as been covered. 
This is not an excuse for lack of athleticism tho. Even if THIS camp is expensive (not sure which one since Mt Hood as various ones) usually there are enough kids attending to be a statistically significant pool. (MHSSC has hundreds a session between race, freestyle, moguls, board). Or are you saying that to go to camps you must be rich and rich kids aren't athletic? 
 

post #28 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post

I think the fact that skiing is an expensive sport as been covered. 
This is not an excuse for lack of athleticism tho. Even if THIS camp is expensive (not sure which one since Mt Hood as various ones) usually there are enough kids attending to be a statistically significant pool. (MHSSC has hundreds a session between race, freestyle, moguls, board). Or are you saying that to go to camps you must be rich and rich kids aren't athletic? 
 

I don't think there is a negative correlation.  

 

So to clarify my point is that there is no correlation either way (athletic nor non-athletic) if the only requirement is you sign a check.  Some programs may have subtle sales jobs to make you feel "exclusive" (the who's who book strategy) but one has to evaluate and do some hard thinking to consider if you really are unique or just taking part of the clever marketing of our times that always wants to make everyone feel "special".

 

The original underlying assumption of the OP, that somehow he was expecting this camp would only have the cream of the crop elite athletes.  

post #29 of 40

gotcha. smile.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post

First, just because you are at a race camp doesn't mean you are the top dog.
On the contrary, from what I've seen the best kids go train on their own all around the world (I was in france a few weeks ago... there were canadians, koreans, spaniards, slovenians, french, etc.) the kids that go to "brand camps" often are the ones who go there to improve or searching for that magic thing that will make them faster.

post #30 of 40

How about a difffernt take on it. Did you get to see the same kids freeskiing? My experience is that there are a lot of kids who are great skiers, but not so great racers. The pressure of speed and having to turn at a certain place and time in a course makes them go rigid and they start riding their skis around a turn instead of working the ski around the turn. It makes them look like the don't know how to ski. Take them out of a course and put them on free run and a completely different skier.

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