Track and field stars like Jessica Ennis, the current Olympic heptathlon champion, are recorded as putting in an incredible 10,000 hours of hard work in the four years of preparation leading to the Olympic Games, explains an article by Inside The Games, a world sport site.
The popular concept of 10,000 hours hit the limelight in 2008 with the release of Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller “Outliers: The Story of Success.” Recent studies have shown that this idea—to become the greatest at any given discipline, enormous time (an average of 10,000 hours) is required—rings true for many of the world’s most elite athletes.
In a study that included 100 elite athletes from the Olympic and Paralympic summer sports, we learn that the average athlete:
- Commits six hours a day, six days a week to training and competitions
- Has been working toward their Olympic or Paralympic goal for 11 years
- Seriously took up their sport at the age of 14 and now competes in seven international competitions per year
Another article from strengthplanet.com’s Judd Biasiotto, supports Gladwell’s theory and sheds additional light on what may be required to reach the world-class level.
Quoting research conducted by John Lather, a renowned sports researcher, Biasiotto’s article states, “The number one variable related to elite performance is time spent in training.” But not just time is required, Lather emphasizes that it is 20 hours of “quality training—with great intensity…that is required for elite performance.”
But what about attitude and ambition? Does an athlete’s psychological profile play into the equation? Biasiotto answers with, “World class athletes score low in tension, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion, but extremely high in self confidence, mental toughness, and determination.”
A survey of 367 elite athletes conducted by Richard Cox, author of “Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications,” agrees. “Motivation and commitment seems to be the common bond between world class athletes—they all tend to train with high intensity and purpose.”
So, keep running, cycling, swimming, and playing. Your high-quality time and training is getting you closer to your goals. And every time you choose an attitude of self-confidence, mental toughness, and determination, you are entering an entirely new playing field.