What Makes a great Sportsman (or Woman)
What makes a great footballer, soccer player, Ice Hockey player etc…? I’ll tell you. The same things what are needed to be great at anything.
2: Hard work and Practice
3: The right attitude
4: A bit of luck.
Firstly the opportunity to love, learn and watch the game you choose to play. Motivational significant others talking football (or any sport), watching football, explaining football and passing on a love and feeling for the game is essential. The earlier the motivational influence starts the greater the opportunity to practice and learn.
You need the opportunity to practice at home, in teams and with good coaches. Not just any practice though, practice with the purpose of improving. Mathew Galdwell and Martin Syed cover the importance of practice in their respective books Outliers and Bounce. Both outline the virtues of 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in anything. I would highly recommend reading at least one of these books if you are or own an aspiring sports star. (Bounce is an easier read and covers a bit of the physiological requirements)
You need the opportunity to be spotted by a coach, scout or academy. This is a bit harder and may need that bit of luck. English Football academies are getting better at getting into schools and providing an opportunity but the best way is to play in summer tournaments. I am sure other sports in the USA and UK (or for that matter across the world) have their own techniques for spotting talent. However if you think you have what it takes and haven’t been spotted actively seek the opportunity and don’t give up until you have been seen.
You need opportunity to physically travel to an academy 3 to 4 times a week. If your parents (normally due to the day-to-day commitments in life can't give the opportunity then it's not going to help. This is a tough one. Sport organisations need to get wise to this otherwise they will end up with a bunch of middle class sports stars. Sports organisation need to be more proactive in ensuring they don’t miss out on talent and support those parents who need it.
So what about items 2, 3, 4 from above. To be honest once the opportunities fall into place its down to the individual to work, practice and make the most of the opportunities given.The right attitude and determination to succeed will get you even further. Finally the luck thing may be as simple as someone’s having an opinion on your talent or even the month you were born (check the books mentioned for more)
Ultimately though to become a top sportsman you need to be provided with opportunities and once you have them you need to take them by practicing for hours – 10000 hours