How do you measure potential? What factors determine "elite"? The factors are multi-faceted, and not always definitive or easy to measure. 

Pro/Elite Athletes are not born – they are made.

However, among millions of amateur athletes, only a handful can turn to be as pro athlete status.

So what makes the difference in performance between a pro & amateur? [The explanation is the outcome of a conversation with my coach George Ganoung - former Olympic cyclist from team USA)

It’s a question that is really tough to answer! Scientists have been struggling with this for years.

How do you measure potential? What factors determine "elite"? The factors are multi-faceted, and not always definitive or easy to measure. 

Genetics:  In general - genetics play a big factor, some folks are more predisposed towards being "good": characteristics such as height, body type, flexibility and how efficiently they can intake and process oxygen, body tissue makeup, how economical they are with motion etc.

Practice Hours: Sport specific experience is big factor, how much time an athlete has spent on task and how skilled they are in their craft.

Focused Training: Training is obviously a factor, again aligned with experience above, and training can influence may of the physiological factors outlined as well, especially things like oxygen intake, economy and efficiency.

Stimulus: Some athletes also benefit from training stimulus more than others, or certain types of training. Some athletes can see more or less gains from the same overall workload or from different types of stimulus.

The Most Critical Factor: Mental toughness and "grit" are huge factors that are tough to measure. How well athletes deal with setbacks and "bad" days. How they respond to pressure and setbacks or if things get really tough.

Discipline: Similar on the mental front, how disciplined an athlete is in terms of listening to their body and/or coaches and knowing when to rest and when to push hard.

Being a good student of the sport and not just rationalizing what they "want" to do but what they “need" to do for long term success. A lot of athletes if left on their own will just try to go hard all the time and never understand that balance is important and that slower and easier days are important as well.

The highest level elites, generally have it all: they are genetically gifted, have a good work ethic, respond well to training, are driven yet disciplined and deal well with adversity.

Most folks have strengths in certain areas and weaknesses in others and they do their best to maximize their characteristics they can control.

So athletes with fewer genetic gifts can often surpass more gifted athletes through proper training etc. if the more gifted athletes are not as focused or have shortcomings in other areas. The old saying goes: "Work beats talent if talent doesn't work"

A lot of these are observed traits based on experience from athletes and coaches, but not necessarily proven in a study or measurable. 

Of all these, I think "grit" and how badly people want to succeed, how focused they stay on a target, and how well they deal with setbacks is a huge part of things, but very difficult to measure.

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