Picture: Hede, Crystal, Kate Russell, and Ron Weatherby. Senior Physical Education For Queensland. South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

It’s the question that we often ponder, particularly in regards to achieving greatness within athletic performance, what’s the difference between being good and great? Many people think that talent has a lot to do with it, others believe that hard work is enough to get you there.
The truth is that we need both. Gone are the days that you can have enough talent to get you through to reach the highest levels in sport, as you were once able to in Rugby League, Union, Cricket etc.
I recently read an interesting book that followed the academic achievement of children from different economic backgrounds. It compared how the kids progressed in their academic performance over the course of the year and then again once they got back from their summer vacation. The results of this study were quite staggering. What they found was that the lower class progressed the same if not better academically through the course of the year. However, the difference between lower and middle/upper class was what happened over the summer vacation. The middle/upper class were encouraged or put into programs to continue to progress their academic abilities, whereas the lower class were simply left to their own devices. In other words, the academic gap that occurred between lower and upper classes didn’t happen because of the school they went to or how smart they were, but occurred because of what they did over the two month break from school.
What can we learn from this? That practice is incredibly important. Physical fitness is different to academic ability obviously. You do need some talent when it comes to your sport. No matter how much I practice basketball I’m never going to get a start in the NBA at just 175cm tall. It’s a reality. However, where talent exists it’s about optimising that and making the most of it, through practice.
Unfortunately, the nature of physical performance is competitive. So in order to get better you generally have to spend more time practicing and training than your competitors. Like academics, one time of year that a kids athletic performance goes down is during the school holidays. That’s why staying on track during the school holidays is critical to ensure that things don’t plateau or even slip backwards.

~ Mark Blomeley
Equinox Performance and Fitness Coaching