Ever wondered what the most important factor is out of these three? Strength, Stamina or Skill?
Short answer, SKILL.
During the last decades, there has been an increasing interest in the question whether the brain of elite athletes is different in terms of structure and function. It turns out that most professional athletes have extraordinary skills for rapidly learning complex and neutral dynamic visual scenes.
A recent study using brain imaging showed alternated white matter microstructure in brain regions that are crucial for voluntary control of movements in karate experts as compared to karate novices. To the extent that elite athletes have increased cortical thickness in a few areas of the brain and that this increased anatomical volume is correlated with the level of expertise.
With regard to brain functioning, recent studies focused on neurocognitive performance of athletes in order to investigate whether years of training or innate inter-individual differences in neurocognitive functioning are associated with superior sports performance.
For example, studies report on superior abilities of elite athletes on sport-specific perceptual abilities, visual skills and attention.
It could be suggested that another important neurocognitive function in sports is the ability to acquire complex movements. A recent study investigated motor learning in elite and sub-elite gymnasts and found that learning rate on sport-specific motor skills predicted competition ranking in later years.
Which is a way of saying, the more you enjoy an activity, sport or career, the more likely you are to excel at it. So double down on what you enjoy, because science says you’ll be good at it.
Key to all of this? Be a kid again, do more of what you actually enjoy.
Verburgh, L., E. J. A. Scherder, P. A. M. Van Lange, and J. Oosterlaan. "The Key to Success in Elite Athletes? Explicit and Implicit Motor Learning in Youth Elite and Non-elite Soccer Players." Journal of Sports Sciences 34.18 (2016): 1782-790. Web.
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