Too Much Talent Is A Dangerous Thing

At Swim Smooth we are firm believers that anyone can become a strong swimmer, whether swimming comes easily to you or if it takes you a little longer to get there.

Of course it's only natural that if you are frustrated with your lack of swim speed then you may be wishing you were more talented. But have you considered that there is a certain virtue and satisfaction at having to really work at something to get results?

We need to recognise that whether you are talented or not, to reach your ultimate potential requires hard work and dedication. That's true of any pursuit whether it's swimming, acting or playing chess. One of the problems of being talented is that you may become better than those around you without much effort at all. So much so that you don't really value the achievement. Easy come, easy go.

One of our favourite sporting quotes.

As coaches we see this distinction in athletes all the time - oftentimes the most talented swimmers lack motivation. They don't value their time in the water and quit the sport when it all becomes a bit like hard work.

Meanwhile the less talented but dedicated athletes enjoy every improvement and embrace the hard work as part of the journey. They value the experience they are gaining as they go and the hard work actually becomes something to be enjoyed for its own sake. These are the people who never retire - they swim or bake or teach for life because they get great satisfaction from it, it actually gets in their soul, part of who they are. They self actualise.

There is a certain mindset that develops with consistent hard work - a mental skill if you like, something that will never leave you. Have you noticed that the people who are always talking about how hard they are training are actually the ones struggling with the effort of it all? It's the quiet athletes who just get on with the work that you've got to watch. They are the ones that have developed that mental skill for consistent hard work, truly reach their potential and achieve the ultimate results.

We know which athlete we'd rather be.

Swim Smooth!


Unknown said...

Yes. It's a beautiful sport at what ever level your at. Consistency and hard work pay off in the end. Pushing through a period when my freestyle fell to pieces, I turned to backstroke, mainly, for six months, just to stay in there. Then my free came back with early vertical forearm, high elbow. I'd been unconsciously relearning my stroke, losing old style wrap around s pull.

Randal Gibbs said...

This is a good point. It seems that talented athletes lack the motivation, thus they do not excel. However, there are also individuals who are talented but has the motivation to improve. Maybe no motivation is dangerous.

Alison said...

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry reading this blog, as you describe so well my two daughters, the older by 4 years (D3 swimmer), being the "hard worker", and the younger being the talented, everything comes easy to swimmer. My older daughter has cited the Tim Notke quote many a time, and when i read out loud to her the sentence "But have you considered that there is a certain virtue and satisfaction at having to really work at something to get results?", we couldn't stop laughing, because we were in the middle of their summer district championships, her younger sister having only been back in the pool for barely 8 weeks after taking almost 3 months off, finishing top 3 in her age group in her best events, so my older daughter was like NO, I have NOT considered there is a certain virtue in hard work, I would take talent any day! Your points are very well taken though, and while my younger daughter works very hard when she is actually in the pool, I could not even think of showing this to her, because she just can't/won't see what we see, and would certainly not be laughing. And at the moment, is just not interested in the extra work it would take to be first, not second or third. But she has also come a long way, and her dedication and motivation is improving, she is still young(14), and anything is still possible. Only time will tell. But in the meanwhile, I very much agree with you, for my older daughter, she has already in so many ways seen the benefits of her dedication and hard work, perhaps not in the swim times she would love to have, but in so many other important ways that will serve her very well in this tough world we live in.

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