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"In an Olympic athlete, more and more we're lookin at a freak, an elite specimen who is not like you or me and who is fit to do one thing well - likely at the expense of other things."

Written by Bernd Heinrich in an article entitled "Endurance Predator" originally published in Outside magazine and found in the Best Science and Nature Writing of 2001. He further writes, " the real reason we saw Pre (Steve Prefontaine) and the others as heroes was that we secretly believed we were elementally equal. We were convinced that , if we only tried, if we did what they did, then we too could rank among the gods."

So, despite my about to do today's exercise - continuing my 100 pushup consecutive challenge, my pushing myself with dumbbells - despite my having recurves set with light form training limbs, heavy strength conditioning limbs and current competition weight limbs - I am not going to make it. I am not a freak of nature - existing at the upper ends of the Bell shaped curve of muscle training response, nerve physiological reaction, mental focus and concentration - I have not been an Elite archer and will not be one. So - what then?

Well - a Huge THANK YOU to the freaks of archery: Ki Bo Bae, Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski, Oh Jen Hyek, Michelli Frangelli, Rick McKinney, Casey Kauthold, Vic Wunderle, John Magera, Katuna Loring, et. al.. Thank You for inspiring me and leading me on to pursue as best as I have been able the sport I love. To learn to challenge myself, to humble myself, to help others and allow myself to be helped - to try and improve till I leave this place.

I have reached the age where I resemble the line from a Toby Keith song: Im not as good as I once was, but Im once as good as I ever was".
So, the dumbbells and pushups are calling me to rise from my chair and kiss the floor of exertion and effort. Later, fellow aspiring Elites.
 

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"In an Olympic athlete, more and more we're lookin at a freak, an elite specimen who is not like you or me and who is fit to do one thing well - likely at the expense of other things."

Written by Bernd Heinrich in an article entitled "Endurance Predator" originally published in Outside magazine and found in the Best Science and Nature Writing of 2001. He further writes, " the real reason we saw Pre (Steve Prefontaine) and the others as heroes was that we secretly believed we were elementally equal. We were convinced that , if we only tried, if we did what they did, then we too could rank among the gods."

So, despite my about to do today's exercise - continuing my 100 pushup consecutive challenge, my pushing myself with dumbbells - despite my having recurves set with light form training limbs, heavy strength conditioning limbs and current competition weight limbs - I am not going to make it. I am not a freak of nature - existing at the upper ends of the Bell shaped curve of muscle training response, nerve physiological reaction, mental focus and concentration - I have not been an Elite archer and will not be one. So - what then?

Well - a Huge THANK YOU to the freaks of archery: Ki Bo Bae, Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski, Oh Jen Hyek, Michelli Frangelli, Rick McKinney, Casey Kauthold, Vic Wunderle, John Magera, Katuna Loring, et. al.. Thank You for inspiring me and leading me on to pursue as best as I have been able the sport I love. To learn to challenge myself, to humble myself, to help others and allow myself to be helped - to try and improve till I leave this place.

I have reached the age where I resemble the line from a Toby Keith song: Im not as good as I once was, but Im once as good as I ever was".
So, the dumbbells and pushups are calling me to rise from my chair and kiss the floor of exertion and effort. Later, fellow aspiring Elites.
Beautifully painted. You've spoken for me, too.
 

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Oh yeah that rings true. No matter how much I loved to run (in the day) or swim or bicycle I could never even come close to even being mediocre compared to the elites in the sport. They showed the upper limits and you could learn a lot by watching them. In the end the problem is judging yourself against their standard. For most of us that just enjoy the sport we should judge ourselves against our own last good day.. we may never be scratch golfers but if I can beat the me that played yesterday I am in a good place. Striving for perfection whether you are at the top of the bunch or just ordinary is the game. It is the definition of "perfection" that changes.
 

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My motivation: I have never seen my abs before.
 

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You need to have and develop a freakish body type in order to do well at basketball or sumo wrestling. A gymnast needs to be light, fast, agile. None of this is true for archery. Anyone with reasonable strength and ability can succeed, even small, thin 90 pound Korean women can shoot beyond belief.

If you want to become an Olympic level archer, have you found a coach to help? Have you put in 10,000 hours or more of dedicated training? Have you reached a point where you are working primarily on your mental skills instead of doing push ups?
 

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Guys -

You need to have and develop a freakish body type in order to do well at basketball or sumo wrestling. A gymnast needs to be light, fast, agile. None of this is true for archery. Anyone with reasonable strength and ability can succeed, even small, thin 90 pound Korean women can shoot beyond belief.

If you want to become an Olympic level archer, have you found a coach to help? Have you put in 10,000 hours or more of dedicated training? Have you reached a point where you are working primarily on your mental skills instead of doing push ups?
This ^^^

While there might be some neurological differences that will facilitate "archery ability" (natural athletes) those differences exist in any activity. The fact is that most anyone can become an Olympian (in archery) if they have the time (resources) and the brains (determination) to do it. Problems arise when what's required conflicts with the shooter's mindset or what he wants or is willing to do.

Viper1 out.
 

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Of all the Olympic events, archery has one of the lowest "barriers to entry" in terms of physical ability. That is not to say you don't need to be an Olympic-class athlete to make it, but you don't necessarily have to be purpose-built for the sport either. In archery, whether you can become "Olympic-class" is mostly determined between one's own ears.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hmm, pushups vs mental training. I have been a licensed psychologist since 1976. Does that qualify...no, it does not. Understanding how the mind works doesn’t equate to controlling the mind. Before getting into target archery in 2009, at age 61, I had very good success in traditional archery 3D shoots. In 2015 and 2016, I won my class in Texas NFAA state championship. The same year at the Texas Shootout, I led a training center archer by 3 points in match play before I told him “wake up, you’re supposed to beat me”. Vic was laughing at his buds who were asking Who’s that old man?” So, yes, I do seek out training.

I Have train for strength at my age of 71. No, I have not conquered my mental game. After leading the first day at this years state meet, I choked and lost on the second. Tomorrow, a USA Para team member and myself are making a video for the Warrior Transition Battalion on, of,course, Mental Management. Oh, the irony...
 

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Genesis 21:20
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Steve, here's a tip... Olympians don't worry about the outcome of their current match. Because they are just using it as training for their next one. ;)
 

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I get what the general sentiment is amongst most of those in this thread. And I agree - up to a point. Each 'thing' (sport, music, surgeons, whatever) is a pyramid. The more you work with effort and zeal, the higher you go. Agree - consistent effort and attention is the key to high level achievement and results.

But, close to the top, there is a type of genius (which might be physical, it might be mental, it might be personality makeup) for that activity that is possessed by only the few who occupy the top circle - that separates the 'one for the ages' from 'the merely great'. A TON of major league baseball has been played over the last 120 years, but no way is just hard work and effort enough to get you a seat at this table ... https://youtu.be/BHmItcWFquQ .

When Greg Maddux was growing up, he and his older brother by 5 years, Mike, played all the sports. As he was finishing up high school, Mike was a highly recruited pitcher, with major league scouts were frequent visitors to his games. Mike ended up having a 'fairly good' major league career pitching career that lasted for 15 years. But, invariably, as the scouts would make their exit from the Maddux home or the local ballfield, they'd say to the boys' dad, "Mike's a good prospect - but it's the little one (Greg, the 12 year old) that I really want; I'll be back for him. He looked like every other normal run-of-the-mill 12 year old athletically, but his particular (but almost indefinable) genius was already in evidence.

Over the years, I read all of the many many Spenser novels by Robert Parker. In one of the early ones, Spenser was quizzing an old man down South about what had happened to a girl the old man grew up with in school. As they talked, the old man said "I've lived a long time, I've seen a lot of women. But Lilly ... only a couple others in my 75 years like Lilly. She just had that extra little wiggle - you know what I mean?" And Spenser smiled and replied "I do, brother. I surely do."

We all here "surely do", too.
 

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It has been a few year since I read an article written by an Olympic coach (not archery), and something he wrote stuck with me and still does. He wrote: "If you want to be the best... in your city, all you have to do is out work everyone else in your city; if you want to be the best in your state, then outwork everyone else in your state; and if you want to be the best ... in the world, you will have to outwork everyone else in the world." Obviously he didn't believe in being born great, and I really don't either.

Do people have natural talent and others don't? Yes that is true, but what natural talent gets you in the long run is a jump start. If you don't develop the work ethic necessary to get to level X, it doesn't matter how much natural talent you have you aren't going to get there. But someone without the natural talent develops the work ethic to get to level X, then he/she will eventually get there. It may take him/her longer, but they will still get there.

People look at Brady as an example for a lot in archery, and listening to many of his interviews, I have no doubt that the reason why Ellison is where he is at, is that no body outworks him. The man is completely obsessed with getting to the top, and doing whatever he needs to do to get there. That is why he is where he is at.
 

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I have been studying motor learning and control, and human performance for 40 years and I can assure you the answer is the same as every other correct answer with respect to any complex system. It depends. Certainly, there are individual differences in many areas that affect performance and for some people they align for a natural advantage. Can that be overcome or enhanced by hard, smart, work? Of course. Or by laziness.

What has always struck me as a fundamental truth is the range of individual differences on almost any measure of performance or behavior. In archery, I have always found it intriguing that many of the are so different. Different body types, form, and personality. In some sports certain body types, muscle fiber types, metabolic ranges, etc. do form something of a per-requisite for elite performance. Not so much in archery. More of it has to do with determination, hard work, and doing what I call "the hard thing" which is being willing to look at what you are doing and honestly assess whether it is getting you to your goals or not, and being willing to change whatever it is about yourself that is needed to get there than in other sports. It is much more dependent on what the individual is willing to give and do mentally than most sports. Maybe that is why we have so many unique champions.

I agree with the OP. Thanks, all of you oddballs who are our elite. Thanks for showing us what can be accomplished when you do the hard thing.
 

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I am a great believer in the 10,000 hour rule. it seems to apply to playing a musical instrument and doing other complex tasks such as archery. 10,000 hours does not mean you will beat Brady. It means you will start to approach your potential. Brady has exceeded the 10,000 hours several times over. You would need to put in that amount of effort to decide if your potential is that great. Chances are you will be close.

We often expect to achieve with a lot less effort than is really going to be required. Years ago I started a serious involvement with photography. Modern cameras are great. Many people, myself included, expect to take great pictures with minimal experience. Well, 10,000 hours later, I had a mastery of the camera and the basics of visual communication and composition. I could start to express creativity and my artistic vision through photography. Even then my skill level only carries me with landscape, macro and some similar subjects. I would need a whole lot more time to develop the skills for street or event photography or portraiture. It would be almost like going from a recurve to a compound. The greats spend a lifetime on their area of expertise. Why should we expect success with limited effort? Nor does it make sense to complain about the necessity of being a freak of nature to succeed.
 

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Talent in archery exist, and I'm glad to have seen it many times, and to coach it a few times. Talent in archery means persons that can easily win training 50 arrows a day against those that need >300 arrows/day to get just close to same result or score.
Talent need good coching to develop properly, and good (quality) training to get to the top of top.
Good coaching and a lot of training don't ever get to the same result, as some persons can get to the top, others will never.
I have had countless of times times different results starting at same time instructing and then coaching 2 archers of similar age and gender and endng up after a few years with toally different results, that I perfectly know that talent exists in our sport. But, talent need dedication to transform a normal archer to a super champion, and unfortunately dedication is less common than talent, in my personal experience.
My bit.
 

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I highly recommend the book, "The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance."
 

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Vittorio, we agree on talent existing in archery. It exists for sport, in general. There is a reason certain kids got picked before other kids in school, even for games none of them had experience playing.

But of course there are always those who want to argue there is no such thing, and believe the fairy tale that hard work alone is the answer. IMO that's insulting to all the people who have worked much, much harder than others, and still lost to them.

I love your quote "dedication is less common than talent." To me, that says it all.
 

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Talent in archery exist, and I'm glad to have seen it many times, and to coach it a few times. Talent in archery means persons that can easily win training 50 arrows a day against those that need >300 arrows/day to get just close to same result or score.
Talent need good coching to develop properly, and good (quality) training to get to the top of top.
Good coaching and a lot of training don't ever get to the same result, as some persons can get to the top, others will never.
I have had countless of times times different results starting at same time instructing and then coaching 2 archers of similar age and gender and endng up after a few years with toally different results, that I perfectly know that talent exists in our sport. But, talent need dedication to transform a normal archer to a super champion, and unfortunately dedication is less common than talent, in my personal experience.
My bit.
Agree with what your said. I imagine coaches in all kinds of sports have seen examples of your last sentence play out- where very talented people just wander away or don't want to put the effort in to become better. and in other cases some people working so hard to get better and struggling but they keep at it.
 

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Several of the most talented students I've had just lacked the passion for the sport, or were more interested in other sports.

Talent is one thing. Hard work is another. But you cannot replace passion for the sport with either of those for very long. In order to fully develop one's talent, they must put in the effort (work) and in order for one to put in the effort, they must have a passion for archery. Without that, it won't last.

The elite archers among us are not just the most talented or the hardest working. They are also the most passionate about the sport, which gives them the staying power to train long enough to realize their potential.
 

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The elite archers among us are not just the most talented or the hardest working. They are also the most passionate about the sport, which gives them the staying power to train long enough to realize their potential.
Very true. But the passion is like fire - without combustible and right conditions it will die. There is not just a coincidence that the best archers are the ones making a living from archery these days. Something needs to drive you when your Ego was satisfied.
 
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