1. What are the chances of becoming a world class athlete?
Actually, not very good. Less then one percent of all athletes who participate in competitive sports ever reach an elite level. As an example, consider the odds of making it in professional basketball. Each year approximately 250,000 high school seniors participate in inter-scholastic basketball. Of these seniors, approximately 12,000 will receive college scholarships. Out of that 12,000 around 200 players will be drafted by the N.B.A.; but only about 50 will actually be offered a contract. Of these fifty, only five will eventually earn a starting position. Of these five, only two will stay in the N.B.A. for more then five years. Unfortunately the odds of making it big in any other sport are not much better.
2. What does it take to reach a world class level?
According to John Lather, a renowned sports researcher, the number one variable related to elite performance is time spent in training. Lather estimates that 20 hours of quality training per week for a period of eight years (approximately 10,000 cumulative hours) appears to be the amount of work required to reach a world class level. Lather emphasizes that it is 20 hours of quality training - with great intensity, not just the time spent in training that is required for elite performance.
3. How many hours do world class athletes train?
It has been established that the average world class athlete trains approximately 23 hours a week. Interestingly, the average athlete in America trains approximately 12 hours a week.
4. Do world class athletes train the same way?
Surprisingly, no! A survey conducted by Richard Cox of 367 elite athletes revealed that although they apply basically the same principles of training - progressive resistance and the overload principle - few elite athletes actually train the same way. In fact, there is a large variance in their training methods. Again, motivation and commitment seems to be the common bond between world class athletes - they all tend to train with high intensity and purpose.
5. How many hours do world class athletes sleep?
According to researchers Martin Miller and Judd Biasiotto (that's me) world class athletes sleep an average of 520 minutes per night - 8.75 hours a night. That is approximately an hour more sleep than what researchers Frederick Backeland and Ernest Hartmann found for the average person. According to those researchers, the average person sleeps 7.5 hours per night.
6. Are world-class athletes intelligent?
In general, superior athletes possess average and above average l.Q.'s. For example, in a recent study of the intelligence levels of elite athletes in Europe, their average l.Q. was found to be 112 (S.D. 9.0). In similar studies conducted in America, the l.Q. of superior athletes ranged on average from 96 to 107.
7. Do world class athletes have esoteric information that affords them a greater opportunity for success?
No! A survey conducted by Martin Miller of 427 world class athletes revealed that they did not have access to any information that the general public could not attain. However, it was found that elite athletes have a greater knowledge of the available information. They also use the information to benefit their performance more so than non elite athletes. In other words, world class athletes are more knowledgeable about their sport because they study more, not because they have access to esoteric information.
8. How long do world class athletes play their sport?
The average world-class athlete retires from his sport at the age of 33. Incredibly, the average NFL player is retired by the age of 28, the average world-class wrestler by 24, and the average elite gymnast by 19.
9. What is the life expectancy of world class athletes?
Not so good. The average elite athlete will die by the age of 67. That is considerably lower then the 76 year life expectancy of the average American. Do you want to hear something that is really scary? According to the NFL Players Association, the average life expectancy of an NFL player is 58 years of age.
10. What is the marital status of world class athletes?
Elite athletes marry at about the same rate (73%) as everyone else, but their divorce rate is considerably higher. A recent study revealed that 57% of the marriages of elite athletes ends in divorce. It might also be noted that many of these divorces take place during the first year following retirement. For example, the NFL Players Associaffon estimates that during the first year following termination, 50% of the marriages of ex-professional football players end in divorce.
11. Are World Class athletes sexually active?
Yes! According to studies conducted by Phillip Whitten and Elizabeth Whiteside, the average world class athlete engages in sexual intercourse 3.4 times a week. That frequency is significantly higher then Alfred Kinsey reported for men and women of the same age (20's and 30's). According to Kinsey most people in that age bracket engage in sexual coitus 7 times a month and/or 1.7 times a week.
12. What is the personality profile of a world class athlete?
According to a review of the research literature by William Morgan, the psychological profiles of elite athletes are superior to those found for lower classification athletes and the normal population. In terms of psychological states, world class athletes score low in tension, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion, but extremely high in self confidence, mental toughness, and determination. This psychological profile is distinctly different from the profiles found for non-elite athletes and the normal population. Interestingly, non elite athletes have just about the same psychological profile as the normal population. They tend to experience more anxiety, confusion, depression, fatigue and anger then their elite counterpart. They also exhibit significantly less confidence, mental toughness and determination.
13. What is the physical profile of a world class athlete?
The average world class athlete is 6'1" tall and weights 217 pounds. His chest is 43", arm 15.3", waist 31", legs 26.8",and calf 16.4".
14. Do all world class athletes use steroids?
No! Although there is strong evidence to indicate that many world class athletes use performance enhancing drugs, there is no evidence to indicate that all elite athletes use such drugs. In fact, recent estimates indicate that approximately 40% of elite athletes never used performance enhancing drugs.
15. Are world class athletes highly respected?
In general, yes. However, there is considerable research, which indicates that the normal population tends to perceive elite athletes as being egotistical, aggressive, and intellectually inferior. Also, there is a linear relationship between performance and acclamation. In other words, accolades are contingent upon performance - no performance - no accolades. Many athletes in retirement find this very phenomenon a bitter pill to swallow.
Yours in strength,