SEAN VAN STADEN | SPORTS COLUMNIST
For purposes of levelling the playing fields, we will deliberately leave “good genetics” out of the equation.
Is there some secret sporting code that Dan Brown hasn’t released yet or perhaps the Russians have a secret laboratory called Spartak which is producing some of the world top tennis players like Anna Kournikova? Or is Malcom Gladwell on to something when he says that you need to put in 10 000 quality hours to reach success?
The famous Russian Spartak tennis academy students, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Vanessa Mae all have something in common… they all started from a very young age. In wanting to build a future springbok, could it be as simple as starting to training a ‘bokkie’ from the age of 5 years old. Clock in two quality hours a day, seven days a week for fourteen and half years. Will this ensure that by age 20 he will run out onto the field with sixty thousand screaming fans cheering him on? I am afraid not…
This is only part of a fraction of the grand design. The best way to describe the process is that it is like building a sports car. The car doesn’t just appear out of fresh air. First come the goals of what you want to create. Research follows into all the latest technologies and tools available in building a super car. A team of specialists are recruited even in the infant stages of development because this is probably the most critical part in the production process. After many hours and many years of development, changing course and even moments of nostalgia, sometimes even despair, a prototype emerges. The prototype is not the complete product because it has not gone through the fine tuning phase. Only once another team of experts critique the car and have given constructive criticism, can adaptions be made in bringing the best out of the machine. The minute the super car races off into the sunset, the design team goes back to the drawing board to try and find ways of taking the current performance to another level.
I have used a simple car analogy to explain that in building a Springbok, the child needs to start at a young age in a competitive free environment, developing and refining his “tekhnika’ (technique) as the Russian Spartak academy emphasize. He needs a good sports scientist to assist in his phased development, he needs to participate in a variety of complimentary sports in building his skills sets. He needs top quality coaches who focus on his specific needs, a good support structure and environment to excel in. Lets not forgot other key ingredients such as having fun, a have passion for what he does and lot of rest and recovery!
These are just some of the factors in building a springbok. On paper and in theory it seems pretty simple and straight forward but in reality it takes a special person, some special people and a bit of luck in building a springbok.
Sean is a sports scientist and director of Advanced Sports Performance.
Catch his column in The Citizen every fortnight.
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