10,000 hours

I spend the majority of my weekends at the lake during the summers. There’s just something about relaxing on the deck, with the sun out (Cue Nargs’s classic phrase “Sun’s out guns out”). We have a fair amount of family out in that neck of the woods, and there is one family in particular, that I spend a lot of time with. They have a cabin right beside ours, and are a young family with an athletic father and 3 pretty athletic boys. We ski together, golf together, play cards together, and pretty much make everything a competition. I respect the father quite a bit. He is a real athletic guy, has a good paying job at Farm Credit Canada, has a good sense of humour, great traps and dec pecks, pretty full head of hair with just a touch of grey which gives him that “salt and pepper, experience but still youthful look”, and probably an averaged sized bird. He’s pure hunk, and dare I say he could rival Shem on the hunkiness scale?!

One day while he was playing catch with one of his boys, I struck up a conversation with him about sports. His one boy is in 5 sporting activities (Hockey, Football, Baseball, Lacrosse, and Water Skiing). I wondered out loud which was a better approach, to put your kid in multiple sports, or just a single sport. I see benefits and drawbacks in each position. I’m sure we are all familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of 10,000 hours to become world class at something (There is some studies that don’t necessarily agree with that point click Here to see, but I think we can all agree that 10,000 hours of concentrated practice at something will make you above average at that ‘something’). So, what do you do? I like the idea of placing my kid in multiple activities to develop his athleticism as a whole, but I also like the idea of focusing on one type of skill and honing it (Studies have proved that multiple tasking is actually a lot less efficient than focusing solely on one thing at a time.(Click Here to read more about that ) This post is mainly to generate some discussion (and to get G baby off my back about contributing to the blog) and see what my intelligent peers think who have excelled in athletics, academics, and gay ass cat videos. Also this doesn’t have to be in regard to just athletics, we can incorporate things like art, music, public speaking, writing, etc. in here so the girls and Josh have something they can relate to…


8 thoughts on “10,000 hours

  1. That salt and pepper look is all we have to aspire to…. average sized bird, maybe not!Ha.I think the 10 000 hour rule definitely colors my perception of excellence and prowess. No one is just born amazing at anything – they got the chance to spend a lot of time doing something specific and the results are excellence. Now, if I spent 10 000 hours playing basketball, I would not be LeBron. But I'd be very good.My sister has a saying – Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard… Excellence = talent + practice. If you are naturally short on talent, practice to make it perfect!

  2. A nice 10k hours story for a guy from Sask. Well it's probably more than 10k; he just recently made his MLB pitching debut at the age of 27.


    Nobody from Sask makes it to the bigs (Albers is the first since 1991). He had to take some chances and get some breaks to get to where he his (Albers drove around the USA on his own dime just to get a chance to throw in front of big league teams). I think we can add at least two variables to @eeo361's equation. To go from small town Sask to pitching a shutout in your MLB debut, you also need a good amount of perseverance, and some luck.

    A more detailed write-up about Albers here. To Tay-Z's post: it looks like Albers dabbled in few sports as a kid. Also, maybe part of the reason Sask pumps out so few pro ball players is because it's hard to get in 10k hours when you can only play 5 months of the year?


  3. I can speak on behalf of the mediocre ones out there! I took part in many different sports and recreational activities growing up, and also spent time in music lessons and being a huge nerd in the academics department. Nowadays I feel thankful that I am able to participate with decent skills in a lot of casual activities with friends and family, and for overall fitness (tennis, skiing, wakeboarding, basketball, baseball, whatever arises).

    I definitely would feel more proud though if there was even just one thing at which I particularly excelled, or that could be my “identity”. Instead my tombstone will read (in Eeyore’s voice): “She was average yet well-rounded.” I’m ok with that!

  4. I had a football coach that would always yell (among other demoralizing comments directed at 12-year-olds, including to a tearful curly-haired child who missed a block: “good intentions mean nothing!”) “Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect” In other words, if we are simply repeating mediocrity 10000x, we will master mediocrity.

    In response to Tay-Z’s discussion, I’ve always been inclined to think that a diversity of experiences followed by honing in on the activities of most interest is a good course to take. I often wonder what drives someone to remain passionate about something, especially eccentric somethings (e.g. botany, darts, cup-stacking, free diving), to the point of becoming elite. Most people are passionate about things, but most people do not become elite at them. What’s different about the others?

  5. At an early age put your kid in gymnastics. Hopefully have him/ her put at least 3 years in competitively. This will give the kid a really solid foundation for any sport as physically they will be strong, fast, flexible, and balanced. Also he will learn discipline and dedication which he can apply to anything in life. ….All this claimed by a former gymnast who didn’t make it beyond being MVP in a modest sized small town high school, so nevermind.

  6. In response NJCB, whomever that may be, I often wonder about the obscure skills that people perfect. My old man is good at the stupidest shit, but makes it look great. Bocce, croquet, crokinole, ping pong, scrabble, pool, tennis, etc, but he is also good at everything else. We recently drove 24 hours to play in the World Crokinole Championships in Ontario, (the nerdiest thing I can think of), and he got 11th in the world. Eleventh. But those who were better than him, the champion John Conrad for example, were wildly good. Painfully good. 10,000 hours good. I bet he isn’t very good at everything else as my father is. So essentially your choice is World’s Best Crokinole Player, or just a normal human being who isn’t a legend in obscurity.

    Being ‘average yet well rounded’ as jmf8815 said, (I think I know who that is), is the best most of us can hope for, I think. And I think that is a pretty good place to be.

    Glad to have been told about your forum here. This is good news.

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