15 Nov Hockey Skills: Nature or Nurture
Well, the age old nature/nurture question seems to have found it’s way into hockey these days! For those of you sitting at the “back of the class” right now, not sure what nature/nurture is, it’s a debate as old as time as to whether talent is hard wired based on genetics (nature) or can be developed through the right environment (nurture).
It seems that we are at the stage now where we can no longer take the suspense of whether or not little Timmy will make it to the draft day. Like everything else in society, we want answers and we want them now, so companies like Atlas Gene and Ai Biotech (http://www.aibiotech.com/global/) capitalize on this and come out with Genetic Testing for sports, thats right send out $200 dollars and we send you a swab so you can find out whther you should waste your time and money putting your kid through years of cold rinks and 7 am practices! This only leads me to one question…Are you serious?
Is anyone else’s mind racing with the implications of this all?
How many hockey parents do you think would be first in line to swab their little one, waiting eagerly by the mailbox to get the “million dollar” results? Tons of them! Imagine not having to wait until the last chapter to find out the end of the story? There is only one problem… little bits of DNA do not hold all the answers as they cannot account for the feats of spontaneous greatness that come from the human spirit! I wonder how many of our greats like Guy Lafleur, Bobby Orr or Bobby Clarke for that matter would have passed the test with flying colours. If the test was really that reputable, wouldn’t they go after a slew of these greats and conduct the test to show how accurate they are? Great marketing no?
Anyone that has ever watched Ethan Hawke in Gattica can tell you, the heart goes a long way further than the mighty gene! While these genetic markers can point at pre-dispositions, genes are by no means a crystal ball! My late pal Igor Korolev used to always say how he tried so hard to get those first 4 steps to accelerate from a standstill, but didn’t have the explosive muscle fibres. Through the right coaching, he was taught to play around such things and develop other avenues like puck protection and being strong on the puck. “Nuture” let him play the game he loved for years at the highest level as a very effective centerman, where he surely would have failed the test for a few of the specific genetic “hockey” markers!
Moral of the story, there is more to talent than our hereditary past… Much more!
Tune in next time when we have a closer look at skill development in the neuromuscular department when we visit our good friend myelin.