ARTICLE: How to grow a super athlete

A combination of cultural toughness and focused practice makes particular places fertile ground for producing world-class athletes. As an athlete practices, myelin wraps around nerve fibers. Each layer adds an infinitesimal bit more skill and speed. The article makes it sound like its myelin all the way down... more»
So even here, at the core of one of the globe's brightest talent blooms, the question of that talent's source remains enigmatically tangled, perhaps as much of a mystery to those who nurture these athletes as it is to the rest of us. It's enough to make you wish for a set of X-ray glasses that could reveal how these invisible forces of culture, history, genes, practice, coaching and belief work together to form that elemental material we call talent — to wish that science could come up with a way to see talent as a substance as tangible as muscle and bone, and whose inner workings we could someday attempt to understand. As it turns out, that's exactly what's happening.
Every talent, according to Ericsson, is the result of a single process: deliberative practice...[which] means working on technique, seeking constant critical feedback and focusing ruthlessly on improving weeknesses... As Ericsson succinctly puts it, 'there's no cell type that geniuses have that the rest of us don't.'