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What counts more: natural talent or hard work?

It’s an age-old debate: natural talent or hard work? Which is most important, in the making of a premier athlete?

We know the truth: both.

The world’s top athletes bring tremendous natural ability to their games; they have coordination, speed and naturally-athletic bodies. Their minds assess all the moving parts of the game with lightening speed, projecting their bodies to optimal positions… coordinating their feet, body, hands and heads in a symphony of perfect balance. Soccer, in particular, is so fluid – there is no starting and stopping.

It’s all about instinct and reaction. Executing the perfect play is about putting yourself in the same situation again and again, so it becomes automatic (practice, practice, practice).

But it’s also about an almost indescribable confluence of mind, body and even spirit. This is the magic top athletes consistently deliver, and why so many people love to watch them.

But between the prodigal Lionel Messis and Michael Jordans and the “Rudys” of the world – those hard-working benchwarmers who toil relentlessly for glimmers of triumph – are lots of other players. Some working hard, some not, exploiting varying degrees of talent with varying levels of success. And many factors – beyond genetics – shape how and whether those athletes develop and thrive.

> read entire article on SoccerNation