Talent vs Skill
Over the years I’ve heard many talk about talented surfers and their potential in the sport. But being talented doesn’t make future success inevitable, as our sport is littered with wasted talent – surfers who ripped as a 15 years of age, but faded into obscurity by their 20’s.
What happens to these talents?
What causes this loss of potential and future success?
To discover the likely cause, its relevant to understand the difference between talent and skill:
Talent: is a gift from our parents. If two genetic lines come together [one from mum, one from dad] and the chemistry is right, talent is created. In surfing, this could mean a higher level of athleticism, the ability to learn, decisive decision-making skills, and the ability to stay calm in difficult or dangerous situations.
Skill: is learned and created though deliberate practise. Skill is often more elusive than talent, as skill is earned.
I’ve witnessed lots of talent over the past 35 years talent, but many never realise their potential because they don’t do the work necessary to enhance their talent and continue their development. They “rest” on their innate abilities [the gift from their parents], which results in the eventual formation of performance barriers. And as they haven’t learnt how to work on their surfing, they rarely progress from that point.
Those talented surfers who learn how to train and love the developmental process, end up becoming the champions in our sport. Additionally and importantly, lessor talented surfers can achieve at a higher level than an inherently talented surfer, if they are focused when training and are prepared to work harder.
So the reality is, not everyone is talented, but skill is available to anyone who is prepared to work at it. As long as they care about the quality of their practice, and stick at it, skill is enhanced. And this results in the ability to catch better waves, perform bigger moves, and achieve more success on a daily basis.