Here’s another book I’ve consumed in audio format – The Best: How Elite Athletes Are Made by A. Mark Williams and Tim Wigmore. I’m going to start off with a grumble, because everything else I have to say is pretty positive. The narrator – a Brit – did some really annoying accents when voicing interview quotes from the text – especially the non-British ones (at least to my ear). If that’s the sort of thing likely to bother you, don’t go for the audio version.

Now on to the actual content.

The first part focuses mainly on what you could describe as talent ID and development. These are things like how birth order and number/type of siblings, when someone is born during the year, and where they grow up and/or go to school influences outcomes. I’ve heard most of it before, so no real surprises. Interesting nevertheless.

The second part gets into more of what elite athletes actually do. We can call this coachable stuff – meaning stuff we can coach. The first couple chapters focus on reading, game IQ, sports psychology, and related concepts. The authors note that elite athletes have the same base reaction time as anyone else in their age group. Their quickness in reacting in a game context comes from having developed anticipatory skills. And over all there’s a lot weaved through on player’s looking in the right place for the right amount of time.

In Part Three the focus shifts to training. There’s a bunch in these chapters on deliberate practice, the Constraints Led Approach, and feedback. Again, nothing I haven’t heard/read before, but for someone less up on the subjects it could be quite informative.

Overall, I found The Best: How Elite Athletes Are Made quite interesting and worth my listening.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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