Talent and Skill

I have written on this topic a number of times but the following quotation really hit home for me.

“I’ve never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is this: ridiculous, sickening work ethic. While the other guy is sleeping, I’m working. While the other guy is eating, I’m working […] The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, have dreams, want to do things. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” Will Smith, Actor

As coaches, I think there needs to be a conscious switch flipped after your student has developed a shot and has become fairly consistent. From that point onward, skill acquisition should be placed ahead of technique refinements. After a good set of archery skills are acquired, they can cycle through the whole thing again.

There is another saying that “practice without talent beats talent without practice.” So Mr. Smith is emphasizing the role of hard work in skill acquisition, which, I think, has little to do with “talent” or whatever passes for talent in your mind.

All of our serious students need to have a growth mindset fostered in them. They need to believe down to their bones that “I can get better.” And they need to know if they are not getting better through effort, their competitors are.

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