Seeing Beneath Greatness


we-are-all-witnesses-lebron-james-546522_1024_768In a couple hours my son and I are going to see the Chosen One: Mr. LeBron Raymone James, live and in person, on his 25th birthday (Cleveland Cavaliers versus Atlanta Hawks). We’ll be sitting in the rafters, but we’re excited to see Him in action. After all, it isn’t often you get to see a guy who makes the world’s best basketballers look like helpless kids.

But what will we be seeing, really? Fast, fluent neural circuits James built through deep practice? God-given talents? How can we see beneath the performance, to the forces that created it?

I was thinking of these questions when I came across this video of an 11-year-old from Washington who’s supposed to be the Next LeBron. His name is JaShaun Agosto, and here’s what he can do:

It’s pretty dazzling. But here’s the kicker: JaShaun’s daily four-hour workout consists of the following:

  • mile run
  • 50 free throws without missing
  • half hour of layup drills
  • 250 jumpers without missing three in a row
  • ten different dribbling drills (some using two basketballs)
  • 200 push-ups
  • 200 sit-ups
  • 150 squat-thrusts

Many of you have probably heard about the new “virtual reality” software. Basically, you aim your iPhone camera at something in the real world — a shop, a restaurant — and up pops pertinent information, such as price or user ratings.

So here’s my impossible game-day wish: I wish that someone would invent a virtual-reality app for famous athletes. Here’s how it would work: we’d aim our iPhone at a Roger Federer or LeBron, and up would pop the number of hours they train, or a sample of their daily workout. It’d work equally well with famous musicians (what would the numbers show on Lady GaGa, I wonder?). Because behind every great performance is hidden a great practice routine.

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5 Responses to “Seeing Beneath Greatness”

  1. Neil Plimmer says:

    Great post, typifies deep pratice
    Read you book in the middle of last year, total inspiration
    My work as a golf coach sees me deal with people who have always thought they either had “it” or not!!
    Reading your book and researching the topic of talent development and deep/deliberate practice has changed my whole approach to player development
    Looking forward to seeing you speak at Woodhall Spa at the national coaching conference in a few weeks

  2. Sam Johnston says:


    I have just finished reading your book, and I must say it was a totally eye opening experience!

    I do have one question though; say, for arguments sake that we were able to get a dozen kids who were all extremely eager to learn, combined them with a master coach that could ignite their ambitions and sustain this ignition while guiding them through deep practice.

    These kids as they grow older would surely not develop at the same rate and their eventual success in whatever the domain would surely not be the same. It could not be in some examples where you can have only one number one in a sport for example.

    What do you think the deciding factor would be then, dare I say it; natural talent…?

    Brilliant work with the book, I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts!



  3. Jim says:

    Michael Jordan had a brother named Larry. He had the same “strength, athletic ability, and ambition as Michael, but larry didn’t have the same build to excel in sports.” Michael’s other brother James was 5’7. Lets hope Jashaun grows into some spectacular natural physical gifts: exceptional size, quickness or hops to go along with his diligently learned skill sets. If not, well I hope Jashaun practices just as hard his math skills. Lebron James at 5’7 would be no where near an NBA arena. You can’t teach or practice height despite ones diligent efforts, right?. But you can be an NBA Allstar when superhuman physical gifts are coupled with average basketball skills—think Shaq.

  4. Craig says:

    Not to miss the forest for the trees, but lets keep Lebron James and this kid out of the same sentence. He looks amazing but it’s people like you who doom the kid to perform below expectations and become a disappointment. Not everyone is able to become 6-8” and weigh 260 pounds on only 4-5% body fat. He’s 11 frickin’ years old. Let him find his own identity as a basketball player. Rucker Park is filled with some amazing talent, but not everyone has an NBA-made body, catches the right breaks, or has the right personality and demeanor to perform under the bright lights in the NBA.

  5. MarkSpizer says:

    great post as usual!

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