Are we all equal when it comes to sport? Should you venture into a specific discipline based on your body type? Michel Gillot, coach and physical trainer at INSEP, answers these questions in this article.
- Are genetics crucial to excelling in your sport?
- The importance of practicing sports throughout your life
- Genetics plays a more or less important role depending on the discipline
Are genetics crucial to excelling in your sport?
Yes, genetics are decisive, because you have a genetic heritage and a morphotype specific to you, which can be, for certain disciplines, an obstacle to great performance. For example in weightlifting, if you have very long femurs, you may be strong and train very hard, but in terms of leverage and mechanics you will be at a huge disadvantage compared to someone with a long torso and short femurs.
No, genetics are not decisive, because you can modify your body in order to progress and achieve performance. Man is the only species capable of programming structured training to be able to adapt and develop. For example, for hypertrophy: the athlete needs more strength. He then sets up a programmed, well-thought-out training course, with a suitable methodology. The exercises will modify what is visible and we will be able to observe an increase in muscle mass. Thanks to these processes and training methods, the body will evolve and having more strength will make it possible to lift heavier, for example.
The importance of practicing sports throughout your life
Your sporting practice today will allow you to optimize your sporting discipline tomorrow. This is why your sporting past is decisive for your future and what you will do as an adult or throughout your career.
In addition, there is a golden age for the development of certain qualities. Even with physical potential and good genetics, if you work on the wrong qualities at the wrong time, you can decrease or even cancel your performance. When you are a child (6-7 years old) for example, it is recommended to work on speed qualities. If at this time, you work on your endurance rather than your speed, you risk weakening and reducing your potential as a future athlete.
Genetics plays a more or less important role depending on the discipline
If you choose a discipline where the physical prerequisites are less but the psychological level is important (capacity for concentration, attention), my genetic heritage will be less essential. So for a sport like archery for example, your genetics will be very unimportant.
In conclusion, genetics are important depending on the discipline chosen and your sporting past. Body type and genes determine a lot for strength disciplines. However, depending on the sport practiced, we are able to organize a training program which will allow certain physical qualities to be developed in order to catch up or even consolidate the delay in relation to a genetically gifted athlete. It is often said that work can make up for talent, but a talented person who works will be even stronger.