Success = Genetics x Environment

By Nunzio Signore (B.A. / N.A.S.M. / F.M.S. / P.E.S.)

Split Squats_

I get tired of hearing people say “his father was an ex All–American” or “that entire family is athletic”.

True, genetics does play a part in an athlete’s development, but being great isn’t just about winning the genetic lottery.  It’s a combination of a few other things that are equally important and sometimes trump genetics completely.

I recently read the book “Talent is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin in which he talks about genetics (born with it) and environment with “deliberate practice” (we’ll get back to this in a minute).  Colvin said that it basically boils down to this simple equation:

Success = Genetics x Environment  (w/ Deliberate Practice)       

I sat back and applied the concept to what I see every day inside RPP.

An athlete with a parent who played pro ball would more than likely be a Genetic “10”.  But if he or she doesn’t play sports or sits around after school and watches TV all day that would give them an Environment score of “1”.  So this athlete’s score would be 10×1=10.

On the other hand we see a lot of “5’s” in the gym that given a great Environment, valued at a “10” with “deliberate practice” (more later…be patient!), would look like 5×10=50.

Figuring out the right environment is paramount in helping your child develop and grow athletically.  So what makes a great Environment?

Open Space – Open space has been shown to give an “athletic/outdoor” feel that not only helps absorb the “big” personalities but helps the more insecure not feel so stared upon.

A Coach with a Positive Attitude – Kids are sponges and they can feed completely off of the attitude of their coach.  If the coach is boring, the athlete will get bored.  But a supportive, energetic coach that can supply feedback on results can make any situation motivating.


And this brings me to my last point:

Deliberate Practice – The body is always trying to get better at exactly what you practice.  At RPP, we coach proper movement and correct bad habits rather than allow our athletes to get really good at moving bad!!

Just because we practice doesn’t mean we get better at something.  Bad habits need to be addressed and corrected.  There is a big difference between practice and “deliberate practice”.  Deliberate practice improves your game, while practice just continues with the same old.  Eric Schoenberg at Momentum Physical Therapy summarizes it this way:.


Reproduces faulty movement

Generally focuses on a person’s strength




Deliberate Practice

Corrects faulty movement patterns

Works on addressing weaknesses


Mentally exhausting


Results in drastic improvement over time.

At RPP, we are 100% focused on “deliberate practice”.  Our trainer to athlete ratio is high so that even in group sessions the young athletes get the individualized attention they need to correct faulty movement and work on weaknesses.

So the take home is this.  Placing an athlete in a motivating environment with wide Open Space, along with a Coach with a Positive Attitude that enforces proper movement mechanics (Deliberate Practice) can go a long way in making an already great athlete even greater and bring out the best in us “mere mortals”.  And by the way, 99% of us are mere mortals.