Athlete Things That Require Zero Talent?

I've regularly seen lists of things that 'require zero talent' and they always look nice. Here is a list I referenced in a recent post.

The idea is that things like hustle, attitude, paying attention, being a good teammate, energy, body language and a range of other things, don't require 'talent'. Further, and this is the important bit, there is no reason for players not to be doing them, maximally, at all times.

Sure, being attentive doesn't take skill like passing does. Hustling isn't as hard as hitting. But these lists have always concerned me and I've finally worked out why.

The analogy I'll use is physical health and mental health. We acknowledge that someone with a sprained ankle can't 'hustle' or perform a skill well as when they don't have a sprained ankle. But in these lists we don't acknowledge that there might be less visually obvious reasons athletes struggle with things that require no 'talent'.

  • We don't acknowledge that someone under mental or emotional stress might not be able to 'hustle'
  • We don't acknowledge that a player with ADHD will have challenges 'paying attention'
  • We don't recognise that someone whose family life is stressful might have trouble being 'passionate' about practice
  • We don't accept that someone with upcoming exams might have trouble displaying the right 'energy'
  • We don't notice that someone who couldn't afford lunch isn't doing extra work
  • We don't realise that the reason someone isn't 'being a good teammate' is that they are being bullied at school by their teammates.
The mental and emotional effort to do things that require 'zero talent' can be completely overwhelming at times.

One thing that coaches can do that requires no 'talent' is to care for the well-being of their players. This means recognising all the things that are affecting the application and performance of the players.

If you are interested in improving your skills in this area, or have athletes who might benefit from learning how to managed their 'non-talent' attributes, this free information session might be right for you. Please put down Alexis Lebedew as the person who invited you :)


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