Ten Thousand Hours?
The time needed to develop the specialization
— The 10 Year Rule
Many experts believe that it takes around ten years and at least 10,000 hours of training to reach elite levels. In the study by Tim Gibbons and Tammie Forster for the Athletic Development Program of the United States Olympic Center, “The Road to Excellence,” they provide a detailed view of the development of American Olympic athletes who competed between 1984 and 1998.
Take a test. Ask a friend how long it took them to reach the level they are today. In any area. Sports, medicine, engineering, whatever. — US Olympic athletes began their specific participation in sport at the average age of 12.0 for men and 11.5 for women.
The majority of Olympic athletes reported 12 to 13 years of talent development from the introduction to their sports to the formation of an Olympic team.
During the first five stages of development, Olympic medalists were 1.3 to 3.6 years younger than non-medalists, suggesting that medalists received specific motor skills development and training earlier. Nonetheless, care must be taken not to fall into the trap of early specialization in sports of late specialization.
It has been demonstrated that the 10-year rule also applies to the development of expertise in other fields, including music (Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Römer, 1993; Hayes, 1981; Sosniak, 1985), mathematics (Gustin, 1985), swimming. (Kalinowski, 1985), long-distance running (Wallingford, 1975), tennis (Monsaas, 1985), football, and field hockey (Helsen, Starkes, & Hodges, 1998).
Most data suggest that golf is a sport that takes 20 years to develop. On the other hand, the 10,000-hour rule is still highly debatable in the research field (some surveys show 4,000 hours, some show 6,000 hours), but all studies suggest that a significant investment in time is needed. Much of the debate over how many hours are required is due to the lack of agreement among experts on what they consider to be practical.
Tiger Woods started to practice and play golf when he was 1 and 1/2 years old. The first time he won in international competition as a professional was 17 years later, ok, we found someone who broke the 20-year rule for golf. Bobby Fischer won his first American championship at age 12 and is considered one of the best chess players in American history.
All of this is about becoming an expert.
An expert by definition is when someone competes internationally or wins at a professional level.
Another interesting fact is that it matters a lot what the athlete did before reaching the expert level. When you are young, other sports practice is essential for motor development and contributes to avoiding early specialization.