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Genetics May Play a Role in Athletic Performance But it Isn’t a Sole Factor

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There have been a number of sports professionals who have been blessed with the desirable athletic abilities and skills that many mere mortals could only ever have hoped to have been provided with.

Whilst many will appear to have been given God-like natural ability, there is a discussion as to whether genetics has played a role in providing them with the skillset and the edge over a number of others.

Of course, an argument could be had suggesting that genetics has not been a precursor at times, as there have been a number of sports stars who have not been as successful as their parents may have been, although there is no denying that athletic performance can be a related trait and one that is influenced heavily.

However, it would also seem that the environment that they have been training in could play a huge role, as well. Therefore, we take a look at the two factors that have been identified as being influential by scientists that have studied the complex nature that athletic performance can be derived from.

Environmental factors

Let’s take a look at the environmental factors that can be at play first and have an influence on the athletic ability of an individual, as these are variables that can be controlled and can be improved by training and conditioning, as well as being influenced by things that can have an impact from the outside world.

Training is clearly an important factor as competitors are only able to get better by putting in the effort and getting the required practice that they need. Indeed, the NFL is perhaps one of the most demanding competitive sports as individuals need to be in peak physical condition as many of them will go through a series of drills during the NFL Draft. If they perform well by adapting and learning from the training regimes that have been set out, they will be able to potentially make the league, whilst having a big impact on the draft order.

Of course, age, the level of support from family and coaches, economic support and the availability of resources will all be crucial in ensuring an individual is able to excel in athletic performance, as well. If even just one of these factors is not quite right, then the perfect environment in which to influence positive athletic performance will not exist.

Genetics will clearly play a role

It is, though, impossible to ever deny that genetics will play a role in determining the overall athletic performance of an individual. Indeed, it might be hard to suggest that it plays the biggest role as there have been many that have been unable to reach the same level that their parents may have been able to achieve, although there have been some who have managed to eclipse what has been achieved.

The NFL is just one sport that has had a number of generations compete in the league over the years, with families such as the Manning’s, the Matthews’, the Ryan’s and the Long’s all having had numerous members featured in the sport.

Many physical traits will help to determine what an individual’s athletic ability will be, with the strength of their muscles that are used for movement (skeletal muscles) and the predominant types of fibres that are used to compose them, with slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibres available. Athleticism can also be related to the body’s ability to take on a maximum amount of oxygen, as this can help to increase overall performance.


Of course, with the ongoing studies that scientists continue to conduct to try and provide an answer, it is clear that athletic performance is a combination of both genetics and environmental factors.

Whilst a parent of another generation within the family may have been an elite athlete in the past, there is no guarantee that the next person from the same family tree will be immediately gifted with the same attributes.

Additionally, there have been a number of stories in the past of individuals who had poor backgrounds and did not have all the resources or the training, education or even money for equipment that have gone on to be amongst some of the greatest of all time in the sports that they do.

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The Rx Review is an independent fitness website, reporting on the Sport of Fitness, functional fitness news, The CrossFit Games, health and diet related information, and also provides reviews on sports performance products.