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Recently, while I was taking up my normal Saturday position on a youth soccer game sideline, I overheard a conversation between two parents as they watched the players warm-up. The first saying, “I just love watching James play soccer.  He’s just one of those natural talents.”

“I agree," the other replied, "Even though his parents never played growing up, he just seems to have inherited all the right genes to be a top player.” 

It’s a common belief among parents and some coaches that kids either have “it” or they don’t. 

Of course, some skills can be gained from practice, but the talent theory of player development and team selection seem to favor the opinion that athletic skill is “hard-wired," unable to progress much beyond the natural limit.

Now, several books are out to prove this theory incorrect, with titles such as “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, Its Grown," “Tal...

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