Success in any field, if you take the same approach as Malcolm Gladwell did in Outliers, comes down to practising 20 hours a week for 10 years.
Subtitled "The Story of Success", the journalist turned author looks at success across many fields and his "10,000 hour rule" - the magic number for practice - is used by Gladwell to explain the success of the Beatles and Bill Gates.
It's an idea that has taken root in popular culture and quickly become accepted as a truism. Like the old joke that goes, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practise". Or the aphorism long attributed to champion golfer Gary Player that "the harder I practise, the luckier I get."
One of the most famous examples of this is another golfer. Tiger Woods was a child prodigy when it came to the golf course and was introduced to the game while still a toddler. He appeared on TV to putt against Bob Hope before he turned three and his meteoric rise continued thereon to the point where there is a strong argument that Woods is the finest player to have picked up a club.
What's certain is that Woods is the poster boy for those who believe that sporting success starts early. His father Earl Woods, a former member of the US Navy, has spoken at length about his son's hours spent on the course - and the money that a preteen Tiger had taken off those foolish enough to doubt his prowess.
Whether you see this as pushy parenting, of which there are myriad examples behind sporting success, or genius is irrelevant. The shared view is that the path to greatness begins as early as possible.
This is also similar in thought to the way that China, among other countries, thinks when it comes to Olympic success.
State-run sports schools and gyms remain a part of the landscape on the mainland, where youngsters are still picked out soon after they have learned to walk to be groomed for sporting success - and the thousands of hours of training that comes before getting anywhere near.
It's a model that has worked for China. They topped the medal table at Beijing 2008 and have been in the top three in each of the last five Summer Games. You would be a fool to think that they won't be there or thereabouts in Tokyo next summer.
But is success proof that the system is right? Could China be even stronger sportingly if it changed tack?
The counter to the coaching concept of early specialisation - where children are trained in one sport only from an early age - is the opposite: generalisation.
Advocates argue that elite athletes are more likely to have played lots of sports during their formative years and only then devoted themselves to one in their teens as their career begins to develop.
If this was to have a poster boy then it would be Roger Federer, a man whose claim to the crown as best ever is as strong for tennis as Woods' is for golf. The Swiss superstar was not a serious tennis player until his teens and now look at him. Federer has won a total of 20 grand slams, the most of any male tennis player, and is still going aged 38.
This is an argument persuasively made by author David Epstein in his books Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World and The Sport Gene.
It's an argument that is also made strongly by the sporting world.
Take Belgian teen cycling sensation Remco Evenepoel. The 19-year-old rider has won the ClAsica San Sebastian and become European time trial champion in his debut season cycling.
That's remarkable enough but only more so when he was playing football for Anderlecht and representing Belgium at under-15 level just a few years ago. His move to cycling has been recent and his rise rapid.
England international footballer Phil Neville could well have been England international cricketer had he chosen differently.
The former Manchester United man was an outstanding cricketer at youth level and considered an even better prospect than his Lancashire teammate Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff, the man who would go on to star for England in their historic Ashes win in 2005.
Diego Forlan, the 2010 World Cup golden ball winner, has just called time on his football career but Neville's former Manchester United teammate could have been calling time on his tennis career.
He was a very promising junior in his native Uruguay.
Plenty of other sports stars have even switched sports mid-career. The boxing world has seen Anthony Mundine, Sonny Bill Williams and Leon McKenzie are among those to drop their various codes of football to put up their gloves. Argentina international Gabriel Batistuta became a polo champion once he'd hung up his boots, winning the 2009 Copa Stella Artois.
Should China create a culture where its children dabble in as many sports as possible before choosing to specialise, rather than hothousing them from childhood, we could expect even more Chinese champions across the sporting world.
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