The Best: How Elite Athletes Are Made (Hardcover)

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Never have the best sportspeople seemed so far removed from the rest of us, their prowess so unfathomable. So how are these extraordinary athletes made?

THE BEST reveals how the most incredible sportspeople in the world get to the top and stay there. It is a unique look at the path to sporting greatness; a story of origins, practice, genetics and psychology.

Packed with gripping personal stories and interviews with top athletes including Trevor Bauer, Elena Delle Donne, Pete Sampras, Joey Votto, Steph Curry, Kurt Warner and Premier League superstars Marcus Rashford and Jamie Carragher, it explains how the best athletes develop the extraordinary skills that allow them to perform remarkable feats under extreme pressure.

THE BEST uncovers startling truths of athletic greatness-including why younger siblings have more chance of becoming elite, which towns produce the most superstars, the role of informal play and the best time to be born in the school year. It goes inside the minds of champions to understand what makes them perform during high-octane competition, how to hit a baseball or tennis ball in under 0.5 seconds, the secrets of how the best train and what makes a great leader.

The book appeals to all lovers of sport, anyone with an interest in psychology and excellence, the parents of budding athletes, and fans of books like Freakonomics, Outliers and Range. It is a deconstruction of what it takes to be the best-and how we can all improve in sport and beyond.

About the Author

Mark Williams is an academic and one of the world’s most highly published sports scientists. He works with leading sports teams and organizations around the world, including the NFL, NBA and Premier League. 
Tim Wigmore is a sports writer for The Daily Telegraph and contributes to publications including The New York Times, ESPN and FiveThirtyEight. 


Praise For…

"Insightful, thoughtful, and altogether wonderful: The authors have given us a guided tour of athletic greatness, brimming with revelatory science and deep understanding."—Daniel Coyle, New York Times bestselling author of The Talent Code

"This book will redefine your approach to athlete development."—David Whiteside, Director of Performance Science, New York Yankees

"A fascinating and informative read for anyone interested in high-performance sport."—Kevin Thelwell, Director of Sport, New York Red Bulls

"The Best takes you on an epic journey of discovery and learning while also highlighting some of the nuances and pitfalls around developing elite athletes."

James Bunce, High Performance Director, US Soccer Federation

"For any coach that wants to learn and then coach better, this book is a must read. Developing elite athletes is an intricate process and this book will help you achieve the right balance of coaching."—Eddie Jones, Head Coach, England Rugby

"Answers the big questions about how stars are made, in lucid, jargon-free prose. Takes our understanding of elite sport to a new level and deepens the enjoyment of watching. A major addition to sporting literature."—Paul Hayward, Chief Sports Writer, Daily Telegraph

"The Best takes a classic question posed by sport - what made them so good? - and interrogates it with genuine intellectual sparkle."—Ed Smith, England cricket selector, author of What Sport Tells Us About Life

"A great read for anyone interested in excellence using a compelling mix of narrative interviews with the best athletes interwoven with cutting edge science."—Sian Beilock, author of Choke

"This crisply written and enthralling book is a study of high achievement in sports. But it is much more than that because of the richness of the human interest stories it tells and of how it uses data to explain its conclusions. It achieves that rare feat: making you look at the world in a new way."—Jason Cowley, Editor, New Statesman

"The Best is an enthralling read that combines the latest research along with interesting anecdotes that bring to life how the world's best athletes are made. Whether a casual reader or professional working in athlete development The Best is a great read"—Troy Taylor, High Performance Director, US Ski and Snowboard

"The authors delve deep into the minds of great athletes, making tangible the intangible, bringing reason to the unexplained, and order to the chaos surrounding the creation of elite sportsmen and women."—Stuart Miller, Senior Executive Director, International Tennis Federation

"Taking the complexity of cutting edge research and mixing it with the insights from expert performers in elite sport, The Best stands out in offering a glimpse of the characteristics of greatness and highlighting the many factors that lead individuals to sporting triumph."—David Colclough, Head of Coaching/Sports Science at The Professional Golfers? Association (The PGA)

"A comprehensive book, which thoroughly covers, using science and interviews with successful athletes, the key factors that impact on a prosperous career in sport. For those involved in this domain, this is a very important read that helps improve understanding of the nuances that exist along the pathway to sporting excellence."
Juninho Paulista, Brazilian National Football Team

"The authors have created a piece of work that encapsulates everything we should know about identifying and developing champions. This book is a must for any coach, Sporting Director, teacher or mentor; in fact, anyone involved in finding talent and creating opportunity for potential to become reality. In this one book, the authors cover the full spectrum of requirements for elite athletes to become the best they can be and provide the tools for others to help them."
Les Reed, Technical Director, The Football Association

"The Best provides a perfect balance between evidence-based and anecdotal writing. It is easy to read but insightful and thought-provoking. It provides a good framework to understand the multifactorial and random aspects involved on human talent. The Best is a good resource for anyone interested in skill learning, talent identification and expert performance."
Xavi Schelling, Director of Sports Science and Performance, San Antonio Spurs

Fascinating and insightful... The Best isn’t a one size fits all, it’s a highly thought out, well-researched and accessible book that gives recommendations based on context and sport.—Joanne O’Riordan, The Irish Times
Product Details
ISBN: 9781529304350
ISBN-10: 1529304350
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey
Publication Date: December 1st, 2020
Pages: 256
Language: English