BOOK REVIEW: the Sports Gene by David Epstein

"the Sports Gene - talent, practice and the truth about success" by David Epstein

This is an incredibly interesting book that looks at a long time common question of “Nature v Nurture”.  “The Sports Gene – talent, practice and the truth about success” by David Epstein offers a detailed analysis into this debate. It provokes inquisitive thinking about what makes an athlete a champion.

BOOK REVIEW: The Sports Gene by David Epstein

Book Synopsis

The author, David Epstein, is an award-winning writer, acclaimed sports journalist, investigative reporter and writer about Olympic sports, sports science and medicine. “The Sports Gene”, his first book, won numerous awards.

In this book, Epstein methodically looks at the reasons behind the success of the best athletes in the world. He uncovers compelling contributors and influencers. In doing so, he also addresses common perceptions of success. This includes the 10,000-hour theory and questions the validity of its claim to reach elite sporting status.

He investigates the benefits of physical hardware, innate traits, genes and heritage, and the environment.

He doesn’t shy away from controversial issues such as race and gender influences on athletic performance.

This book details his analysis of how and why certain athletes are more successful than others.

Review of “The Sports Gene – talent, practice and the truth about success” by David Epstein

“The Sports Gene” is a unique insight into the many facets that make up a champion athlete. As a researcher and lover of sport, I was totally engrossed in the book from the outset!

I very much appreciated Epstein’s systematic analysis, which he then backed with evidence and case studies. You may not know anything about some of the concepts discussed in the book regarding sports medicine, physiology, and genetics. But he presents his arguments clearly and in a manner easy for a layman to understand. He is logical in his arguments and thought process. This makes the flow of the book easy to follow.

By intertwining his personal journey during his investigation, Epstein also adds a personal element in the telling of his experience. It wasn’t just a list of facts or scientific research paper.

Specific areas I found of particular interest were the studies into the patterns of success in Jamaican sprinters and Kenyan long distance runners. I was also surprised at the parallels drawn between the development of elite athletes and chess masters. In addition, the investigation into the selection and breeding of sled dogs to reveal how work ethic is genetically influenced was fascinating.

Intriguing in its development of arguments, I loved this exploration into the roots of elite athlete performance!


I would highly recommend “The Sports Gene” to anyone interested in sport, sports performance and sports science. Coaches would also benefit greatly from reading this book. It provides a clear understanding of what factors contribute to making an athlete excel and an increased awareness of the importance and significance of individuality to training. This is an engaging and impressive investigative piece!

You can purchase a copy of “The Sports Gene” by David Epstein from The Book Depository. The Book Depository offers FREE delivery worldwide.

Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?


If yoARE ATHLETES GETTING FASTER BETTER STRONGERu are interested in sport and or the science behind the development of athletes and sporting achievements over time, you may be interested in our article “Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?”

Here you can watch David Epstein’s, author of “The Sports Gene”, inciteful presentation about the factors that have played a part in the record-breaking milestones of athletes over the past century…or so it seems?


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