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December 12, 1966

What Traits Determine The Superior Athlete?

JAMA. 1966;198(11):53. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110240025016

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While it may be possible to predict if a 9-year-old boy will be successful in sports at 12 years of age, it cannot be assumed that the outstanding 12-year-old athlete will go on to excel in sports at 15.

H. Harrison Clarke, EdD, told the 8th National Conference on the Medical Aspects of Sports that some fundamental characteristics of 12-year-old elementary school athletes are clearly evident at younger ages, at least as early as 9 years. This is well before their interscholastic competition begins.

In a study of boys from the age of 9 to 12 years, the traits with the greatest longitudinal significance in differentiating between the future outstanding athletes and future nonparticipants were the 60-yard dash, standing broad jump, total-body reaction time, and Physical Fitness Index.

In addition, Dr. Clarke reported that the longitudinal significance of the physical characteristics of young athletes may be extended to specific sports,