/ Climbing ability and chance.

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Rachel Slater - on 11 Feb 2013
So I was reading SuperFreakonomics yesterday and it mentions that if one of your parents is good at a sport the children are 800% more likely to be good at that chosen sport compared to a person doing the same sport, starting at the same time etc etc. My parents both climb fairly well but I'd never thought about how this could have affected me. I consider myself probably above average but always thought that was due to hard work rather than being born in lucky circumstances. What do other people think about this theory?
EeeByGum - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to r fizzle:
> if one of your parents is good at a sport the children are 800% more likely to be good at that chosen sport compared to a person doing the same sport

I think perhaps this is a little vague. I have always been quite good at most sports, but my parents didn't do any sport. I did however, do a lot of sports as a young kid and was certainly encouraged by my parents. Maybe my parents were good at sport even though they never did any? Maybe I was goodish at sport as a youngster simply because I did it? Who knows?
Franco Cookson on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to r fizzle:

Name some very good british climbers who weren't coached by someone from an ealy age.

There must be a couple, but Dave Macleod is the only one I can think of. I don't think it necessarily has to be a parent, but if you don't start climbing till you're 15 and even then don't really know what you're doing, you're not going to be as good as someone who has been taught since they were 5.
Liam Brown - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to r fizzle:

I think it relates to the likelihood of you taking up the sport in a serious manner rather than defining your potential i.e. you are 9 times more likely to take up climbing in a 'serious' manner compared to someone who has not been around climbers all there life. About passing on attitudes rather than ability. (I think we could bash out the details of what makes a serious climber for a while so I'm going to ignore how vague that is).
redsonja - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to r fizzle: i have always been an energetic and quite sporty person. im the complete opposite to my parents and sister! i often wonder where my love affair with mountains came from- its not from my parents for sure
ti_pin_man - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to r fizzle: hmmm interesting ... Does it say if its genetic or the environmental factors that makes the % number so high ? Born or bred? Must be bred.

I firmly believe many fat people are bred fat, most not in their genes but they inherit an attitude from their parents towards food, consumption and preparation.

It's no shock that we inherit attitudes from our parents. Mine used to take me walking in Northumberland hills and mountains and now it's hardly a shock I mountain bike and climb.

I'm continuing the program, I take my daughter climbing and walking , hopefully this is my way of breeding another lover of the outdoors.

Does this improve your chance if being good, yes it probably does I think. If your parents are positive about it, then you will probably be positive about it.
Ramblin dave - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to r fizzle:
> I consider myself probably above average but always thought that was due to hard work rather than being born in lucky circumstances.

The two aren't mutually exclusive...
Ian Patterson on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson:
> (In reply to r fizzle)
>
> Name some very good british climbers who weren't coached by someone from an ealy age.
>

I would imagine that there's plenty - Ben Moon, Jerry Moffat and Steve Mclure come to mind.

Franco Cookson on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Ian Patterson: Aye, no one steve knew climbed....

Don't know about the other two. There are some about, but they're in the minority.
Rachel Slater - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to ti_pin_man:
> (In reply to r fizzle) hmmm interesting ... Does it say if its genetic or the environmental factors that makes the % number so high ? Born or bred? Must be bred.

It doesn't say which, its just based on empirical evidence of some sort. Climbing is pretty unique however so I'm not sure if the theory in this book would apply to climbing as much as other sports. I think the main example they use is baseball but they do imply its true for many other sports.
Liam Brown - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson:

Steve: "I was born in North East England, and with both parents keen climbers there was no escape. I was on the cliff before I could walk!"

Ben: "I first started climbing when I was 7 years old whilst on family holidays in the Lake District. We used to go walking in the mountains a lot with this other family and the father of the other family did a bit of climbing and took us one day and I was bitten by it immediately."

AlanLittle - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson:

I agree, in climbing coaching & encouragement by example from an early age are probably big factors.

There probably are also sports, e.g. running, where genetics makes a big difference at elite level. But climbing probably isn't one of them (yet?) and even for sports that are, if the parents are really exceptional then reversion to the mean is likely to come into play.
Skyfall - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to AlanLittle:

> There probably are also sports, e.g. running, where genetics makes a big difference at elite level. But climbing probably isn't one of them

Personally I would say genetics has a lot to do with it ie. body shape, weight, ape index etc.

I agree the early motivational/coaching side would be a v big part as well, if not more so, but I think the OP is about sports generally and I'd have said the obvious thing you inherit from parents is genetics.
Ian Patterson on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Liam Brown:
> (In reply to Franco Cookson)
>
> Steve: "I was born in North East England, and with both parents keen climbers there was no escape. I was on the cliff before I could walk!"
>
> Ben: "I first started climbing when I was 7 years old whilst on family holidays in the Lake District. We used to go walking in the mountains a lot with this other family and the father of the other family did a bit of climbing and took us one day and I was bitten by it immediately."

Difference between coaching and having climbing in the family - I'm not aware that Mclure or Moon were ever coached at a young age. Having contacts into climbing obviously makes it more likely that you'll become involved, particularly in the days before such easy access to walls.

Goucho on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Ian Patterson: Big Ron, John Redhead, Johnny Dawes, Pete Livesey, Tom Proctor, John Allen, Steve Bancroft, Pat Littlejohn, Al Rouse, Rab Carrington, Don Willans, Joe Brown, Chris Bonnington etc etc...I mean the list is endless!

Of course, if this is only aimed at current top climbers, then I haven't a clue.
Liam Brown - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Goucho:

Definitely. You've found 13 in the last 60 years right there.
Goucho on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Liam Brown:
> (In reply to Goucho)
>
> Definitely. You've found 13 in the last 60 years right there.

If I understood what point that comment was trying to make, I might respond!
Franco Cookson on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Goucho: I'll give you that one. A lot of big names there. Interesting that the situation is a bit different nowadays. Perhaps something to do with the increased importance in the sporty side of climbing- If you listed all the people who've climbed F9a for example, I bet you'd find very few of them who weren't taken out intensively by an adult at a young age.

I'm talking about averages here though, not some stead-fast rule.
Ramblin dave - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson:
> Perhaps something to do with the increased importance in the sporty side of climbing- If you listed all the people who've climbed F9a for example, I bet you'd find very few of them who weren't taken out intensively by an adult at a young age.

That seems believable.

I also suspect that historically - and at lower levels today - being "coached" isn't important, but having close family who are keen climbers will make you generally more likely to get into it and to stick at it until you're reasonably good.

It's worth remembering that "having parents who climb makes you more likely to be a good climber" isn't the same as "most good climbers have parents who climb" - eg I've read some estimate that about 0.2% of the UK population are in some sense climbers, so even if you're ten times more likely to be a good climber if your parents were climbers then a good climber picked at random is still about fifty times more likely to have non-climbing parents...
Skyfall - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson and Goucho:

But isn't the point (or a large part of it) that genetics do come into play? Back in the 60's/70's it was probably unlikely your parents climbed as it was such a minority sport. Therefore, we have no idea whether those climbers you named had parents who were genetically suited to climbing. However, looking now, if you discovered a young climber who had parents who were good climbers, genetically you would know you were v likely to be onto a winner (eg. the Whittakers, McClure etc).

All it provides is an aid to finding someone who is very likely to have the potential to be a good climber. Just as in the hypothetical children of Daley Thompson and Jessica Ellis would, in all probability, have the potential to make excellent multi-event athletes.
Ramblin dave - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:
For the maths geeks: suppose you have a population of N sets of parents, of whom 0.2% are climbers. Suppose the probability of being a good climber if your parents don't climb is p and the probability of being a good climber if your parents do climb is 10*p, ie its ten times as likely.

Then you'll have 0.998 * N * p good climbers wih non-climbing parents and 0.002 * 10 * N * p good climbers with climbing parents. Divide them and you get 0.888 / 0.02 ie approx 50 times more good climbers with non-climbing parents.

Riveting, eh?
Franco Cookson on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Skyfall:

Maybe. There are a fair few factors at play though. Particularly with trad climbing, the number of traits you need to be good at it are unlikely all to be directly inherited from one's parents. Not to mention the fact that most people could climb pretty hard if they could be arsed.
Franco Cookson on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave: you're assuming that the same proportion of people with non-climbing parents take it up as people without though..
Ramblin dave - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson: When I say "ten times as likely to be a good climber" I mean "ten times as likely to take it up and end up being a good climber".

In any case, the basic point is that "X means Y is likely" and "Y means X is likely" aren't the same thing. So a list of good climbers whose parents didn't climb doesn't mean much if they grew up at a time when almost nobody's parents climbed.
Roberttaylor - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to r fizzle: If Sharma and his girlfriend have a babby it will be mega strong.

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