So you thought you had a busy schedule?

One of the most frequently asked questions by coaches and analysts in the world of professional sports concerns “the making of greatness.” Can it be made, or is it born?

Perhaps sporting genius is genetic, but it certainly can’t flourish without hard work.

At what age should a talented young sportsman start living his life around his training and playing schedule? How hard should they be pushed? The danger that they may develop a hatred for a sport if they are pushed too hard – does that apply to all youngsters?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that listening to Mark Boucher recount an ‘average’ day from his school life was exhausting. He says he was pushed all the time, but only because he asked to be!

“School days would often start 4am with Dad driving me to the squash courts at Hamilton Sports Club. We had to drive because we lived a little way out of town. I would probably have run there if I could have. I started with court sprints to warm up – short, sharp take-offs concentrating on acceleration and leg strength. Then I would hit balls and go through all my rally routines hoping someone would turn up for a game. I didn’t have too many games organised at that time of day.

“After a couple of hours of that and a shower, I’d walk to school which was close by. I endured the entire school day waiting to get back to my sports schedule. It really got in the way. As soon as it was finished I headed straight to the tennis courts for practice and a couple of games. From there I would move onto the Old Selbornian Club where we had squash training. After that, I returned to school for rugby or cricket practice depending on what time of the year it was.

“The day wasn’t always done, however. Team sports were followed by cross country or athletics, and then I went to the pool for an hour of training with the swimming team. By then it was dark or getting dark, and it was time to walk back to Hamilton’s to play my league squash match.”

Boucher’s biography: “Bouch – Through my eyes” will be published in mid-October.

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