The Olympics is the pinnacle of many athletes’ careers. But how does an athlete get there? David Hancock, assistant professor of health sciences at IU Kokomo, said we often think "practice, practice, practice," but the truth is, intense training schedules lead to burnout more than it leads to success.

“It’s a common misconception to think that intense practice from a young age is the best way to achieve elite sport success," said Hancock, who also is the head men's and women's golf coach at IU Kokomo. "The best athletes typically had plenty of opportunity for unorganized play, did not start intense practice until 13 years old or later, and had supportive -- not overbearing -- coaches and parents. This goes against conventional wisdom, but for most sports, it is supported by research."

Hancock also studies the referees and umpires who adjudicate competitions. “The Olympics is not only a competition for athletes, but also for the officials who work the games. They compete to be selected for the Olympics, and they compete to officiate in the finals. Every decision they make is scrutinized, making it an incredibly challenging environment in which to succeed,” he said.

Hancock can be reached at 765-455-9234 or [email protected].