Expert is a term that has lost respect over time. When you think of an expert, you think of a highly skilled and extremely knowledgeable person. They have the ability to take something complicated and make it easy. They have practiced their craft so much that it looks almost automatic and effortless. They can adjust and react on the fly because of a fundamental base of principles and skills. This is most definitely applied to athletics but can go way beyond that.
People love to say these people have an incredible genetic gift, they get lucky, they were in the right place at the right time, they knew the right people, etc etc. Well as Gary Player once said, "The harder you work, the luckier you get." Ooooooh how right he is.
True experts in their field typically have followed the 10 year/10,000 hour rule. They have worked on their craft for endless years before anyone knew who they were. They meticulously prepared for when an opportunity arose that would be ready. All of that deliberate practice and preparation allows them to react on the fly in a split second decision.
Now many ask about Tiger Woods, Lebron James, Lionell Messi, and other athletes who are at the top of their sport at an early age. Well Tiger's dad taught him gold starting around age 3, and he wasn't an elite golfer under age 19-20. That is around 17 years. Lebron started playing basketball as a young kid, and he wasn't in the NBA until age 18.
Now some will say these guys just are genetically gifted and it was pre-determined. Yes, you can't teach 6'8", but Lebron also has a TREMENDOUS work ethic. Tiger also had a ridiculous appetite to improve his game. These guys didn't fall on top of the mountain, they climbed there.
I feel their are a couple reasons that athletic all stars have developed as they have.
1. They've had damn near perfect development on athletic skills starting at a young age. There are peak periods when certain skills can develop faster than others. This has to do with playing MULTIPLE sports throughout their life, and understanding what to emphasize.
2. Deliberate Practice: Here is my key point and what separates good from great. If you've read Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, he talks a lot about this topic. The best at what they do will deliberately looked at what they actually need to practice on and put their complete mental and physical focus into that. It is constantly looking at what needs to be addressed and improved on. There is no "going through the motions." This however is not easy and can only be sustained for 4-5 hours a day.
Now lets break down 10 years/ 10,000 hours. 1 year--> 1,000 hours/52 hours = 19.5 hours per week. 4-5 hours 5-6 days per week of intense, deliberate practice. That is how you can become an expert in your field. So if you truly want to be respected as an expert, and be seen at great in what you do, it is a GRIND! Put the proper work in a results will come. I know i have not yet put in the time to be considered an expert, and will not claim I am. But I know I'm on the right path.
I highly suggest reading Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, it will change the way you think about the "genetically gifted."