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5 Athletes Who Bloomed Late In Their Career

5 Athletes Who Bloomed Late In Their Career

Some athletes were born for greatness. When Tiger Woods was two years old, he was already out-putting Bob Hope on the golf course. When he stepped onto the course as an adult, it was clear that he would make sporting history.

But not everyone is Tiger Woods. Certainly, they were born to play a sport but they took a different trajectory to greatness. For some of the best athletes in history, reaching stardom took thousands of hours of work over years of their life to make it to the big time.

Here are just five athletes who reached greatness late in their career.

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Ken Norton

In 1973, Ken Norton broke Muhammad Ali’s jaw in an epic fight. But Ken Norton had not spent his entire life preparing for that fight. By all accounts, Norton should have been a football player. He received a football scholarship to Truman State after high school but left after two years because of injuries.

Norton began boxing in 1963 when he enlisted in the Marines. He committed to boxing and forged a 24-2 record for himself, capturing three All-Marine Heavyweight titles.

After the leaving the marines, he became a professional boxer. He had a 14-year-long career as a pro boxer and became the heavyweight champion after his 30th birthday.

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R.A. Dickey

Dickey was a first-round pick for the Texas Rangers, but despite his hard work, he was unable to hold on to his starting position on the team. For a decade, he tried to stay afloat as he drifted into Major League Baseball obscurity.

In 2005, Dickey perfected the knuckleball. All of a sudden, he went from a career as a relatively unknown baseball player to becoming a starting pitcher for the Mets at the age of 35. In 2012, he was voted in as an All Star and he was the only pitcher with a knuckleball to receive the NL Cy Young Award.

Anthony Davis

Davis is one of the hottest players in the NBA right now and likely has a long future as a professional basketball player in front of him. But Anthony was not always the top pick for the court, in fact, he struggled to get on the court at all at the high school level.

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Davis stood at 6 feet 2 inches tall until the summer before his junior year of high school. Over those three months, Davis grew a remarkable eight inches and reached 6’10”. By the time he left school, he would be scouted by colleges and the NBA. He committed to play ball for Kentucky. He even joined the American basketball squad for the 2012 Olympic games without having gone pro.

Kurt Warner

Once upon a time, during the 1994 NFL Draft, every professional football team chose to pass on Kurt Warner. So, Warner gave up on his dream briefly and began working at a supermarket. Later, he began playing arena football and he made a serious impression on those around him. Warner signed to the St. Louis Rams in 1998 and he worked his way up from third string over several seasons.

Then, he had a stroke of luck. The Ram’s starting quarterback was injured in the preseason and Warner was called up from the bench to finally become a starting NFL quarterback. The situation has parallels with the fortunes of Brazilian veteran soccer star Denilson, who also saw a late career resurgence. During that season, Warner threw 41 touchdowns, racked up 4,353 yards, and lead the Rams to victory at Super Bowl XXXIV. He was the Super Bowl MVP that year and the NFL MVP.

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All this success came from a man who sat on the bench for the better part of a decade.

Rocky Marciano

Rocky is a storied fighter, probably one of the most famous athletes to come from the sport of boxing. However, Rocky didn’t start training for his first professional fight right out of the gate. In fact, his first pro match didn’t happen until he turned 25.

Rocky was an amateur fighter while he was in the service. When he did go pro, he knocked out his opponents the first 16 times he stepped in the ring. When he retired, he left with 49 wins (43 knockouts) and zero losses. He had the kind of record that inspired major Hollywood films.

A select few athletes walk on the pitch for the first time and awe the crowd. But don’t discount those who don’t shine right away. Some of the greatest sports heroes in modern history were late bloomers.

Featured photo credit: slgckgc via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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