The Sports Gene

Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance


The New York Times bestseller—with a new afterword about early specialization in youth sports—from the author of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.
The debate is as old as physical competition. Are stars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams genetic freaks put on Earth to dominate their respective sports? Or are they simply normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training?
In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success and the so-called 10,000-hour rule, David Epstein tackles the great nature vs. nurture debate and traces how far science has come in solving it. Through on-the-ground reporting from below the equator and above the Arctic Circle, revealing conversations with leading scientists and Olympic champions, and interviews with athletes who have rare genetic mutations or physical traits, Epstein forces us to rethink the very nature of athleticism.


The narrative follows Mr. Epstein’s search for the roots of elite sports performance as he encounters characters and stories so engrossing that readers may not realize they’re receiving an advanced course in genetics, physiology, and sports medicine.

The New York Times

An important book.

The Wall Street Journal

Epstein’s rigor in seeking answers and insights is as impressive as the air miles he must have accumulated . . . his book is dazzling and illuminating.

The Guardian

A rollicking ride through the latest science.


The Sports Gene provides a wonderful background to a future in which emerging technologies will bring the nature-versus-nurture debate into even sharper focus


I can’t remember a book that has fascinated, educated—and provoked—me as much as The Sports Gene. Epstein has changed forever the way we measure elite athletes and their achievements.

Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of Blink and Outliers


New events coming soon!

Invite David as a speaker.


New events coming soon!

Invite David as a speaker.