There was an article at the NY Times on Carol Dweck's research into "growth mindsets" and how leaders and great creative achievers tend to exhibit them. Here's the key quote:
“People who believe in the power of talent tend not to fulfill their potential because they’re so concerned with looking smart and not making mistakes. But people who believe that talent can be developed are the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them.”
I think this most certainly holds for athletes as well. In some people, talent is visible early in their development. In others, it requires a little more peeling back the layers before their talents really show. The extent of any individual's true physical talents won't be visible until they've put in years of hard work, anyway. At which point, one has to ask the question: was it the talent or the work that led to the success?
I've written more about Carol Dweck and growth mindsets here and here. I've also read her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and highly recommend it to any parents, coaches or athletes interested in getting a new perspective on the minds of high achievers.