New test uses genetics to test your sporting skills

Courtny Gerrish, Stephanie Graham

New test uses genetics to test your sporting skills

CREATED Mar. 13, 2012 - UPDATED: Mar. 13, 2012

OCONOMOWOC - What if there was a test that could predict whether your kid is the next Aaron Rodgers? Or Serena Williams? Thanks to modern science, we may be getting closer to that!

11-year-old Clayton Schoff and his 9-year-old sister Hailey love to skate on the ice rink in their Oconomowoc backyard. For Clayton, skating is serious business.

"My dream would probably be to go to the NHL and win a Stanley Cup," Clayton says.

Meanwhile, Hailey is still discovering her favorite sport. "I do soccer, swimming, and gymnastics," Hailey lists.

At first glance, Clayton appears to have more athletic talent, at least on the ice, but what do their genes say?

Mike Weinstein works for Atlas Sports Genetics out of Colorado. The business offers a new genetic test. He explains, "Genetics testing offers a different tool to parents."

The new test is designed to show young athletes whether their genetic advantage leans toward power or endurance sports.

"It can decipher, or kind of indicate which directions a person may be better excelling at," Weinstein says.

The test looks at variants of the ACTN-3 gene, which has an impact on the type of muscle produced in the body.

We put the Schoff kids to the test! Two quick cheek swabs, and the tests get FedExed to the lab. Dad Bill is a longtime hockey player himself, so he's excited to see if he passed his athleticism to his kids.

"How it compares each child, cuz they're definitely different. So see if the endurance is for Clay or Hailey, or how it compares to how he is on the ice, and how she plays soccer and does swimming and gymnastics--to see if it's relative," Bill says.

But how much stock should dad take in the results? We asked Medical College of Wisconsin Professor and Geneticist Dr. Howard Jacob. He says, "I think it's an interesting concept, that you could use a one gene test to be able to determine what your kids' abilities are."

Dr. Jacob sees the merit of the ACTN-3 gene test, but overall, says it's just one small piece of the body's puzzle.

"If you're gonna be a world class athlete, you're gonna have to have the right genes, and it's gonna be more than one gene, and you're gonna have to have the right training environment," Dr. Jacob reasons.

So how did Hailey and Clayton fare?

Hailey's test shows her genetic advantage is 'Mixed Pattern Sports'--including sprint, power, strength and endurance characteristics.

As for our future NHL star Clayton--the test shows he's more prone to power sports rather than endurance.

"I think that this is what I expected of myself," Clayton says.

Bill adds, "This plays to his strengths right now in hockey... Shows he needs to work on endurance, it's something to focus on."

When it's all said and done, whether Bill's kids are holding a hockey stick or a marker, he'll always support their unique interests.

"Whatever they want, to be honest with you. Doesn't make a difference to me. I'll run 'em around wherever they need to go," Bill exclaims.

Click here to check out the Atlas Sports gene test

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