Perfect practice makes perfect! Love it and it will happen!
excellent job destroying the myths of talent. Practice is a talent!
Great video. I coach my son’s soccer team (5 and 6 year olds) and it is interesting to note that the standout players are considered to be “naturals” by the parents. The reality is that the standout players kick the ball around for hours everyday in their backyards while the ordinary players spend zero time between games kicking the ball around. The result is that the standout players have another 7-14 hours of practice under their belts by the time they get to the next weekly game and everyone else has zero.
I love showing this interview to prospective students at our Instinctive Tennis Academy here in Charleston, SC. This is at the basis of how we teach and why we’ve had such success helping people improve on the tennis court. Thanks for sharing the science behind our methods.
The Talent Code is truly the keystone for developing athletic skills for young competitive athletes. I have developed many “talented” young competitive tennis players that have become some of the best players in the country. This theory is the basis for what we have done over the past fifteen years. The only subject not discussed is the emotional stages kids go through as they grow and develop.
Many young competitive tennis players lose their motivation when they enter middle school due to the change from the “Pleasing Stage” to the “Acceptance Stage” of child development. Kids work to please both parents and coaches up to about age 10-13. At some point about that time, their main focus is being accepted by their peers and they lose their ability to maintain focused-practice. They become much more social.
We show this video to each of our parents to help them understand the process.
How does one find out what their children are interested in or good at so that they may develop the sustained energy to deeply practice?
Great question — and perhaps it’s THE question. Most psychologists would recommend paying deep attention to what the child stares at. As the old saying goes, “to stare is to think.” They would also recommend not forcing the issue — as in “you’re going to start piano lessons tomorrow” — but rather setting up experiences and encounters, laying back, and seeing which ones light up the kid. I’ve met an unusual number of musicians whose parents took the tack of forbidding instruments until a certain age (a la Keith Richards’ grandfather) — while putting them in full view. This made music fascinating/magical to the child, and thus lit their fire.
What about for people who are middle-aged? Is this only for kids?
Nope. Kids are built to learn faster (with fewer reps), but the basic mechanism doesn’t change as we age. You can add myelin throughout life.
[...] my favorite quotations that I apply to teaching, among other things. Then when I saw this video on Nightline, that I showed to my students, I realized, the learning occurs during the struggle. I teach my [...]
So did Ashlee Simpson, Ryan Cabrera and Jessica Simpson stop practicing? Because they haven’t had a hit in years.
I love how science tries to explain something that’s intangible. Yes, practice is important, but the perosn has to love doing it, or they’ll either stop practicing or become miserable. A case in point: Serena Williams. She practiced to get her skills, but she admitted she never loved it and seems unhappy with ther success. And while you’re at it, look up the story of Todd Marinovich. He wanted to be an artist, but everyone around him wanted him to be a quarterback. So he worked hard at being a QB and was so unhappy, he started using drugs.
So how do you get someone to love what they do?
Just expose growing child to many activities and observe his favorite interest and skill/talent on that subject. Then give him the necessary materials along his line,coach him even give him a good Tutor…BINGO !!!
As they say… as things change, they stay the same. I grew up in the 50s & started piano lessons @ age five. If there’s one thing I learned it was to take small steps & get it right before moving on. Wonder just how many times I practiced the same two & three measures over & over before moving on to the next trouble spot. Not until just now did I ever wonder how my mother lived through it all for 13 years.
As I get older I realize more and more what would have actually been useful to learn at school. At the top of that list would be discovering and developing what really motivates you and how to most effectively go about being good at it.
I am an intermediate classical guitarist and see such a gulf between my playing and the playing of someone who is really good. I don’t practice deeply and that’s the difference. This is a really interesting book and I’m hoping that the concept really moves me on in my playing and with other aspects of my life.
Haven’t read the book, but I know that the only way to learn a new language is practice. If I say a new word over and over again, I imprint it in my brain. My bilingual language skills get lazy when I stop using them. I constantly have to read in my second language to keep my skill level up.
I read the book and it was amazing in that it confirmed why I got so good so fast at Taijiquan while everyone else said I was a natural. I also like the differentiation it gives between sports that are mostly self-taught with minimal coaching and other things like music that is much more teacher involved. After reading the book I can see how it applies to every part of life and why most people won’t apply it. You have to think and work hard.
I have watched my daughter swim for just under 6 years now. Reading The Talent Code has given me an explanation for what I have seen during that time. Swimming is not the most exciting sport from a spector or participant view. It is a lot of time doing lap after lap. My daughter recently came to the conclusion that many people know how to not drown, but few know how to swim.
My daughter started how most start in the sport. She was taking lessons and the instructor said would you like to join the team. She tried out and barely made it across the pool, but they let her on the team. The team was a rec team and the cost was like playing soccer or softball. She swam on that team for 3 years. We saw some improvement, but the coaching was not the greatest. Too many swimmers per coach. Not enough practice time due to pool time limits.
So we moved to a new team and so many things in the book came to light. Better coaching meant better results. Stronger swimmers on the team allowed my daughter to see what she could be by looking at the older really good swimmers. More practice time due to more pool time.
A light bulb has gone off for my daughter and the improvement in the last 12 months has been crazy. As her parent I never tell her she must be on the team or she must go to practice. We only have one rule you start a season you finish it. The effort she puts in is totally up to her. What I do though is point out small things to her. See swimming is great because everyone’s times are recorded and easily visible. If you want to know who is better just check the times. I point out to my daughter that she should pay attention to who is practices and from there you can see who is getting better. It has become apparent to my daughter that the better swimmers go to more practices and that they work harder in those practices. I just talk to my daughter about the little things in the sport and how important they are. Those little things are finally sinking in. She is having some success and her motivation level is at an all time high.
Motivation is the key aspect to swimming. I pay attention to the other kids on the team. I listen to see who is complaining about going to practice. The kids that do well over time are the ones that still have the fire. It is as simple as that. Put a kid in a good environment with good coaching and as long as they are motivated the results will come. If the kid loses the motivation it is over. The parent can’t push the kid.
I am a clinical psychologist in private practice. I use both of Daniel’s books plus “Wooden” by John Wooden to change their focus to process from the distractions like results, rewards, and approval. I greatly appreciated Daniel’s presentation at the Learning and the Brain Conference at Boston, Nov. 2010, I believe, where we talked briefly of the immense contribution of John Wooden to the process theme. I find these contributions to be immense and valuable for people in our culture that is so immersed in achievement that is more cultish than cultural. I have just finished a manuscript I titled “SKILLS ‘N MORE. Powering up You and Your Children” which dovetails quite well with both Talent Code books. These basic skills make it possible for the less able to do what the more able can do with what Daniel is proposing. This kind of cultural re-making is exciting. I would like to pick Daniel’s brain on some of these relationships to which I am alluding.
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Copyright © 2009 Daniel Coyle. The interactive myelin graphic appears courtesy of The New York Times, with special thanks to designer Shan Carter.
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