Bounce: How Champions are Made – Matthew Syed

Have just read Matthew Syed’s excellent book Bounce: How Champions are Made in two days, and strongly recommend it. Syed, ex-England table tennis no.1, is up there with Atherton (who positively reviews the book) as top athletes whose writing ability matches their sporting talent.

The essential thesis of the book is that great human success (in sport, the arts, or wherever) is down to hard work and focused practice rather than “talent”. He deploys a wealth of scientific research to back this argument up, and the conclusion should be welcomed – we are not imprisoned by our genetic heritage, and the simplistic idea that “blacks are better at sprinting” is demolished en route. It means for example that I myself am a mere 10,000 hours of good practice from the Wimbledon title.

Here’s a short and a longer video where Syed himself talks about the book.

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  • Dan B  On August 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Sounds interestingly counter intuitive. I’ve always believed there were things I was naturally good at, and others that no amount of practice would ever make me excel at. Of course, I’m unlikely to put in the practice to find out if (for example) I could be a great musician…

  • JP  On May 3, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Syed expouding on the theme of “it’s practice, not talent” re: yesterday’s World Snooker final:

    World snooker runner-up Judd Trump still a winner

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