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"The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Discuss "The Talent Code" (and subsequent books, like "The Little Book of Talent") by Daniel Coyle here.

post #2 of 9

This is such an important book for anyone looking to acquire new skills. Obviously, we all love golf and would apply any lessons learned in this book toward golf. It is beneficial to anyone, however, looking to get better at any sport, musical instrument, learn a new language, etc. 

If you have not read it, I would strongly encourage you to do so, come back and discuss it.

 

My favorite part of "The Talent Code" discusses a teenage girl who is learning a new song on the flute or oboe. She breaks the song into chunks. She plays two or three notes very slowly, until she has that part down. She gradually increases the speed at which she plays that section. She does not move pass that part of the song until she can play it at normal speed. Only then does she move on to the next three notes. It is a painstaking process, but this is how we learn.

 

This book leads very well into the discussion in another thread on this site, the "Hitting into a Net" thread. Iacas raises a very interesting point in that thread: Golfers would get better, faster if they worked on their mechanics by hitting balls into a net and did not focus on the immediate results (i.e. the ball flight/result of that particular shot). I tend to agree with Iacas. You have to be very disciplined and committed to hit bad and embarrassing shot after bad and embarrassing shot at the range. If one were to hit into a net, the result would never be known and the golfer could focus on the mechanic (i.e. breaking it down into chunks like the girl). I'm not sure the author of this book, however, would agree. While he stresses the importance of breaking complicated tasks down into manageable pieces to perfect them, he also discusses the importance of practice simulating the event that you are practicing for.

 

I look forward to others thoughts on this subject.

post #3 of 9

I have heard some really good review recently. I am going to put it on my reading list.

post #4 of 9

So there is a part in this book where the author describes a game called Futsal. This game is played by Brazilian youths long before they play actual soccer.  Basically it is a game similar to soccer, but it is played inside, on a much smaller court and uses a much heavier ball. The author provides empirical evidence to suggest that this game is the reason for Brazil's dominance in the world of soccer. He argues that by shrinking the playing field (while keeping the fundamentals of the game intact), the participants are forced to develop superior ball control skills and they get to handle the ball 5 to 6 times more often than they would in an actual soccer match. Here is a short article that goes into it a little more:

 

http://www.futsalonline.com/coyleinterview052010.html

 

I guess my question is: Is there a way that we could apply these benefits to golf training? Is there a way to shrink the game down, so that one could fire the necessary circuits more often and get into "deep practice" mode more effectively?

 

I have been racking my brain trying to think of something, but I can't. I'm not sure that it is possible or would even translate to golf. I figured, however, I would see if anyone out there has some good suggestions. Thanks.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

To be honest I don't think the futsal example is the best.

 

I think the best example that relates to golf is the violinist.

 

First, she played the notes in the correct order (she'd stop and re-start each time she made an error - and this continued throughout the process).

Then she played them in the correct order and closer to the appropriate length at a slower rate (80 bpm).

Then she played them in the correct order very close to the appropriate length at a slower rate.

Then she played them in the correct order at exactly the right length at a slower rate.

Then she played them in the correct order at exactly the right length at a closer to appropriate rate (110 bpm instead of 80 or something).

Then she played them in the correct order at exactly the right length at the appropriate rate (140 bpm instead of 110).

Then she played them in the correct order, at exactly the right length and rate, with added "artistry."

 

The over-riding principle of the book is "practice at the edge of your ability." If you can make the correct motion 75% of the time at half speed, practice there, then when you can do it 100% of the time or close to it, move up to 60% speed.

 

This applies not only to the full swing but to small pieces of the swing as well, like the violinist working on a piece of the song she found more troubling.

post #6 of 9

I was not trying to suggest or imply that the Futsal story was the best example in the book. I completely agree that the portion about the violin students is the best example about how we learn or improve a golf swing. I posted a similar story in my first post about the girl playing the clarinet (I said flute or oboe in my original post. After fact-checking myself, it was the clarinet haha). I was brainstorming or spitballing. Could there be something relatable in this Futsal game? I was unable to think of anything that would relate to golf. But just because I can't think of anything, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. So, I posed the question to a larger audience. It seems that you are saying, "There's nothing there." The more I think about it, the more I agree with you. So, let's move on...

 

Another part that I find really fascinating is the story of the Russian tennis camp, Spartak. Just to give a quick background in case someone has not read the book but is interested in the topic, Spartak is a very underwhelming tennis facility in Russia. It is poorly maintained and consists of one indoor court. And it has produced more professional tennis players than the entire United States. Here is a clip from Daniel Coyle's blog:

 

 

Spartak can be summed up in one word: tekhnika (technique). Every moment, every resource is devoted to helping players with the most essential task: hitting the ball correctly. Or, to put it a different way, to building a reliable, fast skill circuit. To do this, they

  • Slow it down. Just like the violinists at Meadowmount, the Spartak players do their swings in slow-motion. All players also follow the same warmup routine—which starts with simple eye-hand drills where they bounce the ball and catch it—whether they are five years old or, as I saw, a world top-ten player.
  • Imitate. They swing without the ball quite a lot, a drill called imitatsiya. The ball, in their view, is a distraction. The point is to make the swing—to fire the circuit properly.
  • Games can wait. The rule at Spartak is that players can only compete after three years of practice – a rule that would never fly in the states, but which, if you think of it in terms of skill circuits, makes perfect sense. Competition introduces a gigantic new variable, where skill circuits matter less than the score. As a Spartak coach told me, “Technique is everything. If you begin playing without technique, it is big mistake. Big, big mistake!”

 

 

Obviously, we agree on the first point - slow it down. What do you think about the other two?

post #7 of 9

Youth hockey is switching to something similiar where they play cross ice rather than full length. And some places have tried 3vs3 or 4vs4(instead of 5vs5) to get each skater more skill development time.To some extend the in golf, it would be the same as playing a par 3 course. You get to practice approach shots, chip shots, and putting. The advantage over full golf (where you add in a driver) is that you should be able to play a lot more holes/hr. You don't face a ton of different situations off the tee compared to the rest of the game.  Or you could just say practice time at the range since golf doesn't have the reaction component of most sports. Thing about how many chips you can take in all different situtiation you can take in 30 minsversus how many you get in 18 holes (3+ hours)of golf.

 

You have to be very careful not to get into a this or that frame of mind. Training shouldn't be an OR activity. It should be an AND one. Training slower helps with certain things. Training faster helps with others (i.e. it makes it easier to swing 90mph after you have been working at swinging 100mph). And training as you play helps get you comfortable on the course.  Figuring out what you need and when is a bit of an art.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jhwarren View Post

So there is a part in this book where the author describes a game called Futsal. This game is played by Brazilian youths long before they play actual soccer.  Basically it is a game similar to soccer, but it is played inside, on a much smaller court and uses a much heavier ball. The author provides empirical evidence to suggest that this game is the reason for Brazil's dominance in the world of soccer. He argues that by shrinking the playing field (while keeping the fundamentals of the game intact), the participants are forced to develop superior ball control skills and they get to handle the ball 5 to 6 times more often than they would in an actual soccer match. Here is a short article that goes into it a little more:

 

http://www.futsalonline.com/coyleinterview052010.html

 

I guess my question is: Is there a way that we could apply these benefits to golf training? Is there a way to shrink the game down, so that one could fire the necessary circuits more often and get into "deep practice" mode more effectively?

 

I have been racking my brain trying to think of something, but I can't. I'm not sure that it is possible or would even translate to golf. I figured, however, I would see if anyone out there has some good suggestions. Thanks.

post #8 of 9

I got the tip to read this book from lecture we had, talking about talen pretty much. I've always found the premiss of talent to be something lazy people throw around (myself included from time to time) when they don't want to realize that other players are beating them cause they've got way more practice hours under their belt. Now I've started to debate this with several of my colleagues and it usually ends up in them realizing where I'm coming from, a few of them I've gotten to reading the book themselves. 

 

For an instructor of any sort and for any kind of teaching I'd consider this to be a very important read. It has given me a lot of thinking about how my players should train to improve the most and the players whom I actually been able to get on my ideas does actually improve quicker as far as I've seen it. 

post #9 of 9

Other books on this vein:

 

Talent is Overrated, Colvin

Bounce, Syed (the only one I know written by an elite performer himself)

Outliers, Gladwell

 

and so many more...

 

One of the seminal original research papers by FSU professor Ericsson is actually quite a good read on its own.

 

One thing often overlooked is the need to understand and value the "secrets in the dirt."  Many golfers will come to start or improve from positions of relative wealth and power - they're used to getting what they want when they want it. 

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