Bounce, Matthew Syed explains that the so-called talent we see in high performers is a result of lots of practice; deliberate practice in the jargon of expertise research. Although the definition of talent can be nuanced to mean different things it's typically defined as something we're born with, an innate gift one has that others don't. />

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    The tip of the iceberg: What are we seeing when we watch elite sport performances?

    In his book Bounce, Matthew Syed explains that the so-called talent we see in high performers is a result of lots of practice; deliberate practice in the lingo of expertise research. Although the definition of talent can be nuanced to mean different things it's typically defined (wrongly) as something we're born with, an innate gift one has that others don't.

    In Bounce the backstory for some remarkable performances is explained through anecdote and research. Syed makes the argument that talent doesn't exist, at least not in the way we traditionally think about it. No one sees the massive foundation of countless hours of practice that support exceptional performance, thus it's easy to say that these performances are the result of innate gifts. The point is that no one is born with talent, there are no innate gifts, and if we want to be good, really good, at something then our only option is to practice.

    Anders Ericsson calls this phenomenon the iceberg illusion. It occurs everywhere where talent, practice, and expertise can be included in the same discussion. We see evidence of deliberate practice all the time but we generally don't attribute expert performance to practice. Performers are 'born' athletes or musicians, or whatever. Seeing a youngster do something with skill and expertise almost always raises the talent issue and claims about having been born with the ability.

    Ericsson, you may recall, is the originator of the idea that 10 years or approximately 10,000 hours of practice are needed to achieve expertise. He dismisses the so-called "10,000 hour rule" popularized by Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, which is partly based on Ericsson's research. The point of the '10,000 hour' idea was to illustrate that creating talent takes a long time rather than to establish a hard and fast benchmark.

    Unfortunately the message in Bounce and other popular reading about talent and ability doesn't seem to be putting a dent in mainstream sport administration practices. We still hear about talent identification schemes, using the schools to develop athletes, and other old and ineffective ideas that have never produced good results for Malaysian sport yet persist in administrative circles as go-to solutions. With a new government and a new sport minister this may change.

    Articles you can find in the Sportkid Metrics database that address talent creation and sport development:

    Time is the most important factor in talent development

    Let's stop trying to identify sport talent and start developing it

    Understanding sport talent pathways

    Revisiting the 10,000 hour rule: Practical thoughts on talent and practice

    What can Malaysia learn from Norway about sport development?

    What if opportunity never knocks?

    Can we please forget about ways to identify talent and just work on getting more athletes?

    The coach's role in creating a deliberate practice environment

    The 10,000 hour rule: "Not for the faint of heart nor for the impatient"

    The power of 'not yet'

    Artificial elimination of athletes from training and competition hinders sport development in Malaysia

    The attrition and transformation models of sport development

    Developing sport from the ground up: How does the process really work?

    7 things youth sport coaches should know


    Bill Price (price@sportkid.asia) is the owner and Chief Data Scientist at Sportkid Metrics.

     

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    Fear of missing out is hurting youth sports - 23 October 2018


    Deliberate practice vs. late specialization - 24 September 2018


    Is talent identification even possible? - 17 September 2018


    Who won the Asian Games? - 10 September 2018


    Re-thinking the mission of Malaysia's sport associations - 03 September 2018


    Using maturity offsets to determine age at peak height velocity - 27 August 2018


    The youth sport talent illusion: How we confuse early-maturers with good athletes - 13 August 2018


    The tip of the iceberg: What are we seeing when we watch elite sport performances? - 30 July 2018


    7 things youth sport coaches should know - 25 June 2018


    Who is responsible for athlete performance: Athletes, coaches, or committees? - 18 June 2018


    Creating a culture of achievement in sport - 05 June 2018


    Sport development in the headlines (sort of): Is Malaysia really serious about revamping their sports system? - 28 May 2018


    Who won the Commonwealth Games? A points analysis of the Gold Coast games - 23 April 2018


    Kaizen: Improving sport administration will improve performance - 02 April 2018


    What can Malaysia learn from Norway about sport development? - 05 March 2018


    More efficiency tips for coaches: Dealing with more than one email address and other communication ideas - 26 February 2018


    Efficiency tips for coaches: What can you do to work more efficiently? - 19 February 2018


    LTAD: Training to compete - 22 January 2018


    Sport clubs are the lifeblood of national sport development. They need help from sport associations to do their job. - 15 January 2018


    Sometimes taking risks is the only way to improve: Take a chance! - 18 December 2017


    How we calculate age in youth sports can have benefits and consequences - 11 December 2017


    What is bio-banding? Can it help reduce the relative age effect in sport? - 04 December 2017


    Understanding the role that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play in the athlete development process - 20 November 2017


    Great expectations: Expect more, get more! What we learn from raising the bar in sport performance - 14 November 2017


    Why process is far more important than outcome in a learning environment - 25 September 2017


    Sport associations are embracing physical literacy training - 18 September 2017


    Creating a true sport development system in Malaysia - 11 September 2017


    Who won the SEA Games? - 04 September 2017


    KL2017: Reporting individual sport results deserved better planning - 29 August 2017


    Can we please forget about ways to identify talent and just work on getting more athletes? - 07 August 2017


    Using the team selection process to boost motivation and increase athlete participation - 24 July 2017


    LTAD: The Train to Train stage - 10 July 2017


    LTAD: The Learn-to-Train stage - 26 June 2017


    Athletic training for youngsters - 12 June 2017


    Visualization and imagery in sports - 05 June 2017


    Young, single-sport athletes suffer more injuries and do not reach their full potential - 29 May 2017


    Transformational vs. transactional coaching - 23 May 2017


    Will they come back tomorrow? The most important KPI for youth sport coaches - 08 May 2017


    Advice to parents of young athletes - 01 May 2017


    Is VIP leadership of sport associations a good idea? - 22 March 2017


    What happens after an athlete's initial introduction to sport? - 27 February 2017


    "Where do athletes come from?" A paper presented at the Kuching sport psychology conference - 16 January 2017


    Understanding sport talent pathways - 09 January 2017


    Make 2017 the year of the growth mindset - 02 January 2017


    Teaching physical literacy skills in youth sport practices - 12 December 2016


    Developing sport from the ground up: How does the process really work? - 06 December 2016


    Pay for what you want: Why less government funding may be the best strategy for sport development - 21 November 2016


    The 10,000 hour rule: "Not for the faint of heart nor for the impatient" - 14 November 2016


    Parent involvement in their child's sport participation sometimes backfires - 07 November 2016


    How to do the measurements for determining peak height velocity (PHV) - 24 October 2016


    A foreign coach is not always the answer - 17 October 2016


    Tips on creating an effective coaching environment - 10 October 2016


    Peak height velocity and aerobic development: Using simple measurement data to inform training decisions - 26 September 2016


    Early sport specialization is still not a good idea - 19 September 2016


    What kind of data do we need to develop sports? - 13 September 2016


    The attrition and transformation models of sport development - 05 September 2016


    Solve for <x> - 29 August 2016


    Artificial elimination of athletes from training and competition hinders sport development in Malaysia - 15 August 2016


    Time is the most important factor in talent development - 01 August 2016


    What if opportunity never knocks? - 13 June 2016


    The long-term athlete development framework offers youngsters a chance at sport success and an active and healthy life - 06 June 2016


    Early sport specialization is not a good development strategy - 30 May 2016


    What does a declining population mean for sport? - 2 February 2016


    Coaching 'flow' - 11 November 2015


    The coach's role in creating a deliberate practice environment - 02 November 2015


    When should athletes specialize in a single sport? - 11 September 2015


    Physical literacy: The Holy Grail of health, wellness, and sport development - 1 September 2015


    Revisiting the 10,000 hour rule: Practical thoughts on talent and practice - 10 August 2015


    The power of 'not yet' - 20 July 2015


    Let's stop trying to identify sport talent and start developing it - 22 June 2015