The Talent Code

The Talent Code

There’s a pattern common to all Super Athletes — certain methods of training, motivation, and coaching. This pattern, which has to do with the fundamental mechanisms through which the brain acquires skill, gives us a new way to think about talent — as well as new tools with which we can unlock our own talents and those of our kids.


“We are often told that talented people acquire their skill by following their “natural instincts.” This sounds nice, but in fact it is baloney. All improvement is about absorbing and applying new information, and the best source of information is top performers. So copy them.”


“Precision especially matters early on, because the first reps establish the pathways for the future. Neurologists call this the “sled on a snowy hill” phenomenon. The first repetitions are like the first sled tracks on fresh snow: On subsequent tries, your sled will tend to follow those grooves. “Our brains are good at building connections,” says Dr. George Bartzokis, a neurologist at UCLA. “They’re not so good at unbuilding them.”


“When you learn hard skills, be precise and measured. Go slowly. Make one simple move at a time, repeating and perfecting it before you move on. Pay attention to errors, and fix them, particularly at the start. Learning fundamentals only seems boring—in fact, it’s the key moment of investment. If you build the right pathway now, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and trouble down the line.”


“being willing to risk the emotional pain of making mistakes—is absolutely essential, because reaching, failing, and reaching again is the way your brain grows and forms new connections. When it comes to developing talent, remember, mistakes are not really mistakes—they are the guideposts you use to get better.”


“the strategy, the goal in developing talent is always the same: to encourage reaching, and to reinterpret mistakes so that they’re not verdicts, but the information you use to navigate to the correct move.”


“Every skill falls into one of two categories: hard skills and soft skills...hard skills and soft skills are different (literally, they use different structures of circuits in your brain), and thus are developed through different methods of deep practice.

“Hard skills are about repeatable precision, and tend to be found in specialized pursuits,”


Excerpts From: Coyle, Daniel. “The Little Book of Talent.” Random House Publishing Group, 2012-08-21. iBooks. This material may be protected by copyright.

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© GreatBase Tennis School of Wake Forest  2011