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Running Books and Film Reviews

Running Movies: Starting Line (Tagalog)

starting-line-movie

This movie looks very similar to Thelma (starring Elma Muros and Maja Salvador). It introduces Cebu athlete Pearl Angeline Abellar in her first debut role.

Information on this movie is very limited but i found this on IMDB

Starting Line is a film about a promising runner named Bettina Dacanay who wants to join the school race in order to buy her mom medicine. Shot in one of the beautiful cities in the Philippines, Cebu. Starting Line is written and produced by Angelica Orlina and directed by Isaias Herrera Zantua.

 

 

MATHLETICS

by John D. Barrow

Mathletics-Barrow-John-D-9780393063417

How can sprinter Usain Bolt break his world record without expending any additional effort? What dates of birth give rise to the best professional athletes? Is it better to have the inside or outside lane during a race?

Drawing on vivid, real-life examples, mathematician John D. Barrow entertainingly explores the eye-opening, often counter-intuitive, insights into the world of sports that math and physics can give us. For example, we learn that left-handed boxers have a statistical advantage over their right-handed opponents. Through clear, detailed, and fascinating mathematical explanations, Barrow reveals the best techniques and strategies for an incredible range of sports, from soccer and running to cycling, archery, gymnastics, and rowing.

In this book, the author describes various sports, including a great many from the Olympics, and proceeds to analyze them using physical and mathematical principles. Many of these analyses focus on the physical performance of the given sport, others on the scoring system and yet a few others on winning strategies. A few chapters address less sports-like events such as coin flipping, probability, psychology, etc. Having read the author’s excellent “100 Essential Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know”, I was eagerly expecting more of the same in this book but with a sports-related twist. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.

On the positive side, there are many interesting sports details discussed in this book – especially about Olympic events. Consequently, I learned much about the various Olympic sports, as well as a bit on their history. Also, many of the physical/mathematical analyses are as interesting as I had hoped and were a great pleasure to read. Finally, the author’s writing style is very friendly, chatty, lively and generally accessible.

On the negative side, the book contains too many errors, omissions, erroneous labeling of diagrams, incomplete/misleading diagrams and some rather unclear descriptions. Taken together, I found these to be extremely frustrating. Also, I must agree with a prior reviewer who pointed out that some rather British sports – predominantly rugby and cricket – are discussed with the assumption that the reader knows all about them: terminology, rules, etc. For North American readers like me, this is not necessarily the case. In retrospect, it almost appears as though the book was rushed into print without proper editing. The author often mentions the “future” London 2012 Olympics. Perhaps there was pressure to publish the book early enough in 2012 (before the Olympics) to boost sales at the expense of adequate editorial review (?)

A book such as this is usually of immense interest to math enthusiasts, like me, who love seeing basic mathematics applied to real-world situations – in this case, sports. Despite the above shortcomings, the book (at least good parts of it) can still be enjoyed as long as the reader is aware of possible frustrations due to the mistakes noted above. I gave the book the above (possibly overly generous) score by focusing on its positive aspects and as an expression of my appreciation for books of this type.

 

 

 

Running with Kenyans

running-with-kenyans

After years of watching Kenyan athletes win the world’s biggest races, from the Olympics to big city marathons, Runner’s World contributor Adharanand Finn set out to discover just what it was that made them so fast – and to see if he could keep up.

Packing up his family (and his running shoes), he moved from Devon to the small town of Iten, in Kenya, home to hundreds of the country’s best athletes. Once there he laced up his shoes and ventured out onto the dirt tracks, running side by side with Olympic champions, young hopefuls and barefoot schoolchildren. He ate their food, slept in their training camps, interviewed their coaches, and his children went to their schools. And at the end of it all, there was his dream, to join the best of the Kenyan athletes in his first marathon, an epic race through lion country across the Kenyan plains.

With global attention on both the London Marathon in April 2012 and the London Olympics in the summer, there has never been a more exciting time to experience what it is really like to train and race with the stars of distance running.

Adaranand Finn the White Mzungu running with Kenyans. Photo Credit: Micah K - The Independent

Adaranand Finn the White Mzungu running with Kenyans.
Photo Credit: Micah K – The Independent

Review

‘I’ve seldom read a better account of the exhilaration of running…what gives Running With the Kenyans its special appeal is Finn’s charm … He’s unusually engaging company both on and off the track.’ Evening Standard

‘An engaging memoir…The book is populated with engagingly drawn characters and towards the end, Finn’s quest – the burning need to attain a certain marathon time – is gripping.’ Daily Telegraph

A hugely inspiring story of what is possible when we dare to try.’ –Ruth Field, author of Run Fat Bitch Run

‘If Chris McDougall’s Born to Run taught us what to wear (or not to wear) when running, Finn’s fascinating Running With The Kenyans teaches us how to run, and should be required reading for anyone planning their first fun run or marathon. In the tradition of the best sports writing he embedded himself fully in his subject and reveals, for the first time, just how close we are to the holy grail of the sub two-hour marathon.’ –Robin Harvie, author of Why We Run

‘In unobtrusively beautiful prose, [Finn] evokes the will to run at the heart of Kenyan life.’ –Sunday Telegraph

‘In unobtrusively beautiful prose, [Finn] evokes the will to run at the heart of Kenyan life.’ –Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Adharanand Finn is an editor at the Guardian and a freelance journalist, writing regular features for the Guardian, the Independent and Runner’s World. He is a former junior county cross-country runner and recently won a 10k in Exeter, Devon, where he and his family usually live. Follow his journey on http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/series/running-with-the-kenyans or @adharanand.

 

Pitch Invasion: Adidas Puma and the Making of Modern Sport

pitch invasion

Article by Kate Conolly, The Guardian 19 October 2009

On a cold but sunny day last month, a stream of nervous-looking players, male and female, ran on to a football pitch in the southern German town of Herzogenaurach. The match was an attempt to heal the wounds of a bitter family argument that has split the town for 60 years – and fuelled the fortunes of two of the world’s most powerful sporting brands.

“The split between the Dassler brothers was to Herzogenaurach what the building of the Berlin Wall was for the German capital,” says local journalist Rolf-Herbert Peters. Except that, whereas the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago, the antagonism between Adidas and Puma is still obvious to any outsider visiting the town.

These two global brands were founded 60 years ago after successful shoemaker brothers Adi and Rudi Dassler fell out bitterly. They disbanded their 25-year-old company, the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik, which had made shoes for legendary athlete Jesse Owens among others, and formed rival manufacturers on opposite sides of the river Aurach, which runs through the centre of Herzogenaurach. And here the headquarters of these two giants remain today, barely a couple of miles apart.

What started the spat between the brothers is a point of contention. Town chronicles mention it only in passing as “internal family difficulties”, but the most common explanation is that Rudi (apparently the better-looking one) had an affair with Adi’s wife, Käthe, for which he was never forgiven.

But many other accusations fly, over who was the more enthusiastic Nazi (both joined the party in 1933), or who really invented the screw-in soccer boot studs that helped Germany‘s national team secure its World Cup final victory over Hungary on a soaking pitch in Berne in 1954. Many also point to a night in 1943 when Herzogenaurach was under allied bombardment. Adi and his wife apparently clambered into an air raid shelter to hear Rudi, who was already there with his wife and family, declare: “The Schweinhunde (pig dogs) are back.” Adi insisted he had meant the RAF, but Rudi refused to believe him.

The enmity has divided the town ever since, determining which pubs its 23,000 citizens drank in, the butchers they frequented, who cut their gravestone and which football team they supported.

“There was a time when you’d have risked the wrath of colleagues and family if, as an employee of one company, you married the employee of the other,” says Klaus-Peter Gäbelein of the local Heritage Association. “Even religion and politics were part of the heady mix. Puma was seen as Catholic and politically conservative, Adidas as Protestant and Social Democratic.”

In business terms, it is Adi who has won. Adidas is by far the bigger company, employing 39,000 compared with Puma’s 9,000. But it is the nature of the Adi- and Rudi-driven rivalry that has given both firms their fighting spirit, trying to outdo each other by securing endorsements with the world’s top sportsmen and women.

“Listen, we have the fastest man in the world on contract,” says Ulf Santjer from “underdogs” Puma, referring to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. “We have the football world champions Italy, and Madonna wears our products – we’re not doing badly.”

Though the rivalry split the town, and meant that (officially at least) Adi and Rudi didn’t speak to each other, even when Rudi lay on his deathbed in the 1970s and the priest called Adi to his bedside, the townspeople seem largely grateful for the rift. “Without the row we would not now be home to these two global players,” says Gäbelein.

Before the fall-out . . . Rudi Dassler (left) and brother Adi (right) with German sports minister H Waitzer in 1930

Before the fall-out . . . Rudi Dassler (left) and brother Adi (right) with German sports minister H Waitzer in 1930

The Dassler brothers were building on Herzogenaurach’s manufacturing traditions – which started in the middle-ages when it produced textiles and, later, shoes and carpet-slippers – when they began their joint enterprise on returning from the first world war. Their father Christoph, a shoemaker, passed on the tips of the trade, and so it was that Adi gathered the tools and equipment left by retreating first world war soldiers and “shaped their first shoe, a cross between a carpet slipper and a running shoe”, while Rudi “took on distribution and general management”, according to Rolf- Herbert Peters, author of The Puma Story. Their mother’s laundry room became the company’s headquarters. “The cramped laundry . . . housed the nucleus of a future global company which would revolutionise the sport and fashion worlds,” says Peters.

Neither company is now controlled by descendants of their founders – the brothers are long since dead, and Puma is majority-owned by the French luxury goods maker PPR, while Adidas is owned by lots of small shareholders. Nevertheless the companies still keep their headquarters in Herzogenaurach. Manufacturing may have long since moved to distant corners of the world, but the factory workers have been replaced by young, sporty employees from many nations who concentrate on design, marketing and brand awareness and communicate in English. This town of cobbled streets and half-timbered houses still matters to both companies. It’s almost as if moving away to nearby Nuremberg or Erlangen would be admitting defeat.

“It’s always good to have a heritage – it’s your history and your experience combined,” says Kirsten Keck, Adidas’s spokeswoman, showing me around its World of Sport. On display are the friction-stretched long-jump shoes worn by Owens at the 1936 Olympics, gymnast Nadia Comaneci’s white floppy Adidas gym shoes in which she was awarded a 10 in Montreal in 1976, and Muhammad Ali’s customised high-ankled boots, worn when he fought George Foreman in 1974. On the wall is a photograph of Adi and Rudi, pre-fall- out, playing ice hockey on the frozen Aurach river which would become the dividing line between their companies.

Both businesses are expanding their presence in the town, building plush “brand centres”, catwalk-style complexes and showrooms of their most successful products. In a time of recession, the cranes that dominate the skyline as workmen finish the Adidas complex, Laces, and Puma’s new establishment, Plaza, are a welcome sight, and the message is clear: “We’re here to stay” – and, of course: “We will not be outdone”.

The wonderfully named mayor, German Hacker, tells me that, even when it came to the recent football match, it would not have done any good for the town’s morale to have one “firm” beat the other. “This match was diplomatic down to the last blade of grass.” Even the ball was co-branded. (It is somewhat disappointing to find out it was a “management versus workers” game, which the bosses won 7-5.)

“For anyone who grew up here this was an extraordinary affair,” says Hacker. “It would have been impossible 30 years ago. But the mood in the town has changed. The families no longer run the companies and we have people from 85 different nations living here now, everyone from graphic designers to engineers, and the companies are run by two young and dynamic heads.”

What the town is crying out for, but will probably never get, is a shoe museum. “The companies would never be able to decide on a common story,” smiles Gäbelein. Instead, visitors are left to their own devices. In the stillness of the town’s cemetery, few of those tending the graves are even aware that both brothers are buried here. But after some time I find them, Adi’s granite gravestone nestled in a bed of purple pansies and, at the opposite end of the cemetery, Rudi’s final resting place, marked by an Angel carved in stone next to a fir tree.

And yet, before they died, the brothers may, in fact, have been reconciled, according to several people I meet (some of whom only dare speak about it in whispered tones).

“In 1974, just six months before Rudi’s death, they got their drivers to take them to a secret meeting in Nuremberg for half a day,” says Helmut Fischer, the peace match referee and Puma’s in-house historian, referring to conversations he has had with those closest to the inner workings of the Dasslers’ empires, including their chauffeurs and housekeepers.

“But they could never tell their wives, and certainly not their workers, because it would have been bad for business.”

 

Movie Review: Fast Girls

 

fastgirls

In the lead-up to the 2012 London Olympics, writer Noel Clarke, producer Damian Jones and director Regan Hall decided to capitalize on pre-event excitement by putting into gear their long-planned project of an all-girl relay team. In the grand tradition of sporting movies, “Fast Girls” is a film that contains all the clichés of the genre, but still has enough energy and charm to be worth a look – especially for girls.

Bearing more than a few resemblances to Bend It Like Beckham, the story centers around two female sprinters: lower-class Shania Andrews (Leonora Crichlow, best known as Annie fromBeing Human) and high-achieving Lisa Temple (Lily James, currently playing Rose on Downton Abbey). Neither one gets much support from their families – Shania’s aunt and sister could care less about her ambition, and Lisa’s domineering father puts her under too much pressure. Unsurprisingly, the two become immediate rivals the moment they set eyes on each other, and the stage is thus set for the two of them to overcome their differences and complete alongside their fellow teammates Trix (Lorraine Burroughs) and Belle (Lashana Lynch) to bring home the gold.

Shania makes for a flawed, sympathetic and realistic lead (though you could make a drinking game out of the times she says “innit”) whose problems derive not only from her background but also her own personal shortcomings. In her own words, she’s not really a team player, and this comes to the fore when she and Lisa continue to botch up the all-important baton exchange in the 4×200 meter relay.

The key actresses went through a rigorous training and dieting regime in order to earn their washboard abs and athletic physiques, and are backed up by a solid (and familiar) supporting cast, including Phil Davies (Miles from Whitechapel) as Shania’s down-to-earth coach, Rupert Graves (Lestrade from Sherlock) as Lisa’s former-medal winning father, Bradley James (Prince Arthur from Merlin) as the team’s physiotherapist, and Noel Clarke (Mickey from Doctor Who) as the team’s long-suffering coach.

There are a ton of subplots at work – perhaps a few too many, and some of which end up getting abandoned along the way, but the film’s strength is not simply in its all-female cast (with the men in supporting roles that never subsume the girls’ ambitions and interests), but its ethnic diversity. Of the four leads, only one is white, and the promotional material surrounding the film claimed that this was the first British film to have a non-white actress in the lead role. Though I’m not sure how to verify this, Noel Clarke was pretty adamant about it in his interviews, and with recent surveys revealing that London is now one of the most racially diverse cities in the world, it’s rewarding to see a film that reflects this.

At 90 minutes the film flies by, and though it has all the usual sporting clichés – including the essential training montage – it’s heart is in the right place, it’s family-friendly (no swearing, drugs, sex, violence or so forth) and it’s a fantastic film to share with young girls, especially those harboring their own sporting ambitions. You’ll especially love its best scene, in which the girls run into a bit of trouble at a night-club where they are harassed by some young thugs, only to slip off their high heels and sprint away into the night.

(Oh, but if you’re wondering why the girls are competing in something called the World Athletics Championships instead of the more obvious choice of the Olympic Games, it’s because the International Olympic Committee refused for there to be any affiliation with the film, resulting in the complete omission of any mention of the word. Why they passed up on a prime bit of publicity for the games is a mystery for the ages).

 

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extra Ordinary Athletic Performance

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein

sports gene

“The Sports Gene” is an enjoyable book that shares the latest of modern genetic research as it relates to elite athleticism. In the never-ending quest to settle the debate of nature versus nature, David Epstein takes the readers on a journey into sports and tries to answer how much does each contribute. This fascinating 352-page book includes the following sixteen chapters: 1. Beat by an Underhand Girl: The Gene-Free Model of Expertise, 2. A Tale of Two High Jumpers: (Or: 10,000 Hours Plus or Minus 10,000 Hours), 3. Major League Vision and the Greatest Child Athlete Sample Ever: The Hardware and Software Paradigm, 4. Why Men Have Nipples, 5. The Talent of Trainability, 6. Superbaby, Bully Whippets, and the Trainability of Muscle, 7. The Big Bang of Body Types, 8. The Vitruvian NBA Player, 9. We Are All Black (Sort Of): Race and Genetic Diversity, 10. The Warrior-Slave Theory of Jamaican Sprinting, 11. Malaria and Muscle Fibers, 12. Can Every Kalenjin Run?, 13. The World’s Greatest Accidental (Altitudinous) Talent Sieve, 14. Sled Dogs, Ultrarunners, and Couch Potato Genes, 15. The Heartbreak Gene: Death, Injury, and Pain on the Field, and 16 The Gold Medal Mutation.

Positives:
1. Well-written, well-researched book. Epstein is very engaging and keeps the science at a very accessible level.
2. Fascinating topic that sports fans will enjoy. A look at elite athleticism through the eyes of science. Sports elites. I’m there!
3. Epstein does a fantastic job of skillfully handling the very sensitive topic of race and genetics. Any minor miscue and it would have derailed the book but Epstein never lets that happen and should be commended for his utmost care.
4. There are very few books on this interesting topic and this one covers multiple sports. And behind it all is the quest to find what’s behind elite athleticism, “The question for scientists is: What accounts for that variance, practice, genes, or something else?”
5. You are guaranteed to learn something new. As an avid sports fan and reader, I didn’t expect to learn too many new facts but I am always humbled and pleasantly surprised when I do.
6. The importance of experience in athletics. “Studies that track the eye movements of experienced performers, whether chess players, pianists, surgeons, or athletes, have found that as experts gain experience they are quicker to sift through visual information and separate the wheat from the chaff.”
7. Golfers will pick up a valuable scientific tip…I’m not going to spoil it here.
8. The 10,000 hours rule in perspective. “Studies of athletes have tended to find that the top competitors require far less than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to reach elite status. According to the scientific literature, the average sport-specific practice hours to reach the international levels in basketball, field hockey, and wrestling are closer to 4,000, 4,000, and 6,000, respectively.”
9. Understanding the importance behind visual acuity and its importance in sports like baseball. “Coincidentally, or perhaps not, twenty-nine often is the age at which visual acuity starts to deteriorate and the age when hitters, as a group, begin to decline.”
10. Important lessons shared, “To this day,” Woods said in 2000, “my dad has never asked me to go play golf. I ask him. It’s the child’s desire to play that matters, not the parent’s desire to have the child play.”
11. Addressing the differences in gender. “Much of sexual differentiation comes down to a single gene on the Y chromosome: the SRY gene, or “sex determining region Y” gene. Insofar as there is an “athleticism gene,” the SRY gene is it.” Great stuff!
12. So who was the greatest high-school athlete of all time according to ESPN? Find out.
13. The impact of the Human Genome Project as it relates to sports. The naturally fit six…
14. The science behind muscle growth. “Something that myostatin does signals muscles to cease growing. They had discovered the genetic version of a muscle stop sign. In the absence of myostatin, muscle growth explodes.” A lot of good information here.
15. Discusses physical traits by sport that give the athletes innate advantages over the competition. “The height of a sprinter is often critical to his best event. The world’s top competitors in the 60-meter sprint are almost always shorter than those in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter sprints, because shorter legs and lower mass are advantageous for acceleration.”
16. A cool look at the NBA. My favorite team of all time, the 95-96 Chicago Bulls (Jordan, Pippen and Rodman). Some eye-opening facts concerning wingspan.
17. Scientific observations, “Low-latitude Africans and Australian Aborigines had the proportionally longest legs and shortest torsos. So this is not strictly about ethnicity so much as geography.”
18. Race and genetic diversity. “Kidd’s work, along with that of other geneticists, archaeologists, and paleontologists, supports the “recent African origin” model–that essentially every modern human outside of Africa can trace his or her ancestry to a single population that resided in sub-Saharan East Africa as recently as ninety thousand years ago.” Honestly, where would we be without understanding the grand theory of evolution? An excellent chapter, worth the price of the book.
19. Mind-blowing facts, ” In an example particularly relevant to sports, about 10 percent of people with European ancestry have two copies of a gene variant that allows them to dope with impunity.” Wow!
20. An interesting look at Jamaican sprinting and Kenyan long-term running. What’s behind the success? “Consider this: seventeen American men in history have run a marathon faster than 2:10 (or a 4:58 per mile pace); thirty-two Kalenjin men did it just in October 2011.” Say what?
21. The honest limitations of the young science of genetics, “Just as it is tough to find genes for height–even though we know they exist–it is extraordinarily difficult to pin down genes for even one physiological factor involved in running, let alone all of them.”
22. Is motivation genetic? Interesting.
23. Genetic diseases. “According to statistics that Maron has compiled, at least one high school, college, or pro athlete with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) will drop dead somewhere in the United States every other week.”
24. An excellent epilogue on the perfect athlete, “In reality, any case for sports expertise that leans entirely on either nature or nurture is a straw-man argument.”
25. Notes and selected citations included.

Negatives:
1. Football is the most popular sports in America bar none but wasn’t really given as much paper as I was hoping for; sure you get some stories about Jerome Bettis, Herschel Walker, head injuries and weight lifting…but not the treatment a sport of its magnitude would warrant.
2. The science is very basic and done so to reach a larger audience. Links or an appendix would have given curious readers more to immediately munch on.
3. At no fault of the author, the science of genetics is still too young to be able to answer the most demanding questions to a satisfactory level.
4. No formal separate bibliography…you have to surf through the notes.
5. Few links.

In summary, the perfect summer book. This was a page-turner of a book that provides us a glimpse into elite athleticism through the eyes of science. David Epstein provides sports enthusiasts with a scientific treat. One thing is perfectly clear…genetics is very complex and we are we are in its infancy. That being said, it’s fascinating science and its increased understanding will continued to be applied to the world of sports. Epstein provides readers with an excellent appetizer of things; if you are interested in how genetics is being applied to extraordinary athletic performance, I highly recommend this book!

 

 

 

The Talent Code

 

talent code

What is the secret of talent? How do we unlock it? In this groundbreaking work, journalist and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle provides parents, teachers, coaches, businesspeople—and everyone else—with tools they can use to maximize potential in themselves and others.

Whether you’re coaching soccer or teaching a child to play the piano, writing a novel or trying to improve your golf swing, this revolutionary book shows you how to grow talent by tapping into a newly discovered brain mechanism.

Drawing on cutting-edge neurology and firsthand research gathered on journeys to nine of the world’s talent hotbeds—from the baseball fields of the Caribbean to a classical-music academy in upstate New York—Coyle identifies the three key elements that will allow you to develop your gifts and optimize your performance in sports, art, music, math, or just about anything.

Where does extraordinary talent come from? Daniel Coyle comes up with an intriguing answer inThe Talent Code, a highly readable account of the neuroscience of skill and talent.

Though popular perception has often regarded talent as something otherworldly –  a gift of the gods, perhaps, and certainly nothing that anyone could do anything about – in fact, according to modern neuroscience, talent is much more mundane, being nothing more than the wiring of chains of neural circuits inside the brain.

It all has to do with myelin, the substance that insulates the synaptic connections between the neurons. Every human skill is the result of the formation of such synaptic chains of nerve fibers. When brain circuits are fired the right way, myelin is generated, insulating those connections, making the signal flowing through them clearer, stronger, faster.

According to Coyle, the degree of this insulation is what is responsible for talent – the more time and energy you put into the right practice, the more myelin is deposited on those neural circuits associated with that practice, the more talent you achieve. It is as if the brain builds more broadband for those circuits that are activated in the right way. The right way is that of deep practice, one of the three key ingredients that are responsible for the creation of the neural architecture of talent. The other two identified by Coyle are ignition and master coaching.

What is deep practice? It is the struggle against that which is just beyond the grasp of one’s ability. Struggling with something difficult makes you smarter because it signals to the brain to start building more broadband in repose. Struggle is not optional – it is neurologically required. In order for a skill circuit to fire optimally, it must first fire suboptimally; in other words, it must first fail. You must make mistakes and pay attention to them if you are to become skilled. And you must keep up the practice, firing that skill circuit until enough myelin is build up around it.

This insight is revolutionary because it suggests that talent can be manufactured – all you need is a space in which you can practice making errors, struggling until you can overcome them. It is also counterintuitive because we imagine that the person with talent somehow does a thing right the first time.

But deep practice takes place in the narrow gap between what you already know and what you need to do. This deep practice does not involve threshing. There exists a “sweet spot” between your skill and what you’re reaching to achieve. It is in that gap that talent is born. How exactly does one do this? Coyle enumerates further aspects of deep practice: 1) absorb the whole thing; 2) break it into parts or “chunks”; 3) slowly practice each part; 4) and repetition.

But practice alone is not enough. You need to love what you’re doing, you need the desire to achieve a goal – you need fire. Without such deep need to practice every day, you will never develop talent because you will never endure the long years of necessary deep practice. Coyle calls this desire ignition.

Ignition is really faith in oneself, or, more specifically, in one’s ultimate achievement of the idealized self. It is belief that one is a musician, a writer, or a signer, and this faith is the zeal that motivates the long years of deep practice necessary to materialize that idealized self.

Ignition can be kept alive by a good mentor, teacher or a coach. Good coaching has everything to do with helping the student learn techniques to overcome failure. A good teacher knows the subject, the student and how to help the student connect to the subject, and he keeps the flame of the ignition going by helping the student believe in himself.

Faith is of the key elements that differentiates those who are able to commit to the long march that deep practice requires and those who were not. Those who believe that they will ultimately reach the end, will do so. But those who lose hope will fail to put in the necessary years of deep practice to become talented.

The book is highly inspiring and its message deeply affirming of human potential to achieve almost anything one desires if only one has the determination to put in the requisite amount of deep practice. It’s filled with thought-provoking information, and its insights have important implications for other aspects of the human experience beyond talent and skill. The processes described by Coyle, for example, also apply to problems such as depression, anxiety, OCD and many other disorders of the brain, suggesting that overcoming these problems is a matter of developing new circuitry in the brain by practicing having different thoughts.

One of the thought-provoking aspects is the idea that once we learn skills to the point where they become second nature, they pass into the unconscious mind, a storehouse of all such skills, through something called automaticity. But skills and talent are not the only circuits that become part of the unconscious, as anyone who ever heard of Freud will no doubt know; maladaptive circuits hide there, too. Which, in turn, makes one think about who and what we really are. Circuits, deeply insulated by meylin, our personalities, seem to be just patterns in the gray matter. But if this seems depressing, it also has a silver lining: we can change, no matter who we are and how afflicted we seem to be. We just need that spark of ignition, the faith in the ultimate success, the fire to start deep practice of new thoughts, behaviors and new selves.

 

 

 

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