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Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success [Hardcover] [Hardcover]

Matthew Syed
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (273 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Harper (2009)
  • ASIN: B003JT3UYM
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 14.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (273 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
152 of 161 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking read 6 May 2010
Bounce is a very interesting and thought provoking book. It basically argues that for any significantly complex human activity (especially sports like tennis, football and golf, and games like chess) natural talent is of pretty low importance because the wiring of the brain required to succeed can only be achieved through a massive amount of "purposeful" practice. The end result of this practice is often mistaken for natural talent, but in fact the trait most high achievers have in common is a willingness to work harder than their peers and a belief that this hard work will drive greater improvement and success, not a belief in their fixed superiority. There are a number of compelling and inspiring examples in the book, the most amazing of which is a family of Hungarian chess players whose story has changed the way I look at what is possible for any person to achieve. Woven into this argument are snipets of the author's own story as an internationally ranked table tennis player and Olympian. Although some of the material draws on the same sources (and also directly quotes) other popularizers like Malcolm Gladwell, I must say that having read the latter's books "Outliers" and "What the Dog Saw", I felt many of the key themes in "Bounce" are expressed in a very different way, and are in many ways much more compellingly argued. There are also whole sections on additional factors behind sporting success such as confidence, faith, nerve and even race, so that the overall sweep of the book's arguments is truly unique, rigourously argued and highly thought provoking. Although anchored mostly in the world of sports, it is hard to define this as just a sports book, as the ideas apply to many other walks of life as well. Highly recommended.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life changing insights 5 May 2010
Bounce is a remarkable book. Its central argument is that there is no such thing as natural talent and that top achievement is the consequence of huge amounts of a very particular kind of practice.

This may sound radical, but the evidence is compelling. The author shows how child prodigies are not quite what they seem and have actually clocked up quantities of practice that few of us achieve in our whole lives. He also shows how the extraordinary skills of elite athletes and other top performers in the arts and business can be explained by mental representations that all of us can acquire with practice.

When Roger Federer returns a fast serve he is not demonstrating faster reactions, but quicker anticipation. He is able to maker sharper and more accurate inferences about where the ball is going to go via the movement patterns of his opponent, so that he is in position almost before the ball has been hit. First class cricketers have figured out whether to play off the front or back foot 100 miliseconds before the ball has been bowled. The author demonstrates that these skills are not innate, but learned - and learnable by all of us.

Later chapters explore the importance of mindset and how parents and teachers can inculcate the "growth" mindset by praising effort rather than talent - this is of huge importance not merely to sport, but to education and life. There are also fascinating discussions of self belief, superstition, choking and drug taking. The final chapter provides a discussion of the reason for racial patterns of success and failure in sport and the wider economy.

It is absorbing, vividly readable and thought provoking throughout.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars back on track! 26 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book that has reminded me why I became a teacher c.15 years ago. For many years I have believed that effort is the key to success, rather than talent - although, having read this I now question how much I really believed this, and whether or not I was actually just paying lip service to the belief instead of really following it. I also think that, during the last 15 years of my teaching career I have gradually taken on board the belief that natural ability is a key factor (rather than effort), having seen many of my pupils become successful, or not. I think that the arguments and evidence presented and referenced here are persuasive and I shall return to the classroom tomorrow with a different view. The discussion on a limiting, or empowering self-belief in ability is powerful - and I shall now read the referenced books/research that are discussed in this book. This book is a good investment and is well worth reading.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Many good ideas 25 May 2010
By Dr. Nicholas P. G. Davies TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a good book, but not a great one. It has many good ideas within it, and it also does a good job of demolishing some old icons. It is a work of synthesis and it is honest enough to acknowledge the influence of many other books including Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Elseand Outliers: The Story of Success As I had already read these two books I found the ideas in Bounce familiar. Its main failing is the lack of a summary chapter at the end bringing the book to a conclusion. It just ends.

Bounce is superb at demolishing the ideas of "innate talents" and "genetic endowments and "racial characteristics." Syed points out the combinations of factors that come together to allow top performance to emerge. It is usually some combination of focused and genuine enthusiasm, opportunity, certain local quirks; disciplined practice and well trained experience. The initial enthusiasm for a task has to come from within- which allows the learner to put up with the knocks and setbacks on the way to becoming good at something. He explains very well why parents can try pushing their children into something...but probably won't get great results by so doing. The proverb about leading the horse to water, but not being able to get them to drink comes to mind. This leaves open an obvious niche for a book that helps parents to recognise and go with their child's talents and abilities.

The idea of disciplined practice being necessary to get good at something is stressed throughout the book. This applies in many fields both in sporting and other professions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Informative
A very interesting book that has certainly dispelled any myths that I had about talent vs hard work....
Published 7 days ago by Cathey B
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
Absolutely brilliant stuff...
Published 7 days ago by banuk
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent compilation of facts (real examples) presented in a way...
An excellent compilation of facts (real examples) presented in a way that pushes aside the myth of talent in favour of acquisition of skill by sheer desire and hard work! Read more
Published 13 days ago by Kanti Patel
5.0 out of 5 stars You can do it!
If you read this in combination with Tony Buzan's 'Use Your Head' you'll realise that we all blithering geniouses! Read more
Published 16 days ago by Sian Powell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read.
Published 19 days ago by Satisfied cutomer
5.0 out of 5 stars Matthew Syed is as good in print as he is a presenter/reviewer
I was a world champion badminton player and this book answers all the questions about nature vs nurture. Superbly written by one of the keenest brains alive - not just in sport. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Elliot Stuart
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 20 days ago by laura steedman
5.0 out of 5 stars An easy to read but mind-shifting book.
There lies a long history in UK schools of identifying 'gifted and talented' pupils, streaming children into attainment bands and focusing on challenging only the highest... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Kitcakes
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for coaches
Fascinating read. Something of a reference piece for anyone interested in sports or business coaching / management. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Phil Longhorn
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it as it confirms that it's practice
Loved it as it confirms that it's practice, correct practice that is, that is the key to success. Everyone who reaches a high level in any field has done so through hard work and... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Howard Gibbon
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