What’s it about?

In Bounce (2011), Matthew Syed travels the origins of exceptional performances in fields like sports, mathematics, and music. He argues that intensive training, not natural ability, determines our success. People who attribute great performances to natural gifts will probably miss their own chance to succeed due to lack of practice.

About the author:

Matthew Syed is an award-winning sports journalist who writes columns for The Times and works as a commentator for BBC Sports. Syed was the English number one for almost ten years and played in two Olympic Games as a table tennis player.

Talent is not naturally within you; it is the outcome of many long days of purposeful practice :

If you believe that achieving excellence depends on talent, you are most likely to give up on anything that doesn’t show you direct progress.

Talent isn’t something taught in a classroom, nor is it something you’re born with – it is something you should live at all times. The purpose of driven practice is to widen one’s mind and body, push him beyond his limits, engage him in the thing he is supposed to do, and teach him to adapt to the change he faces. Truth is, talent rises from continual practice only.

You must’ve asked the question of how to construct talent and sustain it; the good thing is that all these wonders will be ceased effectively in this summary. Matthew Syed, in his book, sheds light and discusses the dangers and importance of talent and how to grow yourself sustainably through commitment and hard work.

People tend to adopt either a Fixed or a Growth mindset while learning:

A Fixed mindset makes people rely on their basic qualities more – intelligence or talent – and they think that it will make them reach success, which is not quite right. They waste their quality time on their already existing traits without spending any effort to develop them.

On the other hand, the Growth mindset drives people to believe that you must work hard and long to develop your abilities and succeed.

Both hard work and commitment are indispensable factors for greatness. The Growth mindset’s job is to keep you aware that talent without hard work will barely even give you temporary fulfillment.

A child prodigy doesn’t have unique genes; it is the way they were raised that is unique:

People, while practicing, tend to focus on the things that they can already do effortlessly. Experts, on the other hand, practice in a totally different way; it incorporates specific, significant, and sustained effort.

Extremely talented children don’t have a particular and unusual genetic trait that gives them an extra advantage; they result from the society and environment that they grow up in. When a child is exposed to math at a young age, he is most likely to grow up good at it.

Studies have shown after researching the lives of famous figures like Mozart (music), Beckham, Woods, Agassi, Williams’ Sisters (sports), Polgar Sisters (chess), that hard work is the most effective way to evolve talent.

When you look at the most talented people in the world, the only thing common between them is the constant training they do. The number of titles never mattered to the Serena sisters as much as hard-work and practice for the next match.

Purposeful practice is all about striving for what you can’t quite reach, even if the result isn’t guaranteed:

Purposeful practice is when you approach tasks with no limits, and even after that, you don’t feel satisfied.

Every minute of every hour of every day should be dedicated to a goal. The purposeful practice aims to extend your mind and body beyond limitations. It might not be easy, but studies assured that the only way to excellence is through purposeful practice.

An expert has nothing called too much practice. They practice so much that it becomes a regular part of their life. They don’t worry too much about failure. If they ever fail, they know to stand up and work harder and better.

One of the most crucial guidelines to reach success is to push well beyond your comfort zone:

Excellence is achieved from constant stretching until a much higher goal is reached – usually a goal that you are the only one who believes that you can attain.

This doesn’t mean that you should keep going from one place to another to find out how good you are. As long as you feel comfortable where you are, stay put and stretch upwards.

Thus, training while giving it your all is very significant for you to reach your set goal. Don’t be afraid to push your standards and higher the difficulty level a bit. The important thing is to be aware of your hard work and progress, no matter how little it is. Every step makes a difference. Your ability to track the effectiveness of every small move you make is what makes you stand out.

This belief will allow you to overcome difficulties much smoother and faster because, with time, you’ll know what to expect.

Belief is an essential element to success; the ability to believe is established through your commitment to success:

One of the most significant discoveries of human psychology is the astounding human capacity to construct innovations and ideas and parallel them to their beliefs. Usually, your coach or mentor believes in your talent more than yourself until you see it and learn how to modify and improve it.

Believes aren’t only essential to drive motivation long term, but to organize a blueprint for the process as well.

Jonathan Edwards – after winning the gold medal in the triple jump of the Sydney games – believed in “the will of God,” which made him relax and perform his talents at an unconscious level of mastery. Other people might find their beliefs from other, irrational, odd, or superstitious rituals, but as long as you are persistent and committed to hard work, your talent will peek through no matter what your beliefs are.

Failure is necessary for your success. It should drive and extend your limits instead of discouraging you:

Progress is a built process. Midst all the successes, failure is inevitable and can’t be avoided; simultaneously, it’s an essential paradox for the route of excellence.

If you seek greatness in your field, you should expect and accept failure at all times. You have to be able to evaluate your weakness and the possibility of a crooked path. Once you are in full commitment to what you want, you should be full of positivity as you shoot your shot without any doubt that you will nail it.

Many pieces of research have proved the ability of the brain to develop and expand under regular stimulation:

Purposeful practice is likely to set up new and unusual roads. The brain can add up all the information it receives to translate it into useful knowledge that encourages refined actions and attracts desired results.

For instance, the seemingly extreme-sharp reaction of many ball sportspeople is an illusion. After many experiments, it’s proved that all the top sportspeople have nothing beyond standards. The player can acknowledge minute-subtle movement in the bowler/server’s shoulder and arm, which, due to years of practice, had allowed him to detect the direction of the bowl/serve before the ball has even been touched. Their continuous practice has developed unconscious distinctions and patterns that may appear hard for an amateur.

It is easy to avoid the pressure of workload and mentally try to reduce it:

Choking happens once the conscious brain takes control of your performance. Sadly, it can be too complicated for the conscious mind to handle all of the tasks.

Even top musicians, surgeons, athletes, actors, politicians, artists, painters encounter choking, where, at times, they suddenly and inexplicably fail to practice the skills they have spent their whole life doing. You might have been plagued by the curse of choking, unable to utter a word on a hot date, or not capable of putting a sentence together while presenting.

To get rid of this kind of unwanted pressure, you have to learn to believe with an intensity that goes far more than logical justification.

What hits performers a high-pressure time is their conscious mind trying to take over and be extra cautious. However, when the stakes are high and you are pressured, letting your conscious brain take the lead isn’t ideal.

Thus, in similar situations, you should allow your sub-consciousness to take over, so you can reap the benefits of all the late-night training.