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

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

by Matthew Syed


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In the vein of the international bestselling Freakonomics, award-winning journalist Matthew Syed reveals the hidden clues to success—in sports, business, school, and just about anything else that you’d want to be great at. Fans of Predictably Irrational and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point will find many interesting and helpful insights in Bounce.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061723766
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/03/2011
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 622,471
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

A two-time Olympian and a graduate of Oxford University, Matthew Syed is a columnist for The Times (London), a commentator for the BBC, and a recipient of the British Press Award for Sports Journalist of the Year, and was named British Sports Feature Writer of the Year by the Sports Journalists' Association.

Table of Contents

Part I The Talent Myth

Chapter 1 The Hidden Logic of Success 3

Chapter 2 Miraculous Children? 55

Chapter 3 The Path to Excellence 77

Chapter 4 Mysterious Sparks and Life-Changing Mind-Sets 113

Part II Paradoxes of the Mind

Chapter 5 The Placebo Effect 149

Chapter 6 The Curse of Choking and How to Avoid It 181

Chapter 7 Baseball Rituals, Pigeons, and Why Great Sportsmen Feel Miserable After Winning 201

Part III Deep Reflections

Chapter 8 Optical Illusions and X-Ray Vision 217

Chapter 9 Drugs in Sport, Schwarzenegger Mice, and the Future of Mankind 233

Chapter 10 Are Blacks Superior Runners? 255

Acknowledgments 287

Notes 289

Index 303

What People are Saying About This

Dan Ariely

“Sport is often used as an analogy for business, education, and personal relationships. In this insightful and entertaining book, Matthew Syed takes us a step deeper into the world of sports, showing us how much we can learn about our own behavior.”

Jonathan Edwards

“Intellectually stimulating and hugely enjoyable at a stroke. . . . Challenged some of my most cherished beliefs about life and success.”

Mark Thomas

“A cutting edge dissection—and ultimate destruction—of the myth of innate talent in the pursuit of excellence. Syed synthesizes his evidence with the precision of an academic, writes with the fluidity of a journalist, and persuades with the drive of a sportsman. Read this book.”

Michael Sherwood

“Compelling and, at times, exhilarating—Bounce explains high achievement in sport, business, and beyond.”

Customer Reviews

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Bounce 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
JohnSH More than 1 year ago
Author Syed set out to show that the theory of natural talent providing superior performance in most endeavors was vastly overrated. Syed started the reader on the quest for an answer to this conundrum by reviewing his rise to an Olympic medal in table tennis by showing it was mere happenstance that started him on his quest. His parents bought him and his older brother a table tennis table which they put into their garage. So as a youth, he had many hours of experience at the table. This alone would have done little but instill in him a love for the game except for a series of seemingly remarkable coincidences. For example, he went to school where the nation's leading table tennis coach was the athletic director who coached and guided the author in developing his table tennis skills. Another coincidence was that the author's town had a unheated table tennis club with one professional table, but it was open 24 hours a day. The author was coached on an Olympian level. This and other coincidences lead him to Olympic glory. One day, he noticed that a majority of his fellow table tennis Olympians were from, not only his town, but from within a few blocks of his school! This started him on his quest for answers to the question: was he a natural table tennis athlete, or was he just better trained than his peers in the rest of the world? In his quest, he learned that most endeavors in sport, music, and other human tasks were marked by practice and training, not by innate talent. He cites a study that showed the difference between violin teachers, violinists in major orchestras, and violinists who were world class soloists. Even those violists who were taught by the same instructors fell into the three groups. The author wondered what the difference was. The study showed that most violists in the study took up the violin at 8.3 years old, and had the same number and quality of instructors. The major difference was that the soloists had practiced over 10,000 hours, the orchestra violinists had practiced about 6,000 hours, and the violin teachers had practiced about 4,000 hours. The conclusion is inescapable; the old joke is true, "When asked for directions by a passerby 'How do I get to Carnegie Hall?' The musician said 'Practice, my boy, practice.'" The author then shows that almost every mental and physical endeavor falls into this rule: the more practice, the more accomplished the individual will become. He shows that practice must be purposeful, always pushing the individual's limits. He uses the example that he learned to drive a car at age 16, and has driving a car for more than 10,000 hours. Did this make him a world class race driver? No; his practice driving was not purposeful: he listened to the radio, drank coffee, or talked with his passenger. He did not push his limits; instead his driving was on "automatic." He used just enough of his brain and talent to drive to his destination safely. The book was an engaging read, and went rapidly. Using scientific papers and personal experience, the author brings us along this delightful quest, with humor and an easy writing style, revealing facts and anecdotes masterfully illustrating his point. All in all a wonderful read.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
A United Kingdom table tennis champion, Matthew Syed recognizes that he succeeded not because of innate talent, but rather due to the special circumstances of his youth. He was able to learn from expert, dedicated teachers and to practice all the time. Syed knows he was fortunate and, to his credit, he worked hard to become as good as he could be. He discusses the science that demonstrates the validity of the adage, "Practice makes perfect." He explodes the "talent myth" by presenting scientific evidence that people who practice with enough diligence, patience and focused intensity can become great, regardless of the presence or absence of supposedly inborn ability. Syed covers numerous other fascinating topics, including racial stereotypes, the "placebo effect" and baseball players' "good luck" rituals. getAbstract warmly recommends Syed's well-researched, enlightening book - a hymn to the power and efficacy of practice, dedication, determination and hard work.
MaryWJ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
interesting ideas (not terribly novel) but would have been a good magazine article - dragging things out and repeating them just pads it into a book-length work
charlierb3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
About: Syed covers why successful people become so excellent at their craft.Pros: Very interesting, shows the importance of practice, well written with good examples.Cons: First section is pretty much a rehash of Gladwell's Outliers.Grade: B+
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Kelsey Runion More than 1 year ago
It is a gret read that i would definetly recomend.
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