Archive for Talent Code

My Daughters Ignition

Posted in Guest Authors, Hockey, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , , , on December 7, 2012 by mboyle1959

I have told this story many times, but wanted to put it in writing. Daniel Coyle in his landmark work The Talent Code talks about igniting the fire of greatness. Coyle states

‘we are often taught that talent begins with genetic gifts- that the talented are effortlessly able to perform feats that the rest of us just dream of. This is false. Talent begins with brief powerful encounters that spark motivation by linking your identity to a high performing person or group. This is called ignition, and it consists of a tiny, world shifting thought lighting up your unconscious mind: I could be them.”

I can tell you that I witnessed ignition in my daughters life at a USA Women’s Hockey camp in Blaine Minnesota. I watched my then 11 year old daughter act like  a member of a lost tribe who had found “her people”. There were others like her. Women who just wanted to be hockey players. I could see her mind shift to “I could be like them” and I watched her behavior shift to be like them. Suddenly an hour of shooting pucks seemed like a good idea. The weightroom became an obvious place to visit. She wrote her own story here: Women’s Hockey Life .

In Shenk’s The Genius in All of Us he talks about genetics x environment. Not genetics plus environment but genetics times environment. Great genetics and the environment of ignition lights a powerful fire. The lesson for me is that you can create passion by exposure to great role models. Taking your son or daughter to a great college game becomes a really good idea. Staying for autograph sessions after, even better. You don’t need to push passionate kids, they do it themselves. Find ways to encourage passion, even is sometimes it is by accident.


The Genius in All of Us

Posted in Random Thoughts, Training, Youth Training with tags , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2012 by mboyle1959

David Schenk’s The Genius in All of Us may be the best of the “success” books. I have spent parts of the last 12 months reading Outliers , Talent Code, Talent is Overrated   and finally Genius in All of Us.

The interesting thing about my year-long study of success is that all roads have led to the same place. The conclusion of all of these works points to one word. Passion. All of these books debunk the myth of giftedness and genetic talent. The evidence is clear that as Geoff Colvin wrote talent is overrated. I must admit to being skeptical but after approximately one thousand pages I now understand.

I have read so much on the topic that I might accidentally plagiarize.  I will try not to. Passion is the special sauce the makes the succeeder. Succeeder is not even a word but it defines the successful person.

The message of all these authors is nearly identical in the final analysis. You can’t create passion but, you may ignite in it in your child by creating the correct environment.  From a parental standpoint passion can be nurtured but not forced. Passion is almost fleeting, ephemeral. Some have it, some don’t. Maybe it exists on a bell shaped curve, I do not know for sure. I only know that it is the common theme of all these books, the thread that ties all these success tomes together.

The other theme that arises in all books in one way or another is Anders Ericson’s concept of deliberate practice. Not just practice but, deliberate practice. The passionate seem to be able to perform deliberate practice or as it is alternately referred to deep practice.  Schenk describes deliberate practice as “not inherently enjoyable’ and as “not the repetition of already attained skills but repeated attempts to reach beyond ones current level”. Schenk goes on to note that these attempts are “associated with frequent failure”. (P 55)

The other concept that appears in all of these works is the ten thousand hour concept. The idea is that mastery of an area will take ten thousand hours of this previously-mentioned deliberate practice. Schenk makes a point to note that “surfing the net is not deliberate practice”. It is important to state that ten thousand hours is equal to three hours a day for more than ten years. The concept might explain why so many of us seem to arrive on the strength and conditioning scene in our forties. The reality is that ten thousand hours may take twenty years to accumulate. Even more significant is that ten thousand hours is not a guarantee of success, only a common thread. (P57)

Shenk also goes on to say that ‘finding ones true natural limit in any field takes many years and many thousands of hours of intense pursuit”. (P 58) He makes us realize how few of us have explored our true limits as coaches or as athletes. In fact, many athletic careers may not last long enough for mastery.

The lesson is sports, particularly for youth sport parents is go to practice. Practice, at least good practice, has the capacity to make change. Games on the other hand allow for too little exposure to the vital skills needed to succeed.

All page references above are from Genius in All of Us.


Success Secrets

Posted in MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Seminars, Training, Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 7, 2011 by mboyle1959

I have had the pleasure of reading some great books in the past few year, many centered on how people succeed in a wide variety of professions. Books like Outliers, Talent Code and Talent is Overrated inspired me to share my story.

I am a “fitness expert” I guess. I am also a very average looking, balding, fifty five year old with no distinguished athletic resume. If this is the case, how did I end up a fitness expert? Simple, I read more and coached more than most people. As Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell would say, I have put in my ten thousand hours.

The bottom line  is that success is much more about hard work and perseverance than it is about talent. We all know that the best players don’t make the best coaches, we just don’t always know why. My theory is the best athletes never had to learn to work to get what they wanted. They always were at the head of the class. Those of us that struggled to make a team know what it is like to have to work toward a goal. That gives us the potential to be great coaches. The key as a great coach is to figure out how to motivate and develop a great athlete.

The bottom line? Sincerity wins. One of favorite quotes is “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. In the long run it is more important to be the hardest working, nicest guy in the room than the smartest.

I have another quote I love. It simply says “work hard, be nice”.

Want to be a Better Trainer, Coach or Teacher? Read This!

Posted in Random Thoughts, Training with tags , , on April 7, 2011 by mboyle1959

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle was one of my best reads of the past year. I’m sorry it has taken so long to get these reviews in print but, I have just gotten around to transcribing the notes from pages I folded and highlighted.  As I may have mentioned I now buy both a print and audio copy of every book. That may seem extravagant but, the print copy allows me to go back and review what I heard in the car.

To be honest, I think a lot of the stuff in the beginning about growing myelin was just a hook to get you to read. In fact had it not been for my friend Jim Setters of the German National Ice Hockey Federation, I would never have picked the book back up. I started it and thought the beginning was BS and just put it down. I can only say “thanks Jim” as there were parts of the book that I did not want to miss and would have.

Of particular interest were the sections on Teach for America and John Wooden. I’ve attached a bunch of quotes and page numbers that I highlighted in the book with some heading and comments.

If you get a chance, pick up a copy of Talent Code today.

Teach for America and KIPP

The majority of charter schools are built on a foundation: to do whatever it took to get the students into college. Pg141

The is KIPP culture. It covers how to walk, how to talk (they work on the three inch voice, the twelve inch voice, and the room voice)pg 146

“Every single detail matters,” Feinberg says. “Everything they do is connected to everything else around them.” Pg 147

Note- the KIPP lessons can apply to any business but apply well to strength and conditioning.

Coach John Wooden

Wooden didn’t give speeches. He didn’t do chalk talks. He didn’t dole out punishment laps or praise. In all, he didn’t sound or act like any coach they’d ever 167

There were no lectures, no extended harangues… he rarely spoke longer than twenty 168

Gallimore and Tharp recorded and coded 2,326 discrete acts of teaching. Of them, a mere 6.9% were compliments. Only 6.6% were expressions of displeasure. But 75% were pure information: what to do, how to do it, when to intensify an activity. One of wooden’s most frequent forms of teaching was a three part instruction where he modeled the right way to do something, showed the incorrect way, and then remodeled the right way, a sequence that appearedin Gallimore and Tharp’s notes “Wooden”pg 169

Woodens demonstrations rarely take longer than three seconds, but are of such clarity that they leave an image in memory much like a textbook 169

The coach would spend two hours each morning with his assistantsplanning that day’s practice, then write out minute by minute schedule on three by five cards. No detail was to small to be considered. Wooden famously began each year by showing players how to put on their socks, to minimize the chance of 169

His skill resided in Gatling-gun rattle of targeted information he fired at his players. This, not that. Here, not there. His words and gestures served as short, sharp impulses that showed his players the correct way to do something. He was seeing fixing errors. He was honing circuits. Pg 170

He taught in chunks, using what he called the “whole part method” he would teach players an entire move, then break it down to work on its elemental actions. He formulated laws of learning. Explanation, demonstration, imitation, correction, and repetition. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens-and when it happens, it lasts.. You Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learned, authored by Gallimore and former Wooden player Swen Nater. “Repetition is the key to Learning” pg 170

Note-I may have learned more from this chapter then from any book I read or listened to this year. This info changed the way we all teach and coach.

Football Coach Tom Martinez

Note- the quote below really shows the essence of coaching. Know who you are coching and what you need to give them. Disadvantaged kids may need more “ice cream”, the rich kids, “more shit”.

Football coach Tom Martinez, whom we’ll meet later, has a vivid metaphor for this process. “The way I look at it, everybody’s life is a bowl of whipped cream and shit, and my job is to even things out.” He said. “ If a kid gets a lot of shit in his life, I’m going to stir in some whipped cream . If a kid’s life is pure whipped cream, then I’m going to stir some shit.’ Pg 185

A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary-Thomas Carruthers pg 196

“Get your feet apart-be an athlete now”

“You’re like a waiter. Keep the ball up, deliever it.”

“Your left foot is killing you, know what I mean? You’re understepping. Yu got to roll and pop.” “See how easy it isn’t?”

In thirty seconds he explained the correct dropback motion in four distinct ways:tactile (ball of fire), personification, (waiter), image (airplane), and physical (butt to armpit)

“kids today are hard to reach,” he said.”They know how to give all the right answers, all the programmed answers. So when I see things, I say it so you can hear it. I say it a lot. Each guy has his own button you can tap on. Who are you out here for? Pg 201


Carol Dweck, the psychologist who studies motivation, likes to say that all the worlds parenting advice can be distilled to two simple rules: pay attention to what your children are fascinated by, and praise them for their effort..pg217

If you get a chance, pick up a copy of Talent Code today.