In 2006, Daniel Coyle began visiting tiny places around the world that produce mounts of talent or “chicken-wire-Harvards” (p.11), in his quest to demonstrate how individuals achieve top performance by operating at the edge of their abilities, and cultivate perfection through a series of failures, repetition, correction, and intense concentration under simulated conditions (pp. 22-24, 24-29). For him, these places are a microcosm of larger patterns and forces at work in nurturing highly skilled performer in any discipline (p.12).
In “The Sweet Spot” , the author focuses on “deep practice” as the decisive element both in transforming individuals into top performers in disciplines such as ...view middle of the document...
Coyle then moves to the national level-to Brazil with its World Cup Victories, the thousands of talents signed by European soccer teams, and the endless parade of star players such as Pelé, Zico, and Kaka- showing that genes, geography, and poverty were present in the 1940s and 1950s and Brazil´s results were unspectacular (14, 15). He then asks himself rhetorically: “…how does Brazil produce so many great players?” (p.15). The obvious answer is deep practice because since 1950 Brazilian players started practicing in a particular way, with particular tools that improve ball handling skills faster than anywhere else in the world(p.15).
The author then backs up his thesis by drawing upon the academic research of Robert Bjork, Chairman of the UCLA Psychology Department, who argues that making mistakes improves your performance because the brain functions like a scaffold of infinite size, the more impulses and difficulties that it generates, encounters and overcomes , the more scaffolds we generate (p.19).
At first sight, the “sweet spot” sounds like a “get good quick” recipe, with its emphasis on a particular tool to develop skills as opposed to innate talent, geography or socioeconomic condition. But Coyle´s “deep practice” is, in fact, part of new research in Psychology that expounds that the most basic abilities develop through dedication and arduous work.
For example, Carol Dweck, the Stanford University Psychologist and author of the “Growth Mindset” , argues that learning and excellence comes from what she calls the growth mindset, the belief that talent grows through strenuous work, endless practice, excellent teaching and persistence (Ch. 1). However, unlike Dweck who presents scientific proofs from randomized experiments, Coyle´s evidences amount to sampling bias, since the collected sample is such that some members of the population are more...